By LMG Calla Victoria
If you don’t already have an irrigation system but want to install one, pay attention to what your plants are telling you before starting the installment process. Thirsty areas of your garden require more moisture so those areas are where you want a pop-up sprinkler. Those areas may be arid because your specific plant material requires lots of moisture, or it could be that large tree roots from a neighbor’s garden are leaching moisture from your plants. In either case those areas need focused watering so you will know just from surveying your garden where to place pop-up valves. Know that the areas closest to the sprinkler heads get the most moisture.
Irrigation systems are not very complicated to install. Just dig some trenches, lay and seal the PVC pipe, add the pop-up sprinkler valves and joints, attach the unit to a water source and you are in business. There are a plethora of DIY videos on YouTube to easily guide you through the process. Most sprinkler heads cover 8’ to 30’ feet spray area so keep that in mind when calculating what you need. Once you determine the number of sprinkler heads needed for a specific area of the garden, then strategically position those sprinkler heads for maximum coverage. Try to position each sprinkler head near your arid areas. Also know that sprinkler heads have various controllable spray patterns so be sure to pay attention to those options before you purchase. Most all sprinklers give you a 40-360 ° coverage.
Like everything else irrigation has gone high tech. There are mobile apps through which your can turn your irrigation system off and on via wifi. There are also those smart systems that measure the amount of sunshine, rainfall, and soil moisture and will only come on when the soil needs it. Not like those old automatic systems that come on at a specific time regardless of what the weather is doing. Gone are those instances where it's rainging outside and the sprinkler is on.
If you feel that installing sprinkler heads is to high tech, you can go low tech and install a network of soaker hoses and sprinkler hoses to irrigate your garden. Soaker hoses are quite economical costing about $8 per hose and can be just laid throughout your garden beds with no trenching. These hoses have very fine holes so the water literally drips onto the soil and really give the roots a good “soak” over a couple of hours. The sprinkler hoses, on the other hand, are flat with larger holes on only one side of the hose and when attached to a water source the water sprouts out profusely, if you flip the sprinkler hose over it too becomes a soaker hose giving off a lot more water than the regular soaker hose. You can use the soaker hoses in the low water areas and use the sprinkler hoses in arid areas of your garden.
I will be installing an irrigation system in my garden as I prefer to spend my gardening time planting rather than watering. Luckily for me, as I don’t really like mulch but prefer ground cover plants, I can slide the PVC through my evergreen groundcover as opposed to digging trenches.
If you already have an irrigation system, depending on how long ago it was installed you may need to do some tweaking. If you are an avid gardener you are always planting, therefore some areas of your garden are more densely planted now then when your irrigation system was originally installed. Therefore some areas may need more moisture than before. Give your plants what they need and they will reward you over and over.
Remember never get too busy to stop and enjoy the beautiful flowers!