By Janine Soriano, Master of Science in Forestry, government environment researcher
All plants need water to survive – plant cells are around 90% water. Without it, plants cannot perform photosynthesis and other normal physiological functions which can lead to diseases and even death. Whether it is a cold-season or warm-season species, grasses require adequate moisture for vigorous growth. Regular watering ensures moisture equilibrium as plants tend to undergo rapid evapotranspiration during hot afternoons. To keep your lawn lush and healthy, all you need is an efficient sprinkler system. The irrigation system needs to have a water source, pipeline, head, and risers.
Although various kinds of sprinklers are available in the market today, there are two basic types – portable and automatic systems. The portable type is popular for homes with small to medium-sized lawns. The sprinkler head is attached to a hose that draws water out of a faucet. To cover the whole lawn, the equipment must be manually placed in strategic locations so that every square inch of turf gets wet. Varying the water pressure and droplet size is also done manually. Automatic types on the other hand are installed permanently under the turf, designed specifically to cover large lawns for industrial and commercial purposes. The good thing about in-ground sprinklers is that you can customize water output at timed intervals. Installing it with moisture meters can help save water during rainy months.
Before you set everything up you need to choose the right sprinkler head for your lawn, which are differentiated by their water discharge mechanisms. The spray type distributes water across the lawn in a fixed position. It sprays water up to 15 feet and therefore will only be effective on small turf size. The rotor type on the other hand spins from its axis and covers more than 15 feet and is more suitable for uneven turf with compacted soil. Additionally, a new type called the rotator nozzle has tiny rotors which produce a finer mist but is also strong enough to reach up to 35 feet in distance. Beware that mixing different types of heads in an area can leave a puddle unless they have alternating timers. You may also need to purchase a sprinkler riser from hardware stores, which are fittings for connecting pipes, nipples and heads. They range from simple pipe nipples to swinging joint types and flexible risers which can be bent at different angles.
New sprinklers usually operate smoothly in the first few years of usage. After prolonged use, sprinklers can run into problems but these can be fixed easily without changing the entire irrigation system. If water output is low, cleaning will remove any clogs from the nozzles. In-ground systems sometimes get tilted during mowing. If this happens, adjust then secure the head to the desired angle by using the surrounding soil as support.
Thatch accumulation prevents irrigation over longer distances. Elevating the sprinkler heads will solve this problem. One method is to unearth a six-inch radius of the surrounding soil. Upon removing the dirt, take the head off the poly pipe. Next, attach a coupling to the nipple, making sure that they have the same dimensions to prevent any leaks. Screw the sprinkler head back in and raise it from the surface. Refill the scraped hole with dirt.
If you don’t want to do any digging and messing with underground pipes, you can try to unscrew the head by removing the cap and gripping it from the inside with a flat piece of metal or strong plastic with a width that’s the same as the internal diameter of the head body. It should catch/hold onto the internal ribs that run along it and you should be able to unscrew it by rotating it. Fit in the pipe riser into the threads so that the intended height is achieved. Instead of a metal one, it is advised to use a PVC nipple so that the pipeline will not break if mowing accidents occur.