Landscaping & Irrigation
beauty, comfort, & energy savings
Water is gold in this area. With
increasing population all over the country and especially here in
California, water is a precious commodity.
If you're closer to a town, you may have
city water, but very often you'll be using well water. How much that
well produces, how large of a pump you have, and the size of your
storage tank all play a roll in how much you can irrigate.
If you've lived in a more moderate
climate, turning sprinklers on and leaving them might have been all you
need. In this area, sprinklers are not recommended except for a few
shallow plants like grass, flowers and shallow rooted shrubs. Trees need
deep watering which sprinklers don't provide well.
Plus, they water indiscriminately within
an area. That means you're making the weeds grow more there as well as
the plants you want. And some plants, like the trees, simply don't get
enough or the right type of watering.
Drip systems allow you to water only what
you want. You can put drippers in a row of trees and deep water (a
couple of hours) a couple of times a week, or you can put drip systems
into hanging or standing pots and automatically water ten minutes twice
a day in the hot part of the summer. Unless you never leave home and are
really good about remembering to turn things on and off, automatic
timers are recommended.
What to Buy
Here are the main ingredients for your
blue line (that's the main line -
connectors for drip lines (1/4"
connectors for your faucet or hose
inline connectors for blue line
hole punch (get a couple they're easy
Here are the secrets...
While big retailers have some things at
great prices, we've found their drip lines inferior. They usually supply
a solid black line and it doesn't stay connected nearly as well. When a
valve comes on the line blows off and your plants don't get watered and
your valve area gets flooded.
Go to a professional sprinkler supplier
and buy the real thing from them. The cost is very low and the quality
is better. As an example, I bought 500' of blue line, three rolls of
drip line and a punch all for $42 just last week.
Rainbird® irrigation for large areas is
really pretty easy. You can buy individual Rainbird® sprinklers that
terminate a line, or you can buy inline Rainbird® sprinklers that can
be capped to terminate a line or used in line with 2-4 sprinklers
operating on the same line at the same time... IF you have the water
pressure to do so. We can only operate two systems at a time, and after
a 5 year drought (which does happen from time to time) we could only
operate one at a time.
Never install a system uphill from your valves
unless you don't mind constant leaking. When an uphill system is off, all the
water, once under pressure, in the lines will drain back down to the backflow
valve and keep things soaked. If you can't avoid it, put a big dish there and
call it a critter drinking bucket. Our cats find it whether we put a container
there or not. They have their own little watering hole with a constant supply of
Ladies, if you'll be installing or maintaining
your drip system, I've found that it's easier to use 1/8 inch connectors. They
go together much easier than the 1/4 inch.
For irrigation system
Cleaning the Systems
It'd be nice if once installed everything
would just work right all the time. But, cleaning the systems all the
way down to the individual drippers is essential, especially if you're
on well water.
Well water tends to carry a little bit of
sediment so screens should be inserted between your valve and your drip
Step 1. Screens should be checked
frequently and cleaned out.
Step 2. Next, check every dripper.
If a plant isn't getting water, first take the dripper off and see if
water is coming out when the dripper (that's the part that controls the
flow right at the plant) is removed. If so, clean the dripper and
reinstall. If not...
Step 3. Back up the drip line to
the connector (that's the part that connects the small drip line to the
main blue line). Remove the drip line... if water is flowing then just
removing the drip line might have cleared the algae or sediment that may
have been clogging it. If there is no water flowing...
Step 4. Remove (you'll need pliers
for this) the connector from the drip line.. blow through it to clear
any clogs and, if water is flowing out the hole from the blue line,
reinsert. If water is not flowing well, check the hole itself. I've
pulled out what seems to be miles of goop (that's a technical term) from
the hole itself. And, at times, I've had to repeat this process two or
three times in a row to make it work right. Note that the connectors are somewhat fragile and can break
fairly easily, so carry a supply of new ones with you.
valves on automatic timers is
also important. While they sit idle in the winter, spiders build webs
inside or other bugs might find it a nice winter condo. If they get
caught in a valve, you'll have a malfunction. Also, early
spring with the warm sun, algae grows rapidly. The valves must be
taken apart in several places to clean and clear, and the process may have
to be repeated several times during the watering season.
Check drippers every week or two. It
doesn't take long in the heat of summer for plants to get crispy here.
If you see one wilting, check the line immediately. I generally put on
my tool belt, stock it with drip system parts, and wander each line
about once a week. The cats or other animals can break parts occasionally.
And every now and then the big two legged animal gets carried away with
the weed wacker and doesn't realize he's eaten some of my drip lines as
Last but not least, remember to turn your
systems off in winter and thoroughly check them the following spring,
refreshing batteries in battery operated timers and cleaning all the
parts along the way.
All photos on this site
are copyrighted. Many are available to purchase, however, at www.19thCentury.us