Friday, 27 June 2014

How to Choose the Right Irrigation System for Your Garden

According to the US Irrigation Association, around 30% of the water delivered by the most efficient automatic sprinkler systems is wasted. Most landscape owners think that their task is finished once they have installed a good irrigation system. However, landscaping experts warn that unless proper maintenance is done, even the most efficient irrigation system would stop performing or show signs of snags, over time. Most experts recommend hiring professionals for at least an annual inspection to ensure that your irrigation systems are working fine. It’s equally important to check that your system is supplying water where it’s needed (the root zone of plants), at times when it’s needed. Perhaps now you know why it’s important to select the right irrigation system and plan strategies for making smart use of water in your landscaping.

Listed below are some factors, which you should consider to choose the right irrigation system:

  • The Size and Complexity of the Garden: For a small garden with a few potted plants, you can water plants manually. Using a watering wand or a hose with a flow trigger fitting and spray head are also good choices. However, to water a large area, you will need to consider a drip irrigation system or permanent in-ground irrigation system fitted with timers. These days, you can also get smart irrigation solutions that incorporate sophisticated options like flow management, weather-based smart controls, and remote control options from a central computer. Such hi-tech features will be useful if you need to manage your irrigation requirements remotely.
  • Your Water Conservation Goals: If you live in a drought-prone area, water efficiency of your irrigation system is likely to be of high priority. In some other areas, water may be available for little or no cost, but electricity to run the irrigation system could be expensive. In such cases, you will need irrigation systems with controllers that can coordinate irrigation demands to make your pumps operate at peak efficiency. This will help you save money on electric bills rather than on water bills. Some people may also need systems that can adapt to changing water restrictions applicable in a particular region. Thus, your water conservation goals would be a key determining factor while selecting the right irrigation system.
  • Budget: You need to ascertain a budget and research online to shortlist the varieties of irrigation systems available within that range. You should also notice the ones that are more water-efficient than the others before taking your final pick.
  • Watering Window and Flexibility: Your watering window (the time and duration of watering your garden) can be affected by watering restrictions applicable in the area, sudden outdoor events and the varying levels of pedestrian traffic. Therefore, your system must be flexible to easily and quickly accommodate to scheduling changes, as and when the need arises.
  • Monitoring the System’s Water Flow:In case you need to generate water usage reports, your irrigation system should be fitted with flow sensors to record the actual flow of every valve in the system. Even when you don’t need to generate reports, using such flow sensors will alert you whenever there’s a deviation from the normal flow. Thus, a sprinkler head clogged with grass or mud will show an abnormally low flow. Again, if trespassers have kicked off the sprinkler heads, the flow sensors will display a much higher flow than what’s normal. Thus, you will be able to monitor your water flow closely and take corrective measures, where required.

The type of water (potable/non-potable)and water-pressure in your area, as well as the number of people managing the systems are other factors that should be taken into account while buying the most apt irrigation system for your garden. 

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