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How to Irrigate a Low Maintenance Garden

The low maintenance garden can be a simple and effective way to elevate your lawn or garden. A well-shaped hedge or flax plant can look amazing and can also have a simple and effective irrigation system to keep them alive and well.

In this Irrigation guide, we will go through the products and installation to get a beautiful low maintenance garden.

Have a look at the categories below at the recommended products for the different systems.

For this example, we will create an irrigation system using dripline for a row of hedges.

Dripline is easily the most efficient and effective way to water your low maintenance gardens. Easily hidden in the garden and giving water directly to the roots. You don't waste the water and dripline if treated correctly will last you years.

Pros:

  • No overspray onto paths and fences.
  • No issues with leaves, flowers or branches getting in the way and stopping the water getting to where it’s needed
Low-Maintenance-Garden-Hedge

Dripline

The installation of dripline is straightforward and do-able for any newcomer to irrigation. Dripline consists of many inbuilt drippers in the line. Each dripper will give you a pressure compensated amount of litres per hour. Netafim's Techline is available in either 1.6 L/hr or 3.0 L/hr. The lengths of dripline available are either 50m or 100m coils.

The reason this is ideal for low maintenance gardens is the simplicity in installation and effectiveness in watering. Either sub-surface or above ground the dripline provides water directly to the roots of the plant.

  • Do not use dripline above any weed mat. The mat will cause the water to sit and run off the mat and not get to the roots.

 

Brand: Netafim.

Pipe Diameter: 13mm

Integral pressure-compensating, continuously self-cleaning, anti-siphon, 13mm brown heavy wall dripline

Domestic & light commercial surface and sub-surface applications

Netafim's 13mm Brown Dripperline is the ideal choice for applications involving:

  • Sub-surface or on-surface installations
  • Slopes
  • High wind areas
  • Areas subject to vandalism
  • Planting areas
  • Curved, narrow, and unshaped planting areas
  • Turf, flower beds, trees, and shrubs
  • Rooftop gardens
  • Green walls
  • High traffic or high liability areas
  • Raised planters

Features

  • Pressure compensating
    • Precise and equal amounts of water are delivered over a broad pressure range.
    • 100% uniformity of water and nutrient distribution along laterals.
  • Continuous self-flushing dripper design
    • Flushes debris as it is detected throughout the operation, and not only at the beginning or end of a cycle; this ensures uninterrupted dripper operation.
  • Anti-siphon mechanism
    • Prevents contaminants from being drawn into the dripper
  • Flexible tubing- Adaptable to any planting area shape
  • UV resistant - Withstands heat and direct sunlight for on-surface installations.
  • Single-hole dripper outlet from tubing

Installation

Whether it is for sub-surface application or above ground, the installation remains the same. The only things to consider is how much water's applied to the area. (in this case the roots of the hedge)

We use the snake pattern to run the dripline between the necessary plants. The layout may look like overkill with watering in the middle where no trunks are, but your goal is to encourage root growth. Having drippers spread out between the plants, help the roots to spread and search for more water. Promoting healthy and robust plants and keeping your garden beautiful.

Snake Pattern

Pros

  • Simple and effective.
  • Encourages root growth.
  • Direct delivery of water.
  • Perfect for plants that don't need a lot of water.
  • One line = less fittings & less installation time.

Cons

  • Not as accurate water distribution resulting in poor root growth.
  • Harder installation to get the dripline between the plants. (if plants are already grown).
  • Least consistent and efficient watering pattern
dripline-installation-snake-pattern
dripline-installation-loop-pattern

Parallel Pattern

Pros

  • Twice as much water than other patterns.
  • Encourages root growth.
  • Direct delivery of water.
  • A good pattern for water-hungry plants
  • Consistent and most efficient watering for an area

Cons

  • Twice as much dripline used.
  • More fittings and hose staples required.
  • Increase in installation time.
dripline-installation-parallel-pattern
dripline-installation-loop-pattern

