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6 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your First Irrigation System

By Matthew Nicolson
Published: June 12, 2020
Key Takeaways

When setting up a home irrigation system, there are quite a few things that could potentially go wrong. Here are some common mistakes to avoid.

Many gardeners and homeowners are beginning to turn to automatic irrigation to keep their beloved plants or grass watered. A simple, automated irrigation system means that when people are away from home or don’t have the time to spare, they don’t have to worry about all of their veggies, lawn or flowers receiving adequate water.

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While relatively affordable and pretty easy to set up, there are a few things that could potentially go wrong. The following is a list of irrigation mistakes people make while setting up their new systems — it will hopefully help you avoid doing the same.

Incomplete coverage of irrigation head zones

Every irrigation head has a maximum distance in which it can reach. By inaccurately measuring, or installing the irrigation system inaccurately, the intended area won’t receive full coverage. When purchasing the parts, it’s important to ensure that the correct distance spray nozzles and patterns are used for the area. If by chance the wrong ones are purchased, it’s most likely cheaper to replace that then to waste water by irrigating the wrong areas.

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Irrigating lawns and garden beds together

Grass areas should be irrigated separately from shrub and planter beds. While you think you may be saving water and money by irrigating everything together, water will actually end up being wasted. The root systems of things like trees and shrubs are much larger than grass, meaning that those plants will only require about half of the water it takes to properly irrigate your lawn.

Read also: Dialing in Hydroponic Drip Irrigation

Taking shortcuts with emitters

Using different types of irrigation heads on the same irrigation zone for simultaneous operation is ill-advised. Even with warnings on the labels and directions online, people still use different water emitters in the same irrigation zone, which causes problems.

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There are various types of irrigation heads for a multitude of purposes — sprays, bubblers, rotors, drip emitters, and micro-irrigation. As they are all used for different types of needs, they have different inch per hour (IPH) precipitation rates.

For instance, if you place a lower IPH head, something for drip/micro irrigation, with something with a higher precipitation rate like a spray head, there will end up being uneven pressure and it will result in a dry spot — and ultimately water and money wasted.

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Wrong timing of irrigation system operation

This may be the most expensive, most common, yet most avoidable irrigation mistake. While it is nice to see your irrigation system running smoothly during the daylight hours, there can be some issues associated with doing so. Irrigating during the early evening means moist plant material through the night — and an extra risk of freezing, disease, or fungal issues.

Running your irrigation during the middle of a hot day means higher rates of evaporation and less water that will make it to the root zones of your plants. Additionally, the wind is generally strongest during the day, which could prevent the irrigation spray from getting where it needs to go.

The best time to irrigate your lawn or garden is during the early daylight hours, minimizing the aforementioned risks while still allowing you to witness your irrigation masterpiece in action.

Using incorrect spray nozzle patterns

Like the irrigation head zones, choosing the wrong spray patterns could result in you plant receiving less water than needed — while the sidewalk receives an unnecessary daily watering.

Read also: Hold That Hose! Summer Garden Watering Advice

Measuring and checking back to ensure that everything is working properly will save you time and money. If by chance you’re using the incorrect one, replacing the spray nozzle and body is a much better option than wasting all of that water.

Not installing a rain shutoff device

This is a relatively inexpensive way to save a lot of money, yet most homeowners don’t take the time to consider getting a rain shutoff device. A rain shutoff device allows for the irrigation system to shut off during periods of high rainfall, or when irrigation is otherwise unnecessary. They make a bit of time to install or retrofit a current system but they could end up saving up to 15 per cent off your annual water expenses.

When setting up a home irrigation system, there are quite a few things that could potentially go wrong. By reading articles like these, talking to experts, and scouring the online resources, nearly every mistake can easily be avoided. They may take a bit of extra time to research, but working to avoid irrigation mistakes will save you a lot of hassle, water, and expenses in the future.

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Written by Matthew Nicolson

Profile Picture of Matthew Nicolson
Matthew is a specialist when it comes to plumbing and all things water related. He currently writes for ukh2o.co.uk and is passionate about educating people about good water usage. In his spare time, he enjoys spending quality family time travelling.

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