A drip irrigation system is a great option for customers that either do not have a traditional sprinkler system or they do not have a dedicated zone on their sprinkler system for just the trees and shrubs. Drip irrigation systems operate in a similar way to that of a traditional sprinkler system with bubblers by precisely controlling the flow and placement of water so that it goes exactly where it is needed which eliminates waste water. Drip systems supply water at a very slow rate and this allows many more trees and shrubs to be connected to one zone; as opposed to a bubbler system which has faster flow rates and ultimately limits the number of trees that can be connected on one zone. Another advantage of bubblers is that they are very easy to install since all the pipe can be run above ground. Drip irrigation systems have the flexibility to either connect to existing PVC pipe of a traditional sprinkler system or convert risers on a traditional sprinkler system to drip irrigation or connect to a faucet.
If you decide to go with a drip irrigation system, then we would recommend checking into the kits offered by RainBird . A basic setup starts at a faucet where a connection kit is installed and then distribution tubing can be connected and run throughout the landscaping. Once the distribution tubing is installed then micro bubblers can be installed into the distribution tubing and then placed onto the rootball of each tree.
If you would like keep the automation of your current sprinkler system then another way to utilize a drip irrigation system would be to convert all of the spray heads or risers on a particular zone to drip irrigation lines which Rain Bird sells a conversion kit for.
For trees of different sizes installed on the same drip line then 1 or more micro bubblers can be installed on each tree. The flow rate out of each micro bubbler can also be adjusted which can release up to 13 gallons per hour.
We recommend that customers target a flow rate of .75 gallons per minute or slower. A flow rate of .75 gallons per minute should take approximately 80 seconds to fill up a 1 gallon container. We like to target slower flow rates like this to ensure that there is no run off. Normally when customers start to exceed 1 gallon per minute water tends to run off the rootball and any water that is running off the rootball doesn’t count. If there is any run off, then a slower flow rate should be targeted until the run off is eliminated. Our flow rate calculator can be used to verify that the tree(s) are being watered for the correct number of minutes and that the correct number of gallons are being applied each watering.
For added convenience electronic garden hose watering timers can be installed which allows customers to automate the watering by programming the watering frequency, watering run times and watering start times. Normally the timers are installed right at the faucet and for customers that are concerned that their faucet has been used for the sole purpose of watering the trees, then a splitter can be installed right at the faucet and a timer can then be installed on one side of the splitter.
This will allow you to have a dedicated hose for the trees and a free hose attachment for other purposes. There are lots of different types of water timers on the market to choose from but a simple and affordable one is from RainBird (Model #1ZEHTMR).
Part 1: How to Water Landscaped Areas
Part 2: How to Install a Spot Watering System
Part 3: Selecting Spot Watering Devices