Irrigation is usally essential after bedding in a new garden. It is the first years of any plants life that are cruciual to it taking hold. Later with their roots deeper they can survive longer periods without rain.
At it simplest Irrigation means hand watering. Sadly most of us do not have the time or inclination to do it. If you actually love plants though its a no-brainer.
So how much is automatic watering going to cost?
Anyone can go to the garden centre and pick up an irrigation kit which might cost a couple of hundred pounds. You might find it to be a absorbing pastime: installing an irrigation system is not much different to setting up a miniature railway set, complete with stations, junctions and signal boxes.
So, great fun. Intelligently installed, it should perform the miracle of watering your plants for many years to come, saving much labour. Should it rain, a rainsensor can shut it all down – so nature still weighs in with what she has to offer. Larger gardens will need many computer-controlled circuits, running in a sequence to make full use of the water pressure available. Then there are ecological systems like rain-harvesting, meaning you trap and keep rainwater which can then be pumped back in the garden later. This might well rack up your green credentials especially if it puts you back in the hand-watering bracket when the water runs out in the summer. You will need a whopping tank underground and a pump for it to work and with an irrigation box that is a major project.
In terms of reliability, a professional irrigation system using mains water is still the best bet to preserve any investment in planting and make possible those gorgeous summer bedding displays.
Poppy is always involved with the irrigation when she knows the garden well and her knowledge has an enormous impact on every irrigation system I design. because in many cases it is done by rote by technicians who have no idea of plants and that can easily end up losing both water and money down the drain.
heart of the train set – a typical solenoid valve box
Here is a single-solenoid watercomputer. But what you see at the tap is only a fraction of the underground network of pipes sprinklers and drippers to serve all the plants.
Unlike nearly all other irrigation companies, I work closely with a horticulturalist on every install to ensure the correct balance of watering throughout a garden.
Gerry Feeny undertakes irrigation for Green Spirit Gardens and he can be reached through the contact page.
Couldn’t resist posting this American video on the delights of irrigation!