Current research shows that homeowners can save between 50% and 70% of their water bill by optimizing the irrigation system and using native plants in garden design. Using the types of irrigation heads that match the plants you have, so that they can get the right amount of water and absorb it properly, is part of the optimization of the sprinkler system.
Too much water and you waste what you paid for. Too much water and your plants die. This includes trees. This article will show you the best types of sprinkler heads to use on the types of plants you have.
In the middle of my garden, in the condominium complex where I used to live, there was a tall, attractive and relatively young pine tree. I noticed that it threw enough needles, which sometimes indicates a lack of water. Although the lawn underneath it was quite green, I was worried and mentioned it in our head office. Clearly, trees need more water than grass. They took it.
One night we had a wind storm. I heard a great crack and the next morning I saw one of the pine branches on my roof. I notified the reception and suggested that they remove a corresponding branch to keep the weight of the tree balanced. I also suggested (again) a change in irrigation. He ignored both suggestions.
Several months later we had another wind storm. This time, the other lower branch snapped, tearing the trunk in half as it fell. The office hired a logger to knock down the pine, who noticed that the tree did not have sap. Now the pines are known for the sticky sap that obstructs any chainsaw that prunes them. But this tree was not being watered properly, even though the grass was underneath, and its wood was completely dry.
This could be happening to you: to any of the trees, shrubs, flowers or even the lawn of your garden. I could water too much and drown the plants, or water too little and dry them. Placing the correct types of sprinkler heads on your irrigation system, then properly programming them on the controller, is one way to ensure that the correct amount of water reaches your plants.
Sprinklers are one of the three components of a healthy sprinkler system. There are also the types of plants you have included in your landscape, and the type of controller you use and how it is programmed. I have written other articles that deal with these two areas, so I will not go into them here, but in the pictures below.
The prickly pear is native to southern California and requires little or no water when planted there. When planted in a more humid climate, it requires a special soil with a large drainage, an extremely sunny spot and no water once it has been established.
The irrigation controllers allow you to separate your landscape into different irrigation sections called “stations”. Then you can program each station to water at different times for different periods of time, depending on the sprinkler heads you use.
The heads of sprinklers that are suitable for your landscape will be those that feed the water of your plants in the particular way they like. Some plants, for example, do not like their leaves to be wet, so you do not want to use a sprayer to water that plant. Instead, you would separate that part of the landscape, install any of the sprinkler heads that fit that section, and give your own watering schedule to the controller.
There are three main classes of sprinkler heads: spray heads and spray rotors with different size and shape nozzles, bubble heads and drip or soak systems. Each one works better for a different type of planting.
What characterizes the spray heads (and rotors) is that they spray water up and out in an even application. This applies water to the surface of the plants, including the leaves. Since many types of plants do not like their leaves to be watered, you would use this type of sprinkler mainly on grass.
The spray nozzles in operation. Keep in mind the continuous spray that saturates the lawn. This lawn is small and protected, so runoff is not the problem the lawn would have in a bank.
And here is a rotor in action. These are used in larger lawns and lawns with banks. They rotate from one side to the other, which gives the floor time to absorb the spray before it reappears.
Rain Bird CP5004PC Pro Rotor with Pro Set nozzle, 40 ° – 360 ° Pattern, 25 ‘- 50 Spray Distance
Rain Bird is a leading producer of high quality sprinkler heads. This rotating nozzle is specially manufactured to prevent the wind from dragging the spray and reduce evaporation. Instead, extra-large drops of water fall directly to the ground.
Most irrigation systems are equipped with nozzles that rest on the ground and only appear when the controller activates them. They are used in places where a mower is likely to damage something that is higher than the grass level.
Sometimes, you will see sprinkler heads placed on permanent risers that raise them higher than normal, so they can spray over the area of a garden with a ground cover. Sometimes they are also used for flower beds, where maintenance is difficult to achieve.
Spray nozzles come in different sizes and spray patterns. Some spray constantly in a 360 degree circle. You would use those in the middle of a lawn. Those that spray in a 180 degree arc (one side only) are for the edges of the lawn. And those that spray only a quarter of a circle (90 degrees of arc) or less are for corners.
For the smaller types, you will periodically have to make sure they are spraying in the right direction, so you do not waste water spraying a sidewalk or driveway (what is known as “bow misalignment”). You can easily adjust them by hand.