One of the most important aspects of growing a successful garden or lawn is proper irrigation. Irrigating by using a watering can is often time-consuming. Sprinklers are often time-efficient and can be as simple as a sprinkler head attached to a garden hose, or to a complex network of pop-up sprinkler heads.
For a sprinkler irrigation system to be effective, it requires the correct design. Proper spacing is one of the most important aspects. According to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, sprinkler heads should be spaced according to their watering radius. Some sprinklers are designed for small spaces, covering only 15 feet, while others, such as rotary sprinkler heads, cover an area from 20 to 50 feet. It is important to inspect the sprinkler heads' coverage before installation.
Sprinkler Water Distribution
The pattern of the water distribution from a sprinkler, notes the University of Florida Extension, is either a semi or full circle. Some manufacturers design sprinkler heads that are adjustable to be a full circle. Sprinklers, however, are often preset to a pattern, such as a 90-degree quarter turn or a 180-degree half turn.
The water pressure closest to the sprinkler head is greater than the water being distributed at the far end of the sprinkler distribution radius. This means that plants or grasses far away from that sprinkler head are not receiving as much water as those that are closest. Sprinklers require spacing according to this distribution so that they overlap slightly.
Application rate involves how much water is being distributed per hour to the plants if the sprinkler system is left running. This rate measures in inches per hour. When the rate of the sprinkler is greater than the absorptive rate of the soil, water will flood or run off. Rotary sprinklers, according to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, have an application rate of 1/4 to 1/2 an inch per hour, which rarely causes any issues, while spray heads pour 1 to 2 inches per hour, which causes runoff on clay soils. Determine the soil quality in your garden or lawn before purchasing spray heads.
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, the best time to water is between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. With no sun in the sky, less water is lost due to evaporation. Because of the nature of sprinkler systems, water gets on the foliage of the plant. When you apply water during the heat of the day, water left on the plant leaves will burn away, often causing damage to foliage, flowers or grass. Watering in the evening is not recommended, as plants stay wet for long periods of time, causing root stress and damage.