Sprinkler System Components
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 flower beds 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 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, topography, and the amount of sunlight an area receives,
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 another.
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.
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.