Planning Garden Irrigation Systems - Melbourne
Chris Williams, December 2016
Garden Sprinklers Systems & Irrigation
Summer has arrived and we’ve finally had some days above the 30 degree mark. The hot summer months get people thinking about the watering needs of their gardens as some plants begin to wilt or even die. Most people no longer have time to stand around watering a garden with a hand held hose even though this can be very relaxing! Since Stage One water restrictions were lifted in 2012 you can water your garden at any time of the day although permanent rules still apply and can be viewed here: DWELP.vic.gov.au. The most important of these is that all hoses must be fitted with a trigger nozzle and be leak-free. Efficient irrigation or garden sprinkler systems save you time and can make a big difference to the health of your garden but they need planning and design.
At Van Leewen Green we use a rigorous plant selection process to create planting zones with different watering needs; some of these have zero irrigation requirements while other zones, such as vegetable gardens, may need watering every day in a heatwave, for example. With good plant selection and design even the no-irrigation zones can still look lush or luxuriant. Nevertheless irrigation systems are an efficient, easy and cost effective way to ensure your garden thrives because most plants still look better with some supplementary watering in summer. A well designed irrigation system delivers the right amount of water to each area at set intervals. Many people make the mistake of over watering, many by as much as 30-40 per cent. This can be a disaster for some species not to mention the environment! Drafting an irrigation plan is a good idea, both for the environment and for your finances. In our core service areas of St Kilda, Camberwell, Hawthorn, Malvern, Armadale and Toorak the soils are mostly free draining sandy loams that don’t retain soil moisture in summer. This can be limiting for plant growth and so some level of irrigation is highly recommended.
Types of Irrigation Systems – Drippers and Sprayers
Drippers as the name suggests, slowly drip water at ground level close to the roots of plants either in-ground or under mulch. Traditionally used for agriculture, drip systems have become popular in residential gardens since the last drought because they’re far more water efficient than traditional sprinklers, targeting the roots where water is most needed.
Sprayers throw water droplets into the air anywhere from a few centimetres to many metres, and are ideal for lawns and ground cover. The droplet sizes range from very fine (misters) to quite large (sprinklers). Water is usually sprayed in the pattern of a circle - either quarter, half or full circle.
Which System is Best for my Garden?
With so many different plant species needing varying amounts of water, we recommend getting a professional consultation before choosing which system to install in your garden. At Van Leeuwen Green we can analyse your garden and your specific plant species, to calculate precise water requirements and recommend the most ideal installation set up for your needs
Even if you want to create your own system an initial consultation can ensure you’re on the right track with your project.
Pros and Cons of Drippers and Sprayers
Getting Started – Tips for Planning and Installing Your Garden Irrigation System in Melbourne
As for the plants in your garden, a good irrigation system needs a plan and this means sketching or drawing it on paper. This can be basic but you do need to think though the types of species and zones you have in your garden before choosing which system is going to work for you.
- Step 1: Sketch your garden using grid paper (1 square = 1 metre in your garden). Divide your garden into zones. For example, you might have four zones: lawn, veggie patch, drought tolerant flowering perennial border, mixed shrubs and trees. Measure the zones and plot them on the paper. Note any obstacles, hard surfaces, or other important features.
- Step 2: Determine the watering requirements of each zone based on careful plant selection (this is where Van Leeuwen Green can provide detailed recommendations).
- Step 3: Assign a drip or spray system to each zone. Some people like to mix it up, and use drip systems for garden beds and a traditional pop up sprinkler for the lawn (depending on current water restrictions).
- Step 4: Draw the pipe lines of the drip system, research appropriate spacing and layout.
- Step 5: Test your water pressure. It’s important to test your water pressure to determine how many zones you will be able to connect to one tap.
- Step 6: Buy and install your system! Having a plan will make it much easier to purchase the items you need for your compete irrigation system. There are a wide variety of products on the market from basic starter kits to high tech weather analysis devices that adjust water emissions based on the changing weather.
Finding the right products can be a time consuming and complex process but its’s worth getting it right. Of course, Van Leeuwen Green can design and implement a full irrigation/sprinkler system for your garden at any time of the year. Plus we can help with sprinkler system maintenance for an existing irrigation system in Melbourne. We service Melbourne's inner eastern suburbs including St Kilda, Camberwell, Hawthorn, Malvern, Toorak and more.
For professional advice or help with get in touch today.
Happy Christmas and happy summer gardening from everyone at Van Leeuwen Green!