JUNE 2016 – Installing a drip irrigation system is a perfect way to conserve water on any property. These efficient watering systems are easy to install and can be used almost anywhere including planting beds, raised planters, and landscapes with trees, shrubs, or even vegetable gardens. It’s not recommended for turf. Drip irrigation systems have been known to reduce water usage by at least 30% compared to other watering methods.
LaBahn’s Landscaping has helped many customers reap huge savings by replacing existing high-pressure sprinkler systems with smart drip irrigation systems and by upgrading existing watering systems to use smart controllers and other water-conserving technology.
How Drip Irrigation Works
Drip irrigation applies water only to where it is needed, directly to the roots of plants, improving plant health, conserving water, and discouraging the growth of weeds. Because water is not sprayed up and out, there’s no overspray, and it’s less likely to get carried away by the wind or evaporated in the sun before being absorbed into the soil.
Pieces and Parts
Whether you’re looking to upgrade or maintain your existing system, or are interested in starting over with a new, water-efficient way to water your landscape, here’s a primer on the essential parts of a low-flow drip irrigation system:
1. Irrigation Controllers:
The first step in ensuring an efficient drip irrigation system is installing an efficient irrigation controller. Here are two controllers we work with regularly and highly recommend:
HermitCrab Universal Smart Controller – The HermitCrab is compatible with most irrigation controllers and systems, including Hunter®, Irritrol®, Rain Bird®, Rain Master®, and Superior/Sterling™. It plugs into the irrigation controller you may already have, and turns it into a Smart Controller. Using Smart Controllers, irrigation systems adapt to local weather information and can automatically adjust watering times to the most efficient parts of the day. The HermitCrab system includes online remote access, allowing you to receive real-time alerts and make adjustments as needed from any mobile device, and provides water efficiency reports.
WeatherTrak Controller – Not only are we trained and certified to install, operate, and maintain WeatherTrak controllers, we are a strong supporter of this remarkable technology. By using WeatherTrak systems, leaks and breaks can be detected quickly, allowing property owners to react to and correct problems expediently. The system also uses site-specific, real-time weather and soil data to monitor and adjust water flow, ensuring maximum efficiency and the optimal appearance of your landscape at all times.
There are several rebates available to California property owners that cover (most of) the cost of these controllers. Our experts can help you take advantage of these rebates. Please see our Landscaping Rebates page or contact us to learn more about current rebate programs.
2. Backflow Preventer:
As the name suggests, this device prevents water from flowing back into the water source. It’s installed close to the valve and has an angled flap inside that acts as a barrier. When water flows in the wrong direction, the flap closes and remains closed until the pressure of the “back flowing” water subsides.
3. Pressure Regulator:
Pressure Regulators reduce the pressure of normal water flow from up to 60 psi to about 20 psi. Drip Irrigation uses 10 to 30 psi. If a pressure regulator is not installed, drip irrigation systems will be damaged by the high pressure of normal water flow.
4. Drip tubing Adaptor:
A drip tubing adapter is used to connect the tubing to the water source. It adapts the water source from a normal hose thread to a drip tubing connection.
5. Drip tubing:
When selecting the right drip irrigation, it’s important to use a tubing designed to withstand the site’s surroundings. If people will be walking through the area or animals might dig in it, we suggest using Netafim tubing which has a thick, durable wall that allows for a smooth flow of water while resisting clogs. It’s UV resistant and comes in a brown color that blends into the landscape. Drip tubing should be snaked around plantings throughout your landscape, and then staked down every 3 feet to ensure that it safely stays in place.
Emitters allow water to drip out at a consistent rate without clogging. Emitters can either hook directly into the main line of tubing or can be attached via micro-tubing that extends out to the roots of plants. Once all of your tubing is laid out, staked in place, and emitters are connected, the drip system is ready to operate.
We’ve helped many types of property owners conserve water and save money using drip-irrigation systems and other environmentally-friendly landscaping upgrades. We recently worked with Kaiser Permanente using these methods, and helped them conserve water by over 50 percent. Our partnership was recently recognized by the City of Carlsbad, California, who congratulated us for our conservation efforts:
“Thank you, LaBahn’s Landscaping, for all of your conservation efforts at The Kaiser building at 6800 Avenida Encina. I was at the site and saw the new landscape and low flow watering system that is in place. Very nice. I also noticed this has made a big difference in the water usage. You have reduced water consumption by over 50% since 2013 (our base year). The City of Carlsbad thanks you for your efforts in this time of drought.”
– Mike Fairbanks, Water Conservation Specialist, City of Carlsbad
The project is highlighted in this recent video, where landscape designer Ryan Burrow describes his approach to water conservation using drought-tolerant native plants, drip irrigation systems, and the latest landscaping best practices.
Contact LaBahn’s today to find out how we can help you conserve water with a new drip irrigation system.