June 13, 2011

Designing and Installing a Drip Irrigation System - Part 3

If you decide to retrofit your micro irrigation system from an existing underground sprinkler system, there are a few things you need to do. You can convert to a drip system from any sprinkler head connection in your yard. Once you pick a location for your water drip system, you can remove the water sprinkler head. Attach a drip manifold to the sprinkler riser where you removed the sprinkler head. There are 4 different drip system manifolds from which you can choose:
  1. Adjustable flow - great for areas where water pressure exceeds 40 PSI
  2. Full flow - ideal for replacing bubblers and shrub sprinkler heads
  3. Shrub adapter - perfect for micro sprayers
  4. Riser adapter - allows for drip irrigation without eliminating a sprinkler head
Once you have decided what kind of manifold will work best for your situation, you can begin installation of you drip irrigation manifold. After removing the sprinkler head where you will place your manifold, you can replace it (if you are using a riser adapter manifold). Remove the end caps from each manifold port. Connect 1/4-inch drip tube to each port. Drippers or micro sprayers should be placed at the end of the irrigation drip line. To help reduce water pressure, attach a high pressure clamp near the drip manifold port.
Retrofitting projects are common for watering, hanging plants, container plants and potted shrubs as well as flower gardens, ground cover, shrubs and large plants. For hanging plant baskets, first install the drip manifold and connect your drip line. You will need tubing straps to attach drip irrigation tubing to the wall. Adjustable micro sprayers are perfect for watering hanging plants.
For potted plants and shrubs, install the dripper manifold and connect your 1/4-inch sprinkler drip line. Use tubing stakes to secure dripper tube to the ground. It is ideal to use stake-mounted micro sprinklers and multi-stream emitters for container shrubs and plants. You can adjust the water flow as needed.
For flower beds and ground cover areas as well as shrubs and larger plants, attach the multi-port drip manifold and connect it to irrigation drip tube. Add micro sprayers at the end of the dripper line or punch holes to install water emitters. Micro sprayers should be spaced no more than 10 feet apart while water drippers should be spaced no more than 3 feet apart. Both sprinklers and drippers can be mounted on stakes if desired. Secure your drip irrigation tube with tube stakes.
Be sure to flush the system before running it and test all emitters and micro sprinklers to ensure water flow rates are correct for each area. Water flow can be adjusted on the manifold (if you are using an adjustable flow manifold) or on the sprinklers or drippers (if you are using adjustable flow emitters and sprayers).
Retrofitting is relatively simple and works well for conversion to dripper irrigation. It saves money and conserves water.


Phil Goold is a retired landscaper of 30 years. He loves being outside more than anything else, except maybe pie. He enjoys connecting with other landscapers and gardeners because everyone brings something new and fun to the table. Connect with Phil on Twitter and Google+.

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