Components of Sprinkler Systems
Sprinkler heads. Different
types of heads are designed for different parts of the yard. Spray
heads apply a continuous stream of water and have a maximum spray
radius of 15 feet or less; they are strategically placed in flowerbeds
and around the yard. Rotary heads, designed for large, open spaces,
spray water about two to three times as far as the typical spray head.
They rotate the stream of water in an arc or complete circle. Both
rotary and spray heads are designed to pop up for watering and descend
below the surface after watering is complete; this prevents damage from
people and mowers.
Installing the wrong head type in the wrong place or installing the
heads too far apart reduces system efficiency and performance.
Unfortunately, these practices also reduce the cost and work associated
with installing the system. Some less-reputable contractors routinely
install cheaper systems with too few sprinkler heads and/or the wrong
type of sprinkler heads. When comparing two sprinkler system proposals,
make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
Zones. A sprinkler system
zone is a portion of the overall system that can be turned on and off
independently from the rest of the system. Most systems are made up of
multiple zones for two primary reasons. The first is water pressure.
The amount and pressure of the water entering the home from the street
main limit the amount and pressure of water a sprinkler system can
apply to the yard. If all zones of the system were turned on at the
same time, there would probably not be enough water and pressure to run
the system correctly. Watering a portion of the yard at a time
eliminates this problem. The second reason for using zones is to vary
the amount of water applied to different areas. To keep the yard
looking its best and limit wasted water, it is very important to
deliver the right amount of water to the right place. By designing the
zones around the yard’s landscaping, one can adjust the amount of water
supplied to different components. For example, the rotary heads in the
front yard can be one zone, while the spray heads for the bushes can be
Timers. The timer or
controller is the brain of the sprinkler system. Most modern timers
turn the water on and off in different zones, according to the time of
day and day of the week. Additionally, most timers allow the homeowner
to control how much water is applied to each zone. By properly
programming the timer so that no area of the yard is over- or
underwatered, the homeowner can maintain the beauty of the landscape
while minimizing the water cost. Unfortunately, many homeowners never
take the time to fully understand their sprinkler system and timer and
end up wasting water.
The best time to water your lawn is between 4 and 6 AM. Because a
wet lawn is more susceptible to disease, you should take care to limit
the lawn’s wet period. The wet period begins when dew first forms on
the lawn and ends when the lawn is dry. Watering in the evening before
dew forms extends the wet period and encourages disease. Because of
rapid evaporation and wind, watering the lawn in the middle of the day
is not effective.
The metro-Atlanta area is subject to watering restrictions due to
drought conditions. In many areas, residential outdoor water use is
prohibited, and in others, it is limited to certain times of day.
However, restrictions are local and subject to change on a regular
basis. Contact your local water supplier for the most recent
Rain sensors. Rain sensors
conserve water by preventing system operation during or following a
heavy rain, when the ground is saturated and needs no additional
irrigation. These sensors will also extend the life of the system by
avoiding unnecessary use. Georgia state law requires that all new
residential sprinkler systems in metro Atlanta have a rain sensor.