Did you struggle last summer to keep your garden going through the worst of the heat?
Perhaps it’s time to think about installing an irrigation system. We give you the low-down
Why use irrigation?
There are three key bene ts to an irrigation system:
Save time – there’s no need to get up early in the morning to water the garden or try to finish it in the dark before bedtime.
Save water – correctly installed and operating irrigation systems will deliver the right amount of water at an appropriate rate. This allows for better water infiltration
and minimises run off. Drippers and underground soakers will also save water by reducing evaporation losses.
Happier plants – plants will receive a consistent amount of water that allows for strong growth, flowering and fruiting. Far better than the “feast or famine” that often occurs with manual watering.
Design tips for different zones
There are two options for lawns: either pop-up sprinklers spaced around the lawn or underground soaker tubing. Pop-ups are the easiest to install, but this method suffers from evaporation losses. They can also be dif cult to position so the spray pattern ts within the lawn perfectly. Some spots can be missed and others get too much. Underground soakers do away with that problem but are more expensive and take longer to lay. Always select tubing that delivers an equal amount of water per dripper, or weep hole, to prevent excess water release in sloping areas.
There are multiple options with garden beds depending on the type of plantings. For beds with shrubs and large perennials, individual drippers or soaker pipes work well and can be hidden under mulch. Beds filled with many smaller plants are best watered via sprinkler nozzles mounted on risers above the foliage.
Individual drippers are best as they deliver water direct to each tree. These should really be viewed as a temporary measure, just to help them establish or at times of extreme dry, as trees should be chosen that can flourish on natural rainfall alone.
Individual drippers connected to a main pipe via spaghetti tubing are best for pots. Choose drippers that have adjustable ow rates so you can tweak the right amount for each pot. Large pots may need several drippers each.
Firstly, measure your garden beds and lawns and take note of tap locations. Next, time how long it takes to ll a nine-litre bucket when placed under the tap. This gives a rough indication of how much water pressure you have. Head off to your local hardware or irrigation store armed with this information, and the staff will help you with the design and supplies.
Manual tap timer
These attach to individual taps and must be turned on every time you want the system to start but automatically shut off once the time is up.
Automatic tap timer
Again, these are attached to individual taps but can be programmed to switch on and off automatically at whatever frequency is needed.
Fully automated system
This is like a mini computer and is not attached to a tap. It connects directly to the mains water line and controls all the irrigation zones from one spot. Programming options are endless, but the initial framework (mains access and back ow prevention device) needs to be installed by a licensed plumber.
It’s a good idea to also include a rain sensor with this system to prevent it switching on when it’s raining.