Watering your garden
Professional quality garden watering systems will ensure your garden looks its best throughout the summer. In addition, new planting will thrive and establish itself much more quickly. There are three main areas to consider when planning your garden watering system: lawn watering, border watering and watering baskets and tubs. The other important consideration is budget – for a medium sized domestic garden the cost of an irrigation system can vary between less than £100 for a simple hanging basket watering system to £2,500 – £3,500 for a fully automated bespoke garden watering system.
In this article we will explore the best options for watering your garden. We will also consider the importance of using professional quality irrigation equipment.
Watering garden borders
The best garden watering system for borders is drip irrigation line, as this is the most water efficient and ensures very even watering, but the other option is border watering sprinklers. These have the advantage that there is something to see when operating but can suffer more from dry spots as shrubs may get in the way of planting further back.
Drip watering systems consist of a dripline that is laid in a grid fashion over the border. Built into the pipe is a professional pressure compensated dripper to ensure even output down the whole pipe; as the dripper is inside the pipe there is only a tiny hole visible and nothing to catch or snag when the pipe is being laid. Normally the pipes run the whole length of the border and are spaced 0.5m apart across the width of the bed. Ideally the irrigation wants to be installed when the bed is newly planted, but the system can be added later. The pipes are noticeable when first installed on a new bed but once the plants have grown up the pipes are hidden. Sometimes a bark mulch can be added to hide the pipes. As the water slowly drips from the pipes the system is very efficient, with almost no water lost to evaporation. These systems can often be operated even if there is a hosepipe ban.
Another border watering option is a border sprinkler system. These can either take the form of small sprinklers run down the centre of the border, or pop-up sprinklers fitted at the front of the border that rise up out of the ground and spray over the plants – this works really well with borders that have low planting at the front.
Border sprinklers that run down the entre of the bed are a quick method of adding watering to an existing bed, but do suffer from shadowing if there are a number of large shrubs in the border. They will also throw water beyond the edges of the bed, which may be an issue.
Keeping a lawn lush and green enhances the whole garden and also ensures the grass can cope with heavier traffic. For a permanent system, pipework is laid under the lawns and pop-up sprinklers are fitted which rise out of the grass when watering takes place. This makes a virtually invisible watering system. However, these systems are expensive as generally the sprinklers will need to be operated from a pumped system to ensure they have enough pressure to operate and to comply with the Water Regulations. Smaller DIY lawn watering packages are available but for larger systems the sprinklers need to be laid out of a CAD system to ensure there are no gaps in the sprinkler arcs.
With lawn watering systems for the garden, it is important to use professional quality sprinklers – cheap sprinklers have a tendency not to retract back into the lawn, causing damage to the sprinkler and also lawn mower blades.
For new turf or seeded garden lawns, temporary lawn watering systems are available that use sprinklers and hose to ensure the grass is watered.
Watering tubs and hanging baskets
Baskets and tubs can be very time consuming to water and dry out very quickly. Old fashioned dripper systems use large pipes to supply the water, which are very unsightly.
Modern dripper systems that use pressure compensated drippers allow very small pipe to be used to link the baskets and tubs together – in fact the watering pipe is no thicker than a pencil and can easily be bent around corners and over doors and windows.
On single storey buildings the main pipe can be run under the eaves, making it virtually invisible.
The patio tub and hanging basket system is simple to install, just use a pair of scissors to cut the supply pipe where ever a dripper is needed. A short pipe then brings the water into the planter or basket, so watering is taken directly to the plants.
Watering can either be done manually with a simple turn of the tap, or a battery operated tap timer can be added. As the compost volume of pots and baskets is small, a little and often approach is best with 3 or 4 waterings per day in the summer.
Control equipment for Garden Watering
A wide range of battery and mains powered controllers are available to operate the garden watering system. For a bespoke garden irrigation system, the controller would also be linked to a pump and tank unit to give a guaranteed pressure in the garden watering system.
Mains operated controllers have the ability to operate a large number of solenoid valves, allowing the garden to be divided up into zones. These controllers can also be connected to the wi-fi network allowing control and monitoring from anywhere in the world. Rain sensors can be added to ensure watering does not take place when it is wet. The most sophisticated controllers can also access predictive weather forecasts to increase or decrease the watering depending in the temperature and likely rainfall.
If this is all too sophisticated, battery operated controllers have come a long way. Simple tap timers can be programmed to water up to 4 times each day, allowing a little and often approach to watering that is very beneficial to baskets and tubs. Bluetooth functionality allows programming to be completed on a phone.
Waterproof multi-zone controllers are also available which can be fitted into valve boxes located in the lawn or borders. This make installation easier as control cables do not need to be laid underground to each valve box.
Professional quality Garden Watering equipment
For professional quality results it is important to use professional quality equipment. I might cost a little more, but it has been designed with durability and reliability in mind. Access Irrigation source equipment from around the world and we use the equipment ourselves on large and prestigious irrigation systems.
Garden Watering Installation
Our kits come with comprehensive instructions and are designed for DIY installation into the garden. The kits are also modular, so that you can start small and build up a system. You can initially just water a couple of borders, taking out the hose and connecting it each time you want to water. Later you can add underground supply pipes and automatic control to create a fully automated system which will water when you are away.
Our bespoke garden watering systems are designed to be installed by a competent DIYer or a landscaper, the come with layout plans and an instruction booklet. For bespoke systems it make sense to install these when the garden is being landscaped, so have a chat to your landscaper about installation.
The next steps planning you Garden Watering System
If you are in the market for a bespoke irrigation system, send us a scaled or dimensioned plan of the garden for us to provide you with a quotation. We will need to know where the compact pump and tank will be located, mains water and power will need to be taken to this point.
For smaller kits, each kit has instructions for installation and also details of areas to be covered. If you want to water several areas, we can help advise on linking kits and controllers.