Irrigation Systems Use ...

House and zones

Irrigation starts with you - what you want, what can be achieved

When you talk to Matti about what you want to achieve, he will be able to sketch out a variety of ways of doing it. The illustration above is of a residential set up. Rainwater collection is an option, but you can simply opt for mains water. Larger systems are more complex, but the same pattern is in place.

   Stepwise...

Design

Designing an irrigation system is important, if only to record where the pipes are buried. It can be complex. Everyone will have a different set of needs, scale of use, and objectives. Megason uses software from Lincoln University to plan out irrigation systems to fit your needs. There is a simpler package for residential systems.  And if all you want is a rain tank for dry periods in the garden, well, it's enough that it is a simple, obvious and time-tested method.

Source your water 

Even if main water is used, you should regard it as a valuable resource, not to be wasted. If you are not on mains supply, harvest every drop it is practical to collect and store. See the Rainwater and Tanks pages. 

Controllers

Think of a controller as a watchman-groundsman, alert all hours but narrowly focused, equipped these days with a cell phone. Simpler residential controllers automate irrigation. Larger scale operations assume unattended use, and are capable of alerting staff if excessive pressure (a blockage) or reduced pressure (burst pipe) occurs.

The controller can switch on water at night to minimise water loss, and also minimise who gets wet. It also can be set to switch on zones at different times, This can even out water demand, so large installations do not exhaust mains pressure. If rain sensors are part of the system, the controller can be programmed to skip irrigation or reduce the irrigation time.

Distribution - valves and hoses.

Irrigation systems are divided into zones. In practice, a zone is a single irrigation valve and from that goes a pipe to sprinklers or a set of driplines. At its simplest, there is just one zone, but residential systems can readily have three or four, and this usually represents differing water needs or water restrictions. Commercial and municipal systems can have a dozen zones. Water is usually shifted about with pipes and hoses. Typically pipes are 'in-ground' which means they are buried out of sight, protected from damage. 

Sprinklers and driplines.

This 'in-ground' practice can also apply to the sprinklers. They have internal pistons, and when not in use, are at surface level, too low to be damaged by a lawn-mower or to cause people to trip. When water pressure is applied, the piston expands and the sprinkler emerges for use. Similar use applies to a sprinkler that resides out of sight at foliage level in a planted bed, but rises up to allow directed sprays to fan out.

A sprinkler delivers water through the air. It is best when area coverage is wanted, say for grass or a large bed of flowers. They are effective, but subject to wind drift, perhaps drifting onto passers-by or onto unwanted areas. A dripline (or dripperline) is a high-tech hose on the soil, maybe under mulch. It slowly releases water to plant roots. The cost per plant is higher, but there are no spray-drift problems, and water wastage is much lower.

Talk to Matti about your options.