Irrigation Systems: Do You Need One? This Will Help You Decide!

The winter is a perfect time for planning for the summer.  This is the time we often plan our summer vacations, our kids’ summer camps or any outdoor renovations we might be considering. Now is also a good time to consider an irrigation system… especially if you are as tired as I am with moving the hose around the yard.

Not only does having an automatic sprinkler system save us time, I think it helps to add to the aesthetics and property value of our homes.  Imagine having your lawn and garden looking green and healthy all year, even while you’re on vacation or at the cottage.  Saving money is important to us all and since automatic irrigation systems are set on a precise schedule, they can help save money on the water bill each month. Forgetting to turn a hose off after watering plants can ruin an area of the garden or lawn or walkway and increase the water bill. Another thing to remember is that different parts of our yard require different amounts of water (i.e. lawn vs. new garden vs. established garden).  The technology available in irrigation systems is so advanced that it can detect the amount of water needed for a particular area of the property.


Here are some things to consider:

There are 2 main types of irrigation, Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation.

1. Drip irrigation is where the water is delivered to the plants at the root. That makes it the most water-efficient method of irrigation but also the most expensive. It could be a good solution for a small garden.

2. Sprinkler irrigation or overhead irrigation is where water is delivered throughout the lawn and garden area by use of high pressured sprinklers designed to simulate rainfall.


Here are some frequently asked questions about irrigation:

Q) Will a system use more water than I am currently using?

A) No.  In fact, it actually will conserve water while doing a more thorough job of watering.  You’ll never have to worry about runoff from over-watering or wasting water when you forget to turn off the hose.  And the systems will come with a rain sensor, your system will know when it’s raining and simply shut off itself when water is not needed.


Q) We generally get an average of 70 mm of rainfall a month from May to September.  Do we really need a sprinkler system with that much rain?

A) If it rained at your house every three days, the same exact amount each time, you probably wouldn’t need a sprinkler system.  But nature doesn’t work that way and the only way to ensure healthy, lush growth is to make certain your lawn and plants receive a regularly timed, evenly measured amount of water.  In the dry season when there is little to no rain, your yard can suffer damage after just a few days without water.


Q) Are there different types of systems from which to choose?

A) Every system will be custom tailored to meet individual needs.  A typical system is comprised of a controller (which functions as the brains of the system), valves (which open and close to release and stop the flow of water to underground pipes), and sprinklers (which actually distribute the water to a given area). The system design and installation are critical factors that will affect your system’s performance and longevity.


Q) Can I install one myself?

A) There are many DIY Irrigation kits for sale. Home Depot and Lee Valley carry a few and there seems to be lots of available information on the internet regarding designing and installing an irrigation system.  This site had the most concise info and best pictures that I could find:

irrigation system
Sample irrigation design.

There is a lot to consider if installing yourself.  It might be best to try a small area instead of a whole yard. Remember that the key reasons for installing an irrigation system are the water and time saving features and if it is installed improperly it could end up taking up a lot of time and money to work it out.

It might be worth getting a quote on a system from a reputable company and making your decisions from there. As with all contractors, get referrals from previous clients. Confirm how long installation will take and what fees are associated with opening the system in spring and closing the system in the fall.

If you have any questions let me know and I will do my best to get you the answers.



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