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Avoiding Common DIY Irrigation Mistakes

Happy August from Desert Rose! In this month's blog, we will review some common mistakes that are made when a homeowner decides to install their own irrigation. Irrigation systems can be complex, and very costly with mistakes being easily made. If you plan on installing your own irrigation system, we highly recommend doing a lot of research to understand how they work, how to install them properly and have knowledge of city mandated requirements of an irrigation system. The Firebird has irrigation seminars for homeowners and Desert Rose highly recommends attending these before beginning any irrigation installation.

One of the most common mistakes we see in irrigation systems has to do with time. Running the irrigation too much or too little can greatly impact plant health. The main building block of an irrigation system is the emitter, sprayer, or bubbler. Each has a certain amount of water it puts out in one hour (often measured in Liters per hour). The most common emitters come in 2, 4, 6, and 8 LPH. Since not all plants need the same amount of water, these emitters help you to keep the time on each zone the same but give each plant its proper amount of water.

There are several ways to give a plant the amount of water it needs. Let's say you have a plant that needs 10 LPH. You can have (2x) 8LPH emitters and run the time for 38 min, (2x) 6 LPH and run the time for 51 min, (1x) 6LPH and (1x) 4LPH and run it for 60 min, and so on and so forth. Consequently, there are a lot of different combinations to use and as you add more plants with different watering requirements it can get tricky and slightly confusing keeping track of water requirements and watering times.

There are many other things to calculate when it comes to irrigation and one of the most important and often overlooked is pressure. Pressure can range greatly - from as low as 20 PSI out of a spigot attached to the home, to as much as 120 PSI out of a spigot that is tapped directed from the main water line. Irrigation systems work directly off of pressure and a lot of irrigation problems can be attributed to pressure. Too much pressure can quickly wear down components of the irrigation system and cause premature wear and failure, while too little pressure can lead to inadequate watering and dry spots, leading to dead plants. Another factor to consider in regards to pressure is elevation rise and drop: 20 PSI will struggle to make it into a raised flowerbed, especially if there are emitters on the ground level.

The last thing we want to cover is demand. If you have 100 8LPH emitters on a 20 PSI zone there is no way the emitters at the end of the line will be getting any water. More often than not, you will need a plumber to add a new spigot before the pressure regulator in your home or tap directly into the main water line on your property.

After reading the above issues, it is easy to understand how irrigation systems can quickly become overwhelming. We only touched on a few of the many problems and things that need to be considered when it comes to irrigation systems. Desert Rose has over 20 years of irrigation experience and has seen it all, so if you feel like an irrigation system may be too overwhelming, feel free to call and schedule a consultation for an irrigation system!


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