Five Irrigation Mistakes to Avoid

Walking up to a well-maintained front or backyard is a lovely feeling. It is refreshing, no matter how tired you might be. Seeing that fruit popping out between green leaves and some colorful flowers on your lawn is energizing.

You need to have well-trimmed and healthy trees, grass, and shrubs to improve the curb appeal of your house. For your greens to be healthy, you need to irrigate them regularly and irrigate them well. You can use three main irrigation methods: manual watering, sprinkler irrigation, or drip irrigation.

Whichever method you choose, here are five irrigation mistakes you have to avoid.

1. Overwatering the Plants

You might think providing your plants with excess water will make them look healthier. But that is not true. Plants need just enough water to keep them going.  

Overwatering will drown the roots of your plants. If you overwater, your plants will not get enough oxygen, which is vital for their growth. This means the cells in the roots of your plants will suffocate and die.

If you have shallow-rooted plants on your lawn, they will become stressed when you supply them with too much water. This will make them more susceptible to an attack by insects and diseases. Minor insect and disease problems can escalate when you overwater shallowly rooted plants.

Overwatering also encourages the growth of weeds, particularly those that thrive in swampy areas. They will most likely appear when you have overwatered your lawn for more than two years. Such weeds are very difficult to control.

Overwatering is also a waste of time and money. You’ll waste a lot of time supplying too much water, which doesn’t help and only increases your water bill. Furthermore, an overwatered lawn consumes too much fertilizer. This is not only uneconomical, but it is also an environmental threat.

2. Not Matching Your Drippers to the Water Needs of Specific Plants

Not all plants require the same amount of water. Knowing the water needs of the variety of plants you have is very important. This will make sure you provide each type of plant with just enough water. That is why it is advisable to have plants with the same water requirements in the same region. Otherwise, you will overwater some plants and underwater others.

If that is not possible, you can use a drip irrigation method to provide different amounts of water to the plants. In such a case, put a dripper with a higher flow rate next to plants that require more water. For plants that require less water, you can use drippers with low flow rates.

Place the drippers about 6 inches away from big plants to prevent fungal infections. Use two drippers, one on either side of the plant, to ensure proper watering.

3. Exceeding the Tubing Capacity of the Irrigation System

This is perhaps the most common mistake made by those who lack lawn irrigation experience. If you are not aware of your system’s capacity, you may end up overloading it. This usually happens when you want to pump as much water as possible in a short time.

For example, a half-inch poly tube should deliver water at a rate of 200 gallons/hour. It should have a single running length of 200 feet. This is the 200/200 rule. If you exceed this running length, you’ll have irregular water flow at the drip emitter. It is the friction between the water and the walls of the tube that causes this problem. For a 3/4-inch tube, apply the 480/480 rule, and the 30/30 rule for a 1/4-inch tube.

Each irrigation system comes with a Tubing Guide that should help you understand the capacity of the system. The buyer's guide has lots of useful information that will guarantee your irrigation system operates optimally.

4. Inadequate Flow Rate or Water Supply

An irrigation system aims to supply your lawn with enough water. If the plants do not get enough water, they will wither and die. The water flow rate shouldn’t be less than the rate that your irrigation system requires.

If you are using the 200 gallons/hour drippers rated at 1 gallon/hour on each tube, your supply shouldn’t go below that capacity. If it does, the water flow will become inconsistent. If your water source cannot match this capacity, then you can reduce the number of emitters. Another solution is to use drippers with low flow rates, which may require splitting your system into many zones.

All this boils down to the fact that a good water supply source is necessary before installing an irrigation system.

5. Using Very High or Very Low Supply Pressure

The average pressure required by many irrigation systems is 25 psi. This is the optimal pressure required for the irrigation system to perform well. Some emitters rated at 25 psi can even work at a pressure of 15 psi. The water output will be low at such a low pressure, and it will take longer to irrigate your lawn. You will also experience irregular water flow.

Too much pressure may cause your fitting to pop off. Your drippers will also not drip. Instead, they will squirt. Very high pressure may also cause your pipes to rupture.

When the fitting pops out or the pipes rupture, you may have to replace the entire irrigation system.

Final Words

Having an efficient irrigation system needs the input of an expert. This is not a DIY project. An expert will also know the right time to irrigate, so you don’t harm your plants. You may irrigate well but are doing it at the wrong time. Remember, watering at night is best because there is a low rate of evaporation.

So before you install an irrigation system, have an expert assess the size of your lawn. After that, the expert will also assess the water needs of each plant. It is only after gathering this information that the expert will decide on an appropriate irrigation system.

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