Fact Sheet from the Just Fruits and Exotics Nursery
by Brandy Cowley Gilbert
Micro Sprinkler Irrigation and You
Getting water to our fruits, shrubs, flowers, trees and vegetables
is often the difference between healthy thriving plants and dead ones.
Mother Nature doesn't always give us what we need in the way of soil
moisture. Shallow rooted plants and sandy soils make proper watering
even more crucial. We've all spent too much time lugging hoses and
setting sprinklers, time that could be better spent gardening.
Fortunately, farmers and engineers have devised some clever ways to
water. Recent innovations deliver water efficiently and thoroughly.
Modular systems have now been designed that can be scaled up for a 500
acre orchard or down for a suburban flower-bed. It can be as easy as
turning on a spigot.
folks are familiar with drip irrigation. In drip irrigation, small
emitters drip water onto the root zone of individual plants. We've used
a lot of drip irrigation, but emitters are prone to clogging and water
is unevenly applied to the root zone. In sandy soils, little of the
root zone may receive water - it just runs right through. We kept
looking until we found a better alternative. Here at Just Fruits we use
This is a simple system of
flexible polypipe water lines laid where you need water for your
landscape. Polypipe can easily be cut to length with pruning shears or
a knife and linked together with simple pressure fittings. No threading
or gluing required! Attached to the lines are micro-sprinklers that put
water where you want it, and nowhere else. Fittings are designed with
both hose thread and pipe thread so the system can easily be hooked
onto your outside spigots, or a more complex system can be designed
using traditional PVC pipe and fittings.
fittings include tees, straight connectors, elbow, in-line valves for
manually turning off parts of the system and end caps. You can use a
manual or battery-operated faucet timer, or a time clock and solenoid
valves, to automate the process. These devices not only save the labor
of remembering to turn the system off and on, but they can also promote
healthier plants, due to even and consistent watering. Because polypipe
is flexible, UV resistant, and resistant to freezes, lines can be run
on the surface of the bed, covered with mulch or buried. It all adds up
to a versatile system that makes watering your landscape a snap.
heart of the system is the Micro-sprinkler. These are small sprinklers
that are adjusted to put the water where you need it. There are several
kinds of micro-sprinklers for different applications.
sprinklers water up to an 8-foot diameter, and come with
interchangeable pattern caps that enable you to water all or part of a
circle around the sprinkler. This is particularly effective for
watering odd-shaped beds or areas bordering buildings and sidewalks, as
the water can be directed away from the structure. The distance that
the sprinkler covers is adjustable and the maxi-jets may be placed on
stakes to cover taller flowers. Whizz-head sprinklers cover a round
area, up to 12 feet in diameter. They are excellent for watering large
beds or vegetable gardens. The diameter is adjustable and like
maxi-jets, the whizz-heads may be placed on tall stakes if needed.
micro-sprinklers cover up to a 5-foot circle. These are attached to low
stakes and are placed close to the trunk of the tree spraying at ground
level. They are perfect for medium to large shrubs and fruit trees. The
amount of water is easily adjustable and the large aperture makes them
easy to clean. They are also very inconspicuous.
Planning your System
this section we'll discuss the basics of planning your system. We'll
concentrate on the home system, but we routinely design and install
large orchard systems. Call us for help no matter what size system you
The first step in planning your system is making a
sketch of your property. Where are the water pump, the existing water
lines, and the spigots? Which flowerbeds or shrubbery need water? A
sketch map with approximate distances and locations is all you need.
Draw in areas to be watered and label by types and sizes of plants.
Remember that different types of plants need different amounts of water.
making your map, decide how many zones you will need. Flowerbeds are
usually best watered with maxijets and whizzheads while shrubs, fruit
trees and landscape trees usually do better with vortex
micro-sprinklers. We recommend that zones contain no more than 25
maxijet micro-sprinklers on a ¾” line or 10
micro-sprinklers for a ½” polypipe line. Vortex
micro-sprinklers should be rated at no more than 45 per ¾" line
or 20 per ½" line. You can mix maxijet micro-sprinklers and
vortexs on the same line. For each zone identify a water source. This
can be either a water faucet for simple systems or a PVC water line for
more complicated systems.
Bring your plan and a list of
the parts you need in to us. We'll go over it with you and suggest ways
to make things as easy as possible.
For Simple Systems Using a Hose Bibb
system first begins with a back-flow preventer. This ensures that no
stale, algae-laden water trapped in the line gets back into the well or
city water system. Next is a Y valve. This allows you to operate the
system and a water hose at the same time. From here you can either go
with a manual or battery-operated timer. Next comes the pressure
reducer. This slows the water pressure to 20 psi, which extends the
life of the micro-sprinklers and keeps the mist from being too fine,
causing the wind to blow it off the plants. Past this is the poly tube
adapter into which you push the poly line that goes to the plants.
For Complex Systems
system begins with an irrigation filter. This is designed to trap small
particles that might clog or wear out the components of the system.
This and a more elaborate back-flow preventer are usually inserted at
the well-head or main city waterline to treat the entire water system.
Next comes the manual valves or electric solenoids that turn the water
off and on to the zones. These can be placed all together at the head
of the system and then the water is distributed to the various zones
via either PVC or polypipe. Or main line pipes of PVC or polytube can
be run out to the zone and then the valve attached to the line (if
you're using electric valves the wires used to power the valve are run
in the trench with the pipe). Whichever way you choose you will need to
add the regulator at this point and then the poly adapter (or PVC to
polytube adapter). From there you go polytube to the plants.
Operation of Residential Irrigation Controllers from the University of Florida pdf 11 pages
Rainfall Shutoff Devices for Residential Irrigation System from the University of Florida pdf
Irrigation and Water Management Page