How to Install Drip Irrigation DIY
It is not that easy to keep your lawn fresh and nice because you should really take care of it, particularly, you should water it regularly. There is an old way to do it by using the lawn sprinkler that you to drag it around every few hours to water every area of your lawn. If you are looking for a more convenient and easy way to ensure the beautifulness of your yard, you should think of installing irrigation systems.
Particularly, a drip irrigation system is a fantastic solution that does not require lots of effort from your side but ensures a great condition of your plants. Once the system is installed, you can set the startup time and duration of watering as well as program it to water your plants and glass on a regular schedule. Not only does this system help save lots of time but it also ensures the minimal water consumption. In this article, you will find a step-by-step instruction on what you need for your drip irrigation system, how to install it and what the best irrigation system for watering your lawn is.
How to Install a Drip Irrigation System
Installing irrigation system for lawns and gardens has plenty of benefits. You can choose some among different irrigation systems that are available today, and it is important to know which of them will be the best choice for you based on the results that you aim to achieve. A sprinkler irrigation system is great for watering grass, but if you need to ensure water access for your plants, you should consider installing drip irrigation.
About Drip Irrigation
Drip irradiation is an efficient watering method that slowly delivers water right to the plant root system. This eliminates water loss and undesired weeds growth around your garden because water is only delivered to the chosen plants. Generally, drip irrigation is more efficient than home sprinkler system installation when it comes to watering particular plants.
It is possible to order professional installation but doing everything yourself will cost you 30-40% less. Today, it is very easy to find all the needed components and install the entire system yourself.
To have this system installed in your garden, you will need to do the following:
- Check legal requirements;
- Make a plan of your drip irrigation system;
- Choose details and materials;
- Install the system.
This is the very first thing that you should start with. You should contact a municipal water department or your water purveyor to find out all the important information about codes, laws, and permits. Each water purveyor and area may have its own requirements, and according to some of them, a backflow tester or licensed irrigator is required to be present during the installation process which is needed to ensure that no contamination from your irrigation system will pass into drinking water. In some US states, installing a drip irrigation system without proper permits may lead to the court appearance and fines. Once all legal issues have been sorted out, you can proceed further.
Making a Plan
Before you make a plan, you should clearly understand what you need. Divide the area of your garden into several sections by water needs based on the following factors:
- Watering needs of plants (light, medium, or heavy);
- Levels of sun/shade. Plants in the full sun will need more water than those located in shade;
- Soil types. It is important to consider all types of soils in your yard.
You should measure your garden, make a simple sketch of it as well as indicate the positions of all watering devices and how they should be connected. It is also essential to determine any potential obstacles that may block tubing patterns, such as trees, groundcover, shrubs, vegetable gardens, and flowerbeds. Ensure that all the root zones of your plants are carefully covered. On the Internet, you can find a plenty of samples of drip irrigation plans that you can use to understand how everything should look like. Once the plan is ready, you can decide what exactly materials and devices you will need to use in your work.
Here is a video demonstration:
Choosing Details and Materials
Based on your sketch, you can determine the total length of the drip tubes. If you need to use more than one drip tube, you may consider installing a lateral line with several drip tubes. A pressurized mainline is more suitable for large gardens than the lateral one.
You need to determine the flow rate and spacing to know how many emitters you need. Each emitter comes with a certain flow rate, usually determined in GPH. The best watering device for each type of plant should be determined based on a flow rate that ensures an adequate water access to every plant. It is also important to take into account the types of soil in your garden.
The following are the basic rules for choosing drippers for different types of soil:
- Sandy soil requires 2-gph drippers;
- Loam soil needs 1-gph drippers;
- Clay soil requires 1/2-gph drippers.
Trees or some plants may have higher water needs, and that is why you may need to install two emitters located around the root zone at the same distance. Avoid mixing and matching emitters with different flow rates on the same drip line.
You will need to decide on the water delivery method from the drip tubing to the plant.
- Drip emitter is a smaller diameter line attached to the main tubing, where you can punch holes, so the water could flow toward the plants;
- Pre-installed emitter lines come with evenly spaced emitters, suitable for orchards, crops, and vegetable rows;
- Micro-sprinkler heads are something between sprinklers and drip irrigation. They are good for hard water because they are more difficult to clog;
- Porous pipes are a cheap option, which does not allow controlling rate or maintaining water pressure.
