Expert offers tips on lawn irrigation systems
Why do most people install an irrigation system, and what's the installation process?
"Most people want to keep their lawn looking nice and neat. Some do it because of concern for water conservation or because they might not need their whole lawn watered. Many are required by their neighborhood associations to have some sort of irrigation system in place.
Who we talked to
Eddie Thompson, manager
Osborne Irrigation Inc.
We look at the property and talk to the owner to find out their needs. After that, we start from a corner of the yard and work around the perimeter, marking spots 35 feet apart and breaking the yard into zones. We size the zones based on the sprinkler heads used and the water pressure emitted by the water meter. Spacing is important - we don't want any gaps in coverage between two heads. One type of sprinkler head is a gear-driven rotary head. It gives us more coverage on larger areas. For smaller areas, like strips of grass, we have special fixed-spray or mist heads."
What equipment is involved, and how does it work?
"We'll install an automatic control, usually in the garage or some place where the owner can access it. From the control, we run low-voltage wires to electric valves that control each individual zone. Water comes in from the water meter and flows through a required backflow - this prevents any contaminants from backing into your drinking water. From there, the water runs into the main line, which feeds all of your zones. The electric valves run off this main line. The water pressure is constant, and once the individual electronic water valve is activated by the automatic control, water runs through the electronic valve into the piping that feeds the individual sprinkler heads."
What does a homeowner need to do to maintain their irrigation system and keep it running properly?
"Most people run their systems while they're sleeping. I recommend they run a test while they're home on a Saturday. This test should quickly bump through each zone for a couple minutes, so you can walk around and check each head. They should do this at least once or twice a month. I also recommend they run their systems just before sunup and in the early morning. Some of the water needs to burn off to avoid fungus."