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Step 6: Planning the Irrigation System

  • Plan for separate valves (zones or stations) for each different area in the garden (this will increase the number of valves, zones or stations, but it will help you to save plants from over watering, save on home damage from consistently wet soils, and increase your ability to manage the landscape efficiently)

  • Plan for separate valves for sun areas, shade areas and filtered sun areas

  • Plan for spray on groundcover and turf areas

  • Plan for low-volume spray or drip irrigation on slope areas (otherwise too much water output by sprinklers will runoff, erode the slope and produce weak and unhealthy plants)

  • Plan for drip line irrigation on native plants (many natives do not like water sprayed on their leaves)

  • Plan to “match” irrigation heads (e.g., water output for a full circle head is twice the output for a half circle head) on each valve (zone or station)

  • Plan to direct water spray away from house siding, sidewalks, structures to avoid mold, water damages and erosion

  • See Watering section for more information.

Upgrade The Existing Irrigation System:

  • Plan what you want the garden to “become” before planning irrigation system changes.

  • With a new landscape plan, it is likely that new irrigation heads, perhaps more heads, or perhaps adapting to drip irrigation, etc. will need to be part of the plan.

  • In many cases the existing irrigation piping can be used. Often modifications to different sprinkler heads and to drip irrigation can be accomplished with the existing piping system.

Questions to ask before planning the irrigation system retrofit include:

  • Will the new plants block the water spray of the existing heads?

  • Will the new design get uniform coverage of water with the existing irrigation system?

  • Does the existing irrigation system spray water on the house, the street, fences, etc?

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