Loop Pattern

Pros

  • Can accurately see how much water each tree is receiving.
  • Encourages root growth.
  • Direct delivery of water.
  • Easily expandable in need be.
  • Perfect for trees or larger spaced plants.
  • Less dripline used.
  • Larger trees can have multiple loops around the tree

Cons

  • More fittings required.
  • Increase in installation time.
  • Requires a mainline of lateral pipe
dripline-installation-loop-pattern
dripline-installation-loop-pattern

The loop patterns recommended for larger trees with greater distances between them. The loop allows you to accurately judge how much water is going to each plant base by counting the number of drippers per loop. No wastage in dripline as the mainline is in a lateral pipe.

This pattern also allows for natural dripline extension. If the trees are expected to grow, you can simply join more dripline, via a joiner.

Tip:

  • Dripline can be buried under dirt, mulch, bark or stones, 1” or 25mm is ideal but can be deeper if needed. (but becomes harder to see if it's working)
  • Do not use dripline above any weed mat. The mat will cause the water to sit and run off the mat and not get to the roots.
Low-Maintenance-Garden-Hedge-with-line

Filter

For a dripline system to operate correctly, you will need a good filter. The standard filter for a dripline system is the 130 Micron Disc Filters.
Disc Filters are a much better option than the conventional Screen Filter, due to the larger filtration area. A standard Disc Filter will last years where a Nylon or Stainless Steel screen can wear and puncture over time.

The reason we recommend a filter before your dripline is because it may get blocked by larger particles. Once a dripper is blocked, it becomes hard to notice, and your plant gets no water.

  • Please Note: Direction of water flow is moulded on filter body depending on the filter element type. (Disc or Screen)
  • The filter must be installed anywhere horizontally below the pipeline.
filter-screen-disc

Lateral Fittings vs Dripline Fittings

A confusing area around dripline is the size and correct fittings to use. The industry standard for most dripline is 16mm OD and 14mm ID. These use the dripline double barbed fittings. Even though they say 16mm, they're made for 14mm ID dripline.

The dripline we are recommending is 13mm ID, meaning you can use either the standard 13mm Lateral fittings or the 16/14mm dripline fittings. The benefits of using the 16mm dripline fittings, you won't have to use the Ratchet Clips, as you do for the Lateral Fittings because of the double barbs. The cons of using the dripline fittings are they are harder to push in.

Lateral Fitting - Single Barb
lateral-fitting-with-clip

Pros:

  • Easier to insert into the tube

Cons:

  • Needs Ratchet Clips to secure correctly
Dripline Fitting - Double barbed
double-barbed

Pros:

  • No need for Ratchet Clips with double barbed fittings
  • Less spending due to no Clips needed

Cons:

  • Slightly harder to insert into the tube

Tip: Hot/boiling water will loosen the tube for easier insertion.

 

Pressure Regulating Valve

Pressure regulators are a vital item for any dripline system. If your pressure is too high, the dripline will squeak/squeal or even burst; this is an indication that you need to reduce the pressure.

Putting this at the start of your system can guarantee you get an even distribution of water between drippers.

Recommended operating pressure for dripline is 40kpa - 250kpa

pressure-compensator

Valve

An optional item that can be very beneficial is a flush valve for the end of your dripline system. We recommend having a flush valve in if you are using any water source other than the standard garden tap or house mains. Water from tanks, bores or pumps run the risk of sucking particles through the line, risking blockages.

Even during the installation of the dripline, there are little ways to prevent soil from getting into the line. With the flush valve, you can clean the line and system before use, and close the valve to work as an end plug.

Tip:

  • It is recommended to flush the lines a couple of times a year, to get rid of any sediment etc that has dropped out of suspension and may accumulate and block the drippers.
Valve

Stakes

Use a hose staple every 1 meter to hold the dripline in place. More may be required if you are doing multiple loops around a plant.