Drip Irrigation in New Mexico
If you live in New Mexico and have attempted to care for your yard on your own, drip irrigation has surely crossed your mind. Drip irrigation systems are easy to install, great for saving water, and keep you from spending hours with a hose in your hand attempting to keep your garden and landscaping healthy.
Installing a drip irrigation system seems simple to the naked eye, and for the most part, it is. However, there are a few elements that are necessary during setup to ensure that your system is successful, and will require little maintenance in the future.
Draw Up an Irrigation Plan
Planning your drip system is an essential step in the installation process. This will help you determine how many feet of tubing you will need, how many emitters you need, and what type of emitters you need. Having your plan drawn out can also help your drip irrigation distributor help you with equipment decisions while you are in the store. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when planning your drip irrigation system.
Be Aware of Elevation Change
Elevation change in your system plan can influence the type of equipment you need. As the water travels throughout your distribution line, changes in elevation will affect the water pressure towards the end of the system. Pressure compensating emitters (PC emitters) distribute water at equal pressure throughout the whole system regardless of elevation changes. PC emitters are perfect if you are trying to water hanging plants, or if you are trying to use a single system to water ground level and elevated planters.
If you are watering a flat area, it will be easier to control the pressure in the system for the entire length of your tubing. In this case, simple emitters will do the trick just fine.
What Types of Vegetation are you Watering?
A variety of plants, shrubs, and trees may require you to purchase different types of emitters or even re-think your system layout. Small plants & shrubs typically require 1-2 emitters, placed within 6-12 inches of the plant. You can achieve this simply by running your mainline through the center of your planting area and connecting ¼ inch tubing that runs to each plant.
Larger trees can require 3-6 emitters. In order to provide water to the entire root system, you will want to place the emitters 4 feet away from the base of the tree. This can be done by placing emitters in a circle around the tree. Keep in mind, this can add extra length to the amount of tubing you will need. For plants that require more water, there are special emitters that can be added. Low volume sprayers and micro-sprinklers are great options for large plants, or areas that need additional water coverage.
You Will Need Additional Equipment
The city of Santa Fe requires that all drip irrigation systems be equipped with a vacuum breaker. Vacuum breakers prevent potentially dirty water from running back into the main water system for your house.
Another piece of necessary equipment is a pressure regulator. Most drip irrigation systems operate optimally at 30 psi. This is much lower than the water pressure that is typically running through your home. While some may try to save money by not installing a pressure regulator, they can help keep your drip irrigation system running healthier and last longer.
While not a necessary item, those looking to save time will want to install a timer. These can ensure that you are watering your yard at regular intervals, ultimately saving you water and time by completely automating your system.
All of these components are easy to install. Many connectors are provided to attach the three together, and ultimately attach directly to the faucet at the beginning of your system. These items can be damaged by freezing temperatures, so it is best to disconnect them and bring them indoors during the winter.
What Type of Soil Do You Have?
Soil types can influence the number of emitters that are necessary to provide the proper amount of water to your plants. Sandy soil will typically drain quickly. This is great for penetrating the roots of your plants, but it will also reduce the amount of area that is being watered. Clay-type soils drain more slowly and have a tendency to pool around a plant, increasing the area that is watered. Make sure to test the soil in your yard before you start drawing up your plans so you know how many emitters you will need.
For those looking to conserve water, most drip irrigation systems are compatible with our water catchment barrels. These barrels can be installed to catch the water that flows off of your roof and other areas around your home. These are great for the Santa Fe area, where we all know that saving water is a priority.
The Firebird has been serving the Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico communities since 1977. We specialize in helping you thrive with the elements. If you are considering a new drip irrigation system, our specialists would be happy to answer your questions and help you select the best equipment for your needs. Stop by to see our new showroom and tour our demonstration garden in front of the store. This garden showcases the use of drip irrigation for watering trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables.