Drip irrigation systems are an efficient way to water your garden. They control water flow and use 30 to 50 percent less water than sprinklers, which saves money and reduces pollution in the water supply.
But, like any other type of system, there are a few things you need to know before you start installing your drip system. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a successful drip irrigation project.
1. Know Your Plants
Unlike sprinklers, which shoot water out quickly, drip irrigation allows you to control how much water each plant receives. This helps to conserve water and keep your garden looking beautiful all season long.
When installing a drip irrigation system, it’s important to know your plants and their needs so you can design a watering plan that suits them. For example, a tree may need a different watering schedule than a vegetable bed.
A perennial or potted plant may also require a different watering regime than a fruit tree. It’s also a good idea to understand how plants differ in size and type when planning your system.
A drip system should allow you to change the number of emitters and their location as the plant grows. For trees and shrubs, it’s best to start with several high flow rate emitters where the root ball meets the backfill and move away from the tree’s trunk as it reaches maturity.
2. Know Your Tubing
There are lots of different tubing types and options to choose from. Having a basic knowledge of what each type does will help you determine which ones you need and how to lay them out for maximum hydration of your plants.
A drip irrigation system is a great way to save water and irrigate your plants effectively. There are four main types of systems, all with different benefits and features.
Once you know which tubing your plants need, it’s time to install the actual drip irrigation system. Start by sketching out a simple plan of your garden and where you’ll need to connect the various watering devices.
3. Know Your Emitters
Drip emitters are the tools that deliver water to the roots of your plants. They come in different sizes and diameters to suit your needs.
Emitters should be spaced 12 – 20” apart depending on the soil type. A one gph (gallon per hour) dripper will cover a 12” diameter in sandy soil, while 1/2 – gph drippers cover a 6” diameter in clay soil.
When you’re putting together your grid, it’s important to plan for each plant’s watering requirements. You can do this by marking the locations where each plant needs to be watered and laying out the hoses accordingly.
4. Know Your Filters
Drip irrigation systems require a higher degree of filtration than sprinkler systems. This is because drip emitters and microsprayers have smaller outlets and pathways that are easily plugged by small particles.
When deciding which filters you need, it is important to choose based on the type and quality of the water passing through your system. When your water has suspended solids (sand in quantities
When choosing your filters, it is also essential to choose the correct screen size. The mesh or maximum particle size in “microns” should be selected based on the type of irrigation system.
5. Know Your Valve
A valve with flow control helps you conserve water, preventing excess pressure from blowing out emitters or tubing. In addition, check valves help to keep your irrigation system clean and safe from contaminants like rust or dirt.
The type of valve you use depends on the size of the pipe you plan to install in your irrigation system. You should also consider the manufacturer’s recommended flow range and the amount of pressure loss through the valve.
Most drip systems run in a 20 to 50 psi range, so it is crucial that your pressure regulator is set properly. It is also important to install backflow preventers and filters in the system.