KNOW WHERE YOU STAND
Do I really need an irrigation system?
If your time poor over Summer and you love your garden it's likely
you'll answer with YES. If so, some points in the following will be worth
a read. The truth is an automated irrigation system is a luxury item, it's
not a necessity. Whether you decide to go ahead with an installation
may depend on your priorities, your soil profile and your available
time especially over the Summer months. Proper hand watering can
take a long time, time which over the Summer months you might not
have? As a highly experienced irrigation professional I can tell you
that many of the poorly designed and installed systems that I come
across during service calls have unfortunately been a complete waste
of time and money. They're very common, and often a direct result of
landscapers and gardeners taking on a larger scope of works than
they are adequately qualified to carry out.
Landscapers today are virtually outdoor builders and their scope of works has grown extensively. This, in my opinion makes them vulnerable to the 'Jack of all trades, master of none' title. It's not just an entry level problem either. I have encountered many high end, high impact landscapes with seriously low standard irrigation systems, which in reality only becomes a problem during the warmer months, or in areas where the soil profile or condition requires more frequent even watering. Due to the complexities of proper irrigation design and installation, many of these below par systems can be very expensive to rectify properly and in some cases it's more cost effective to start again! However, the cost of a new professional system has now become higher again due to the established nature of the site and the limitations which the site may now pose.
The reasons why these systems have been a waste of money is simple:
1)Poor design (often NO design!) equals inefficiency as a direct result of uneven water application rates over the garden and/or lawn areas. People
often try to compensate for this by running the systems longer than should be required resulting in too much water for some areas and often still not
enough water in other areas.
2)Inferior products are used because they are cheap but they cost you more in the long run, failing at the worst possible time.
3)These sub par systems are generally installed with no documentation. A professional system should be supplied with a scale 'As Constructed'
drawing for your records. This documentation is a MUST and is capable of saving you money in the future if alterations or service are required.
4)A quality design and installation should easily last a lifetime! Again, the sub standard system is far more likely to incur ongoing service costs.
5)What about pumps and tanks? I see many systems that are always running pumps, whether they are using mains water or rain water! Often these
systems have tanks that are too small, over flowing all winter and empty all summer. Many of them are underground tanks also that have cost a lot to
install. So the point is, yes, it's highly recommended to catch rain water but make sure your system is designed properly making it a sustainable and
economically worthwhile excercise. Otherwise you might just be wasting your money!
There are more reasons but essentially it comes down to that fact that poor systems will cost you more in the long run. The key is to get it designed and
installed properly. 'Get it right from the start, Water Right, Water Smart'. So, when you ask yourself, do you really need a system, consider some
of the above. Also consider that plants need more than just water, they need to be fed! They also can benefit from a helping hand when it comes to
pests and disease. A qualified horticulturalist might be worth their weight in gold!
Personally for myself an irrigation system is essential as I'm too busy over the Summer months to be hand watering. In saying that my system is only
used during those months and because I'm using Hunter's Hydrawise it won't come on at all unless the temperature exceeds my setting of 25 degrees.