Think of it this way: plants basically need dirt, sunlight, and water – only one of these is really under your control. “Them especially.”. These are called risers. non-flowing) pressure. These three images clearly illustrate this: It’s tempting to save money by using fewer sprinkler heads, but this can easily end up being a false saving. One way to determine your water pressure is to simply phone up the utility company and ask for your neighborhood’s “static” pressure. It’s highly recommended that you get some graph paper and draw a sketch as you go along, even if this is only so you have something to show to a landscaper or at the plumbing supply store. Also make sure that all the taps in the house are closed and the dishwasher isn’t running: pressure drops as flow rate increases. For components like water meters, valves, and filters, the only way to estimate their associated pressure loss at a given flow rate is to look through the manufacturer’s documentation. Some, like those you might use on a drip line, work just fine at flow rates well under 1 GPM, while others require a much higher minimum flow and/or pressure to open and close properly. The simple truth is that an irrigation system designed using a systematic approach will almost always outperform one which was more or less slapped together using a combination of intuition and wishful thinking. A hydrozone is simply any area you’ll water in the same way. What’s important to know here is that, in a pipe filled with water, the actual amount of water and the shape of the pipe doesn’t matter when it comes to static (i.e. As a very rough guide to help you in the initial planning stages, you can use the following table. Another important consideration here is that pressure loss within a branch line should be no more than 5 psi, or sprinklers near the valve will spray much more than those located at the end: This can be rectified to some extent by adjusting the flow rate on individual spray heads, but using a larger pipe is a much better solution – if the pipe is too narrow to begin with, you may have to dig up the whole shebang and start over. This is not an accident: understanding these can make the difference between a design that works flawlessly and one that barely functions. It’s of absolutely no use to be told simply that some model “sprays up to 12 feet”, you also need to know how much pressure this requires and how much water is dispensed. Water makes all the difference here and, unless you’re lucky enough to live in an area with plentiful year-round rain, this generally means installing a sprinkler system of some kind. A spadeful of wet dirt can easily weigh 15 lbs or more, for instance, while dealing with unexpected problems like inconveniently placed tree roots can take hours. Spray heads that each cover a larger area tend to be more expensive individually, but also require less trenching and piping. Planning a garden is therefore all about finding the best possible compromise between your horticultural dreams and your resources. Using this number and adding together the expected pressure losses upstream of the lateral – the solenoid valve that turns it on and off, the filter and backflow preventer, the mainline pipe itself – we see that we can expect 7 psi less than the original static pressure of 40 psi at the start of our branch line. Once your drawing is complete, you can view your custom sprinkler design within seconds. Water lines branching off your irrigation mainline are called “laterals”. If the most you can realistically hope for is a figure of 90%, tackling any fairly large system will have you pulling out your hair in no time. Ideally, you’ll hook up your irrigation mainline to that of the house (the house mainline is the tube between your water meter and where it enters the building). Sprinkler system design can be quite methodogical. Some electronic valves also have a manual setting, meaning that you can close it if it should fail in the open position. Programmable sprinkler systems make this easy. In any case, you should be glad if you found a potential problem through this exercise: discovering the same thing by half your lawn dying off is much less pleasant. You also have to take into account the soil composition in your yard: coarse, sandy soil drains very quickly and plants growing in it will benefit from frequent, brief waterings. If they were not on a level surface, we’d simply add or subtract the appropriate amount from the pressure at each sprinkler when we calculate it.
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