A Basic Guide to Irrigation Systems

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A Basic Guide to Irrigation Systems

Irrigation systems come in all shape and sizes, and most systems come with sufficiently well-written instructions so that most people can install them with the use of a few hand tools. Products that are designed for watering a small section of a garden, such as a vegetable patch or a border, tend to be the simplest to get up and running. Full lawn irrigation systems, however, often have hidden components that are buried underground do require a bit more know-how. A newcomer to irrigation systems can learn the basics and install a small system with ease.


Components of Irrigation Systems

At its simplest, an irrigation system is simply a hose that can be turned on and off manually, but a proper irrigation system automates much of the watering process so that gardeners can get on with other jobs. Some system components even allow different sections of the garden to be watered at different times. A fully-automatic irrigation system allows watering to occur when the garden is unattended, perhaps during a holiday period, depending on the components used.

Water Lines

Most irrigation systems have water lines that deliver the water from its source to where it needs to be. Sometimes these are open channels, rather like guttering, but in most cases they are enclosed. Hose is the most common type of water line because it can be laid flexibly around planting and garden features. It can even be buried, if needed.


Sprinklers are the section of the system where the water comes out. These can be simple roses that disperse the water in all directions, like those found on the end of a watering can. In other cases, they have rotating parts that spray water into many directions to reach all the required areas. Sometimes sprinklers squirt water long distances and sometimes they just allow a slow trickle to escape. Most can be set according to the particular requirement of the area being watered.


These devices turn the water supply on and off. Many have rotary dials, while others have electric displays that allow users to set complex watering patterns. When multiple controllers are installed in an irrigation system, different amounts of water can be directed to where they are most needed. Top-quality controllers also often have rain sensors, so they use less water overall.


Like controllers, timers switch the water supply on and off but only do so according to the time that has been set. Controllers tend to afford a lot of user functionality, but timers are ruled by what the clock says.


These devices sit in line with the irrigation system's hose and create a miniature spurt of water whilst allowing more water to flow along the hose to the next dipper. Irrigation systems that use dippers rather than sprinklers tend to be used by gardeners who want to water beds, hanging baskets and planters discreetly rather than creating a fountain effect.


Buying an Irrigation System

People who are new to irrigation systems are best off opting for a kit which has all of the components they need within it. A typical system that is designed for domestic use will have a 3/4" faucet female thread connector so that it can be hooked up to an external tap with ease. Many will also include a single controller or timer and a couple of sprinklers as well as a hose. Remember to check that the hose long enough for the needs of the garden and what sort of batteries the controller requires. Some irrigation systems are designed use in the home and garden and tend to be powered by the grid rather than batteries.

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