These are the basic components of a residential irrigation system, aside from design standards and techniques, I hope this will help you understand the individual components of the system and the function they perform.
Familiarize yourself with
where the water comes from for your irrigation system. Many areas are now using
recycled or "reclaimed" water for the purpose of watering turf
grasses and landscaped areas. Ask your builder or homeowners association if
your home uses this type of water and where you would expect to shut it off in
the event of an emergency or for maintenance issues.
Some areas are still
using municipal or "city" water for irrigation. If this is the case,
instead of one, there will be two, back-flow prevention devices near the water
meter itself. They are typically at least 12" off the ground and are made
of bronze. One of these two devices would be for the sprinklers and the other
one would service the home. This is where you would turn off the water for your
sprinklers. Your local count clerk’s office or utility company will be able to
tell you about local regulations concerning irrigation systems if need be.
Even though they are
becoming a more restricted, some homes have their own well and pump or they may
pump water from an adjacent lake. In either case there will be related pumping
equipment to supply water for your sprinklers. If you are not sure how to stop
the water flow from the pump, be sure and speak with your irrigation
professional. If the system is not shut down properly severe pump damage or
failure could occur. Finally, some areas or developments have a large pumping
station that delivers water to the entire subdivision. The same goes for your reclaimed
water, make sure you know where to shut the water off for your individual
Your sprinklers will
either operate from a controller located on the interior or exterior wall of
the garage, or they may operate from a central control system. In some cases
where a single residential property has its own pump, the controller could be
located near the pumping equipment.
In the event that you
have an individual controller for the property, familiarize yourself with how
to switch the power off to the controller. Sometimes this will eliminate an
emergency situation in the event that the sprinklers will not shut off.
Irrigation controllers require high voltage to operate them, you should not
have to remove any screws or take anything apart. If a malfunction of the
controller is suspected, it should only be serviced by your irrigation
professional. If you want a green lawn, it is important to learn how to set
your timer so your lawn is being watered at the optimal time and length.
Sprinkler Heads and Positioning
Know what type of
sprinkler head you have. Any given property may or may not have rotary
sprinklers installed. They are generally used in large turf areas that are 20'x
20' or more. They will shoot a large stream of water and will oscillate back
and forth slowly. Rotary sprinklers operate on the same basis as the older
impact or "knocker head" sprinklers, but most of them are gear driven
these days, which makes them much quieter.
Stationary sprinklers or
"spray heads" are used in smaller turf areas and may be used in
landscape beds as well. Spray heads pop up out of the ground but do not move.
They spray more of a mist, compared to rotary sprinklers. Spray heads come in
4", 6" and 12" heights. The size that is used depends on the
type of turf grass or the sprinklers specific location in a landscape bed. The
landscaped areas of the home may also have what is referred to as a standpipe.
These are nothing more than a spray head nozzle attached to a fixed riser in
order to attain sufficient clearance over the closer plants so the water can
reach the distant plants. In order to have full coverage, overlapping your
sprinkler spraying pattern diameters by 50 percent will ensure that you have
Low Volume Irrigation
Low volume, or drip irrigation, is commonly used in
landscape and planting beds. Because of their high efficiency in providing
water directly to the root system, drip is a cost and water saving tactic that
most landscapers use. Emitters on a drip system also apply water at a much
lower rate, reducing run off. To learn more about low volume irrigation, check
out our Drip Design Guide link
Rain Sensing Devices
Rain sensing devices or "rain sensors" are devices that cease all watering in the event sufficient rainfall is detected. They are usually located near the controller, sometimes on the eave of the roof or mounted on conduit pipe in the landscape bed. Rain sensors have been mandatory components of an irrigation system's in many states for several years now and should be checked for proper operation regularly.
Almost all irrigation
systems have an individual control valve for each station or zone. They are
usually located at random intervals around the landscape with only the lid
visible. The lid on most control valves will be about 6" in diameter and
green or purple in color. The purple lid indicates that the water comes from a
non-potable source; most often this means it is reclaimed water. The green lid
will indicate clean water. If there is a considerably larger box that is
rectangular in shape it may house multiple control valves or the filter for the
drip irrigation if applicable.