Many homeowners invest in a lawn irrigation system to save money as well as to conserve water. However, to reap the benefits of a sprinkler system it is important to adhere to the irrigation system design best practices as outlined in this article. The primary goals of any lawn irrigation system are to promote a healthy and disease-resistant lawn and protect the environment by using the least amount of water as possible while also minimizing water runoff.
Irrigation Zone Mapping
The first best practice element to implement when designing an irrigation system is to measure and map out the property. Once the area is properly mapped out the designer will then split the area into watering ‘zones’. Watering zones represent distinct areas of your lawn that will require different water needs. Correctly identifying watering zones is a critical first step in the design process as this important step ensures an efficient watering pattern that minimizes over-watering and water runoff. For example, a shady area of the lawn will require less water from the irrigation system than say a front lawn that receives direct sun during most of the day.
Irrigation System Capacity
The next phase of the irrigation design process will include a look at the system’s capacity. To determine the system capacity the designer will need to consider two variables – water pressure, which is measured in pounds per square inch or PSI and also water volume which is measured in gallons per minute or GPM. These two variables are important factors when calculating the correct number of zones and sprinkler heads per zone. Installing the proper number of zones and heads per zone allows the irrigation system to effectively cycle between each zone and apply consistent water application per zone. If an irrigation system is designed with too much or too little PSI or GPM the system will not perform effectively and your lawn, plants and trees will suffer the consequences.
Sprinkler Head Selection and Spacing
There are a variety of sprinkler heads to choose from, however the two basic categories of sprinklers used in residential irrigation systems are large area rotors and small area sprinklers. Selecting sprinkler heads for each zone is somewhat of trial and error and a little bit of science! The goal is to select the right type of sprinkler head for each zone to create consistent and uniform water coverage. Experienced irrigation and landscape designers will typically sketch out each zone with the proposed sprinkler head before installing to ensure proper spacing and coverage.
Soil Percolation Rate
The soil percolation rate is the movement of water through the pores of the soil and is measured and expressed in inches per hour. Another important measurement is the soil infiltration rate which refers to the movement of water into the soil. Excess water runoff is created when the irrigation system puts out too much water that exceeds the lawn infiltration and percolation rates. Effective irrigation systems should be designed properly by factoring in the lawn’s unique percolation and infiltration rates in order to avoid water waste and high run-off rates.
The irrigation system controller’s main purpose is to turn the system on and off at scheduled times and days, however there are many irrigation controllers to choose from on the market that offer a wide range of additional features. Advanced irrigation system controllers include ‘smart’ technology that obtains and uses weather data along with other external data points such as temperature and humidity to determine appropriate watering cycles. Smart controllers are most often EPA WaterSense certified and have become popular with homeowners as an effective means to save water and money.
We hope you have found this article helpful in understanding best practices for designing an efficient lawn and landscape irrigation system. Irrigation systems truly are the best way to keep your landscape healthy and thriving in a way that conserves water. If you are ready to get started on your new lawn irrigation system, give our design experts a call today!
Hi, Mike here! There is nothing better than lush green lawns and beautiful blooming plants and flowers, especially in the Springtime! However, in order for grass, trees, flowers and shrubs to thrive they must have an adequate WATER SUPPLY! That's where effective irrigation and sprinkler systems come in! This blog is a dedicated space to discuss best practices and most efficient methods of watering.