Drip irrigation is the most water efficient system available to water your garden. Some systems are so efficient that they only allow a few litres of water per hour to fall into the soil! We’ve put together a guide on what you need to know about drip irrigation.
Drip irrigation is the best way to water the plants at ground level where they need it the most. It was initially developed for the agricultural industry but it is now extremely popular in Australian residential gardens, due to their water efficiency. You can set up a system that waters the entire garden at once, or you can set up a system that irrigates certain parts of the garden as efficiently as possible. For example, you could have a separate system for vegetables, natives, and other plants as they all have different water requirements.
The components of a drip irrigation system include:
Nearly all drip irrigation systems will require a filter. This is especially important if you are running your pipes from your rainwater tank. Filters prevent clogging of the system by small waterborne particles. Some residential systems will be installed without filters as the water supply is already filtered at the water treatment plant, but all drip irrigation manufacturers recommend that filters are used and generally will not honour warranties if there is no filter.
Design is an important part of any drip irrigation installation. It is a good idea to work out the number of connectors needed for the system. Be aware of your plants’ watering needs – plants in sunny areas need more water than plants in shady areas. Pay attention to the slopes and the type of soil in your garden. If you have a heavy clay soil, you may require more water pressure to compensate. Select the drip emitters to match your plants’ watering requirements and consider where joints and connectors are best placed. Before digging any trenches, lay the piping above ground. This will allow you to see if you have the best placement first, before any heavy work.
When digging, be aware of the placement of utilities such as drainpipes, electricity cables, gas, etc. A trench 10cm deep should be more than adequate unless you have sandy soil, in which case it should be a little deeper. It is a good idea to have your drip emitters above the ground, to minimise the chances of them becoming clogged by dirt.
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