Monday, July 12, 2010

Irrigation Update

We made some progress on the irrigation for the back planter this weekend.

We were able to replace ten sprinkler heads that spit out 510 gallons per hour ("GPH") (10 heads, .85 gallons per minute) with four drip lines (soon to be five) totaling 30 gallons per hour.  I actually had to walk out and count the number of emitters right now, as we have 1 GPH emitters on most plants, with some soaker hoses on others (I guessed 3 GPH on the soaker hoses, they aren't very long).  That's a 94% decrease in our water for this area.  Granted, it will increase as we put in more plants and they get bigger, but I don't believe we'll surpass 200 GPH for this bed.  We plan on packing a lot of plants in there and making them as drought tolerant as possible.  This is where we put the Jerusalem Sage and Lion's Tail.  That potato vine in the background of the bottom picture doesn't have any irrigation going to it at the moment.  I may add an emitter as it gets hotter, but we'll wait and see.

For full disclosure, I went to Toro's website and looked at what they said the output of a 180 degree sprinkler head was, as all 10 of ours were that.  I may even be low, as our sprinkler heads were at least 13 years old, and I took the specifications of the latest and greatest.

Running all of the drip line took about three hours.  It probably could have taken a little less, but it was hot, so there was beer involved.  And, there aren't any leaks, so that shows you how damn easy it must be if a drunk can do it!

Being in Southern California, water is our most precious resource, in my humble opinion.  I've even done some research that shows it doesn't pay to recycle paper here, because of the extraordinary amount of water it takes to turn recycled paper into another usable product.  Apparently, to remove all of the toxins in the dying, bleaching and whatever else they do to it process.  I'm not done with that research, yet.  Another post.

In the meantime, I hope you'll be motivated to at least look into drip irrigation.  I'll even be happy to come out and help.  For a price, of course.  Unless you're in London, in which case I may come out for Spurs tickets!!!


  1. Not having a sprinkler system, I'd never calculated the amount of water one could save changing it to drip irrigation but I knew it had to be better. Your numbers are amazing. Water conservation is very important. I'm stunned whenever I go to a town where people run sprinklers all day letting water evaporate or run down the storm drains. Thanks for the info.

  2. Late last year, I started looking at drip irrigation, but have messed around and put that project off. We have had an increase in water fees here and we are approaching drought conditions, so a lot of more expensive water is going on my plants making proper use of water more important.

    I have thought about burying (sp?) the supply lines in the ground, or as much as possible. Did you do that? Any thoughts?

  3. Me again.
    Recycling paper in the garden is always a possiblility. I lay newspapers under mulch to smother weeds.
    A friend of mine has a worm bin. She shreds paper and feeds it to the worms with kitchen scraps. It makes a great soil amendment. I haven't tried this but she's had good results. Winter is a problem for the worms you need to use (and I really don't want a worm bin in my kitchen). Your climate may be good for them year round.
    Just a thought I had on the paper recycling topic. We recycle every scrape in our city's recycling program. (unless I put it in the garden).

  4. IG, I'll be there for the North London Derby!

    Sherlock, I was stunned, as well. I had to double check my math several times and am still thinking there is some flaw in it, but I think it's good. As for the paper, I agree things should be re-used when at all possible. Even better, they shouldn't be used in the first place, for example, all the junk mail one receives. And, yes, we recycle the paper, until I can prove otherwise.

    Jeff, these will be buried under a thick layer of mulch. I leave them up while I'm still planting, so I don't cut into one. You can also lay pvc pipe under ground and tie directly into that; however, I find the flex tubing much easier to work with.

  5. Awesome! Actually, as your plants get bigger, depending on the plants you choose, you may find they need LESS water, not more. A lot of plants just need extra water until they're established. Regardless, switching to drip makes a huge difference, both in the health of the plants, and the water savings. you could install a pool! (Joking...honest). :)

  6. Curbstone, you're absolutely correct. We have several plants that have been xerascaped for a couple of years now. The water usage may not get that much more.

    Shayla, only if they're playing Spurs and I can sit in the visitor section.

  7. I wish we had a drip system and I'm sure it is the most efficient way to water. Maybe, one day we will get that done.
    My lion's tail didn't survive our crazy winter here in Austin.

  8. Honestly, Amy, it's little more work then a traditional overhead spray system. If you already have one of those in place, you're 80% of the way there. Just like anything, it takes that first step of going out there and doing it.