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Ways to fix common irrigation problems in your garden

Irrigation systems can be temperamental and, for many, it can cause unnecessary hassles that affect their gardens. Here are some common issues that can arise with either automated or manual irrigation systems and simple ways to fix them. Creating a low maintenance garden can give you more time to enjoy your outdoor space, rather than fixing issues.

When in doubt, always get a professional to guide you. Mismanagement of your irrigation system can cause much bigger problems. As a professional garden maintenance service provider, IWESCO are the experts in their field and they have all manners of solutions for ineffective irrigation systems; from dry patches of lawn and small sprays to broken pipes and inadequate drainage. However, there are a few ways to fix common problems with irrigation systems. 

1. Pipe diameters

The size of the pipe affects the pressure of water delivered over a certain distance. If the pipe is too narrow or too wide this can cause unnecessary problems with the consistency of the water pressure. A narrow pipe can help to increase the velocity but it decreases the volume of water coming out of the sprinklers. It can also create too much friction inside the pipes which can damage your sprinklers and plumbing. 

A large pipe will allow a large volume of water to reach the sprays, but a smaller nozzle or spray is needed to increase the pressure. Many South African gardens use 20mm LDPE pipe, which is often too narrow. You could use any diameter between 25mm and 40mm, depending on the size of your garden. If you are unsure about which pipe might work, try both a small pipe and a large to see which is most effective. 

2. Sprinkler placement 

Creating a simple layout plan for your sprinklers can create maximum effectiveness of the surface area of your garden that is watered. Mismanagement of your sprinklers can cause overwatering or underwatering in some areas. You will want to use as few sprinklers as possible, as this will make it more cost-effective. 

Sprinkler heads should always be positioned so that the sprays overlap – the distance thrown by one head should meet the head of the next sprinkler. To achieve head-to-head coverage, sprinklers should be positioned equidistantly in each region. 

3. Combining sprinklers with varying precipitation rates

The most efficient way to gain accuracy and coverage is to never run several types of irrigation heads on the same zone at the same time. The precipitation rate is the volume of water that a sprinkler throws onto an area, measured in millimetres per hour. 

Do not combine different spray heads and nozzles on the same circuit unless they have the same output in terms of precipitation rate, as this will create inaccuracy in the way the sprinkler system will cover the surface area that needs to be watered. 

4. How tree roots can affect your underground pipes

When trees are improperly planted in gardens, they may cause major issues. Similarly, an underground irrigation system near a developing tree may be destroyed by its roots. As root systems expand over time, broken or corroded pipes are a regular occurence in gardens. If you notice a decrease in your water pressure, you should begin investigating for signs of broken pipes. 

The area of concern can be found by examining the grass and looking for overly green patches. Once that has been found,  it is important to not destroy the roots by cutting them off as this may cause the tree to die, but to move your pipes away from any obstruction. 

5. Overwatering your garden

To really understand how much you need to water your garden, you need to understand what type of plants you have and how much water they need. You can also decrease your water usage by creating a water-wise garden

To get luscious green grass, your lawn does not need to be watered every day; overwatering tends to lead to much bigger problems like roots becoming oversaturated. It can also create fungus in your garden and wash away important minerals in the soil that help plants grow. Lawns need about 25mm of water per week, or about 7mm every other day. In the summer, indigenous plants and trees need just 10mm to 15mm of water per week, and even less in the winter.

These are some of the most common irrigation issues that homeowners come across when doing routine garden maintenance. When installing water systems in their gardens, homeowners can consult with irrigation experts or hardware store employees. Do some research on best practices and plant water specifications to avoid some of the common issues above. 

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Written by Kate Hawthorne

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