Well-fed, well-watered, green and healthy – that’s the look of an ideal lawn. And the best way to help out your grass during the dry and thirsty days of summer is to install a lawn irrigation or sprinkler system. It will minimize wastage and direct water to the grass roots where it is needed.
For the homeowner there are two types of sprinkler systems to consider: manual and permanently installed underground systems.
Manual or Stationary Sprinklers
This is the easiest and most affordable option, especially if you have a small lawn. These types of sprinklers spray continuously in one pattern. All that is required is a long hose and a sprinkler spout for the end. The sprinkler spike is shoved into the ground, or placed on top and turned on. Here’s where it gets tricky as there are a wide variety of sprinkler spigots available. Is one type better than the other? Judge for yourself.
• Oscillating sprinklers are probably the most common type used. The metal arm (which is a hollow tube with holes punched in it) fans back and forth spraying a shower of water that covers an area about 20 X 30 feet in size.
• Pulsating or impulse sprinklers shoot water out in jets or bursts. They are designed to cover a circle. They come in two versions: a spike or a base which is laid on the ground. This type of sprinkler uses less water pressure but still can amply water a circle up to 50 feet.
• Rotary sprinklers often come with three arms that spin as water sprays over the lawn in an arc. The volume of water being sprayed can usually be adjusted.
Manually watering the lawn or garden during the day uses 50% more water due to evaporation. This can be reduced significantly with an automated sprinkler system. There are two types:
The plumbing for these sprinklers is buried underground and fixed pop-up nozzles spray water at defined times. The pop-up heads are practically invisible when not in use. Various types of heads can be used to spray water up to 15 ft. or rotating sprinklers can shoot water out 20-40 ft.
It is important to adjust the heads correctly so that water is not wasted lost by being sprayed on the sidewalk, driveway and road. This system is easily operated on a timer.
This type of system uses underground tubing with tiny holes that allow water to seep out and target certain areas. It is efficient and conserves water by delivering the moisture directly to thirsty roots. There is less run-off and puddling compared to other systems. This type of system is generally used for shrubs or non-conventional lawns.
Selecting Sprinkler Heads
Select a sprinkler system and spray heads depends on the size of lawn and the amount of coverage required. Since pop-up heads are installed underground, be sure they are situated where they will not be damaged by lawn mowers or foot traffic. Most are adjustable, so play with them until the right height is achieved.
No matter what type of sprinkler system you use, the trick to healthy grass roots is to water infrequently but deeply. Splashing water daily over the grass encourages shallow roots and the grass will have no option but to die back when it becomes too hot and is not watered at the same frequency.
Whatever sprinkler system you choose – remember to water deeply.
By: Beverley Burgess Bell