You should also purchase a certain plastic fitting for each connection as well as a flush valve or end cap for each drip tube. If you have the lateral line, it is also recommended to obtain an “air vent”. For this type of line, black polyethylene tubing will be the best choice. For a mainline, it is better to use piping made from galvanized steel, copper, sturdy PVC, PEX, or heavy polyethylene. Choose the size and type of your pipe depending on the maximum flow rate.
Before you purchase the needed materials, you should make sure that they fit well, and you will have no problems with connections. Then, you will just need to install the system according to your plan and test how it works. Remember that you can simply connect a drip system to a hose faucet and in this case, you will just need to turn it on each time you want your plants to be watered. Thanks to automatic valves, you can enjoy even more convenience.
How to Lay Sprinkler Lines
A sprinkler system is one of the best types of watering system for lawns. If it is installed correctly, the system will allow covering all the area, which ensures the best results. Installing such a system yourself may seem complicated, but it is not as hard as you may think. Basically, you will need to do some calculations, make a plan, purchase materials, and, finally, put all the system together.
Making a Plan
You should start with making a plan based on sprinkler coverage. It is important to reach 100% overlap to avoid dry spots. Make a sketch of your yard by placing obstacles in it, such as shrubs, trees, sidewalks, etc. It there is a need, you should divide your yard into several zones, and then indicate the positions of all sprinklers heads. Then you need to connect them, keeping in mind any obstacle on your way.
Since your goal is to achieve 100% overlap, you should place sprinklers heads in the way that allows water spray from each sprinkler head to reach the adjacent head. Sprinkler heads are chosen depending on the coverage you need, and this information can be obtained from a manufacturer.
There is a very simple way to go — there are lots of manufacturers that can make a system layout for you based on the exact characteristics of your yard and the required results. You will just need to send them some information, such as your water pressure (this can be determined with a pressure gauge) and some other details.
Before you begin inground sprinkler setup, you need to find out what materials you will need to select for your system. Determine what type of pipes you wish to select. You have two main options: polyethylene and PVC pipes. Polyethylene pipes are, probably, the best choice for most irrigation systems because they are flexible, lightweight and durable. At the same time, PVC pipes that are more known to people than polyethylene ones lack flexibility, which makes them a bit difficult to work with, especially when it comes to curves and corners.
You will also need to purchase the straight coupler to connect two pieces of pipe to reach the needed area. The poly plug is attached to the end of a pipe to stop water at a certain point. The elbow coupler is used to turn the system’s corner to change the direction of the water. The T-coupler is used to join three pipes at one intersection. The water release into the pipes is controlled by electronic valves integrated into the system (optional). Before you purchase all materials, make sure they can be assembled without any problems.
If you ask a manufacturer to create a system layout for you, you may also obtain a list of all the needed materials, which is very convenient. It is possible to get this service for free, but some amount of money may be charged if your yard requires a complex approach. Anyway, the price for such service should not exceed $50, so if you want to eliminate any mistakes with making the plan and choosing the most suitable materials, you may need to use it. Also, do not forget to check what new goods for sprinkle irrigation system are available in 2018, because you may find several cheap and interesting inventions.
You should mark the place for each sprinkler head with a flag and trenches with wooden stakes or any other material, which will help you to easily find everything you need. Now you can start digging, which you can either do yourself or use a pipe-pulling machine. The latter way will cost you more, so it is up to you what to save — either time or money.
One of the most important questions is how deep to lay pipes? You should dig the main trenches first, and then the branch lines. They should be around 8-10 in. deep but not less than 6 in.
According to the plan, lay pipes in all the trenches from the water source. Before doing that you should carefully attach the pipe to your faucet. Use special fittings to connect piping to each other and sprinkler heads. Once all the pipes have been put in place, and all the parts have been connected, you need to test how the system works.
You can turn on water manually every time you want to water your plants, or you can set up an automatic system with a timer, which allows you to make sure that you will have your lawn watered even if you are not at home or just forgot to do it. You will easily find a suitable timer with clear instruction on how to install it.
Keeping the System in Great Condition
If you provide good maintenance for your system, it will water your lawn for a very long time. It is recommended to winterize the irrigation system every fall to make sure that it is in the best condition for the next warm season.
Sprinkler heads require special attention because they may be blocked or change their direction, which will leave plants without an access to water. You should carefully check your landscape to ensure that no spots required to be fixed are found. If you use an automatic system, you should also check the condition of a backflow connection every year. For the winter time, you just need to empty the system and to turn it off.
Here is a video about irrigation system maintenance:
Generally, to set up an irrigation system you will need to learn some basics, and it is possible that you will make a couple of mistakes. However, if you complete everything yourself, you will be able to save plenty of money and gain great experience which might as well be useful later.