Why is Coverage So Poor?
Conventional irrigation systems perform at about 60% efficiency, mostly due the need for coverage over irregularly shaped areas. This leads to lawns with brown spots, certain plants out performing other s in summer heat, overspray onto hardscape surfaces, or a few shrubs hogging water. There are a number of techniques and tricks to help alleviate or solve these problems altogether.
Go Below the Surface
One way to avoid overspray, poor coverage, and evaporation of irrigation water is to use a subsurface drip system for planting areas and nixing those spray heads and rotors. Applying water at ground level gives plants the water they need right where they need it. Low-flow, sub surface drip lines can save time, cost less to install, and include long lasting technologies. Windy days, 90+ degree temperatures, fences, and other features blocking the spray are not worries with a properly installed drip system. While drip technology continues to improve for lawn irrigation systems, it is not yet to the level of standard pop-up and rotor sprinklers.
Another innovation that has taken hold in recent years is the use of smart irrigation controllers. Easily linked to a Wi-Fi connection, a smart irrigation controller takes the worry away by adjusting the system in real time and applying just the amount of water needed. These controllers link into weather information and heat indexes to adjust sprinkler frequency and timing zone by zone. These considerations save homeowners time and money, and improve plant and sod health overall. Many models also link via apps to smart phones, tablets, and lap tops to give users full system control. A wide variety of monitoring options allows homeowners to get the most of their systems while at work or away from the house.
Spray Heads and Rotors
Pop-up spray heads and rotors also can be upgraded with optional equipment and new models to increase efficiency. Spraying past the intended target, misdirection from wind, and blockage from low lying features are all common problems that can be rectified. Spray heads can use variable arc nozzles (VAN) to control spray head arc from 0-360 degrees. Pop-up spray heads come in 6” and even 12” heights to get water over obstructions and provide better coverage. Low angle sprinklers are a popular option for avoiding any breeze affecting water throw. These options especially help on sport fields and over long distances to keep the spray under the wind and to water uniformly. Below are some additional resources to help with irrigation coverage issues.
Rainbird: An industry leader for irrigation products and support.
DIY Sprinkler Company: A supplier with good tips and products to help with sprinkler coverage issues.