Many factors combine to produce a truly water-wise efficient irrigations system.
These factor include:
- Proper planning of landscape - the right plants in the right place
- Running the irrigation at the correct time of day for minimum evaporation without creating a mold problem
- Accounting for future growth of newly installed landscapes
- Using the correct technology for the correct location
- Using the latest water-efficient irrigation sprinklers and control systems
- Adequate water pressure is available
- Having a well-designed irrigation plan prior to installation
- Making sure your irrigation system is properly tuned and maintained
- Working with an expert to ensure the system is planned & installed correctly
Of course having a great plan is meaningless without the best irrigation equipment. Below are a few of the components used in todays highly water-wise landscape irrigation systems.
The heart of many irrigation systems are the sprinklers. There are many varieties available and many have specific uses designed for different jobs.
Spray-type sprinklers (often simply called "spray heads" or "sprays") are the sprinklers that create a fixed fan-shaped spray pattern, somewhat like a shower nozzle spray.
Rotor-type sprinklers (called "rotors") are the sprinklers that have one or more streams of water that rotate over the landscape. Some have a single stream that goes back and forth, or just goes in a complete circle. Another type rotor is called "stream rotors, MP Rotators or rotary nozzles", these have several fingers of water that rotate around the sprinkler in the same direction and look like spider legs. The bottom line is that if the sprinkler has a stream of water that rotates, it is a rotor-type sprinkler.
Todays sophisticated irrigation systems often have computerized controllers that tell the system when to turn on and how long to run. Some of the latest controllers even scene the weather and the seasons automatically adjusting the proper water output for the current conditions. In particular if all other portions of the irrigation system is optimal no other part of the system can save more water than the controller.
A proper irrigation system will need to be aware of rain fall. If it has recently rained a lot then running the irrigation is not just wasteful,it can be harmful by encouraging root rot, mold and other problems.
Drip Irrigation - Low Volume/Direct-to-root irrigation (also called drip/micro/maxi-jet irrigation).
Low volume is very efficient for non-turf applications. The technology applies precise amounts of water slowly and evenly at the root. Low volume irrigation helps reduce weeds and plant disease, and helps eliminate runoff. This technology also helps plants thrive with correct installation and maintenance.
In recent years WaterWise Irrigation Solutions has been using Netafim. Netafim USA products offer a wide variety of advantages to the homeowner, including saving from 30% – 70% of the water they would use with overhead sprays, oscillating sprinklers or rotors, as well as growing much healthier plants.
In fact, plants that are drip irrigated often grow to maturity as much as 50% – 70% faster, do so with less disease, and even reducing weeds in the garden.
Valve circuit / valve zone
A valve circuit or valve zone is a group of sprinklers that are all turned on and off by the same valve. Sometimes the term hydrozone is also used. Most zones sprinkler systems have several valve zones, each controlled by a different valve. The valves might be manually operated, or they may be automatic valves that are turned on and off by a controller (sometimes called a timer or irrigation clock). On the controller the valve zones may be called valve stations.
In many cases it is better to have a well installed for you irrigation system. This way you do not have to use water form your house which may be purchased from a utility, or using treated water from a water softener and adding considerable load to your water system.
Water Pressure Regulators
A common problem leading to inefficient irrigation systems is a varying water pressure. To low and the water will over irrigate close to the sprinkler head and under irrigate at the edge of it's zone. To compensate a home owner may run the system more to ensure complete coverage. By having a consistent water pressure all of the time each sprinkler head delivers the correct amount of water through out it's entire drip zone.
Rainwater Harvesting Systems
It's hard to get more efficient than capturing and using the rainwater that falls on our home or businesses roof every year. Particularly with larger homes with bigger surface areas, a lot of water can be harvested by funneling it from your roof through the gutters and into storage tanks or cisterns. With varying degrees of complexity, a large cistern system can make a big contribution as a source of irrigation water.
Though less common than water harvesting systems, greywater recycling is another way to make good use of up to 80% of the water used in the home. Greywater is usually described as the water from everything but the toilets. It can be used in the irrigation system because this water is not contaminated with high levels of bacteria. Most greywater systems can use the water from washing cloths, or bathing to process into a consistent water source for irrigation.