WA's wastewater, Rainwater & Irrigation Professionals
Greywater Reuse Systems
Unit 1 / 18 Wandeara Crescent | Mundaring WA 6073

Irrigation Systems

Water usage in gardens accounts for around 35% of domestic water consumption. As the effects of climate change start to take effect, it makes sense to reassess our water usage in the garden. Standard reticulation is far from efficient. Evaporation loss from wind and the sun can be as much as 60%. Water restrictions mean that you can only water 2 days a week from scheme water.

We can still enjoy lush gardens; it just involves common sense, adequate soil conditions and suitable reticulation equipment.

New technology in reticulation involves being able to direct the water straight to the root zone of the plants, reducing wastage to areas that don’t require water. Drip emitters can be place along a pipe at the required spacing for the existing plants. Drippers can come in a range of flow rates, so that mixed plantings can be matched to their water requirements.

Inline drip pipe can also be used to irrigate a garden or lawn. The pipe is laid down in either a grid pattern across the garden, or it can be weaved around the garden, only covering the essential root zones of the plants. Mulch is spread across the garden to a depth of 100mm, reducing water loss by evaporation from wind and sunshine to almost nothing. This also reduces competition and wastage to weeds as well, making maintenance in the garden less time consuming.

Lawns

By using a root prevention chemical in the watering system, or drip pipe that is wrapped in geo-textile fabric, subsurface lawn irrigation can be set up using dripper tube as well. These two methods mean that the drip emitters in the pipe are protected from roots growing into the outlet, causing blockages. Drip tube is available in a number of sizes. 5mm tube can be used in small areas and raised garden beds. 13mm and 16mm tube is used over larger areas and under lawns, as it allows greater pipe run lengths. Drip outlet sizes are rated at 1.9l/hr and 3l/hr for clean water sources.

For bore water and grey water recycling, outlets are rated at 8l/hr. The larger outlet allows for particles in dirty water to pass through. In all cases, filters are recommended. Also recommended are line flushing valves and vacuum release valves. The vacuum release valves allow air into the system, preventing sand or organic matter being sucked into the drip outlet when the water is turned off. Line flushing valves allow a certain amount of water to flow out of the end of the pipe when the water is first turned on, allowing any build up of residues to be removed from the pipe.

Soil type will affect the way the pipe work is set out. In clay soils, you can have a larger space between the drip lines, as the water tends to spread through the upper soil layers more than it soaks down. In sandy soils, the water will soak down quicker than it spreads, so drippers will need to be placed closer together. The inline drip tube comes with an array of different spacings. 30cm spacing is the most common. 5mm drip tube can be spaced at 15cm, 30cm and 50cm. The larger pipe sizes can be spaced up to 1m.

At Water Installations Pty Ltd, we supply a range of options for water wise reticulation. Water Installations also have accredited water wise installers. Other options for water wise reticulation include recycling the grey water from your laundry, shower and bath.

Water Installations can also show you a number of systems that have health department approval for the use of grey water in WA.

 

Waterwise Irrigation

As we head towards summer everyone starts thinking about water and gardens. Now is the time to check the status of your irrigation, make those necessary repairs and alterations, and maybe even consider becoming a waterwise gardener. A waterwise garden can be achieved by either installing an efficient watering system or replacing lawn and other water-hungry exotics with waterwise plants, or both. The benefits of being waterwise – save money, save water, reduce work to maintain and save the environment.

Landscape-sensible design will enable reduce fertiliser use, reduce runoff and thus soil loss. Coupled with an appropriate use of mulch, organic compost, soil amendments. Designing your home's irrigation system to be waterwise would not only conserve water but also save you money on your water bills. Most people who have automatic systems rely on sprinklers and sprays. The trend these days is for dripline.

Contemporary spray and sprinkler irrigation systems are extremely wasteful (water, energy, labour, chemicals), not very environmentally-friendly, increase risk of plantfungal diseases, and are inflexible and not very suited to complex gardens layouts

Why use Drip Irrigation?

I suppose the more basic question to be addressed is “why do we need to change?” Besides the increasing cost of water and power, depletion of our water resources and pollution of our water bodies, there are pressing demands for more efficient systems and a need safer ways of re-using our greywater. Drippers are by far the most efficient way to water plants. Individual drippers typically come in 2, 4 and 8 L capacity per hour, while dripline drippers vary from 1.6 to 10 L/hour. Furthermore, technology is such that drip irrigation can be pressure-compensated, self-flushing, anti-siphoning and have a shut-off mechanism.

Benefits and Limitations of Dripper Irrigation

With any type of irrigation system there are pros and cons. In this case the pros certainly outweigh the cons. The benefits of drip irrigation include:

  • Efficient water use (uniform, good recovery)
  • Low application rate (reduced risk of runoff)
  • Ideal for odd shapes & narrow strips
  • Improved disease control
  • Effluent (eg greywater) reuse
  • Reduces weed growth
  • Allow for 24 hour operation possible
  • Reduces exposure to vandalism
  • Reduced injury risk
  • More energy-efficient
  • Ability to better use Fertigation

The other hand, drip irrigation does have some drawbacks, which include:

  • Requires capillary action of water to work
  • More technical maintenance required
  • May need replacing after 3-5 years if drippers blocked
  • Does not tolerate short cuts
  • Establishment of lawn may require temporary overhead watering

The basic rules of irrigation

  • Water in early evening or night, reducing loss by evaporation. About 60% of water is lost if you use fine sprays during the heat of the day – the water either never touches the soil or quickly evaporates as it does.
  • Water the roots. How many times have you seen someone watering plant leaves. Leaves do not absorb water this way – it only enters the plant via root uptake. 
  • Turn irrigation off during the winter months. Generally, irrigation can be turned on from about October through to April, and then it should be controlled so that if rain events do occur the irrigation system is not activated.
  • Don’t water paths and driveways. Overspray is a complete waste of precious water. Make sure your system is set up to deliver the right amount of water, at the right time to the right place.
  • If you must use sprinklers buy ones that produce large droplets to minimise wind drift. Use micro-irrigation for garden beds and individual drippers on native plants.
  • Don’t overwater. Every soil type only holds a certain amount of water, so regulate the volume you add. Even a simple and inexpensive tap timer on manually operated sprinkler systems helps. Consider hand watering, which can be both relaxing and efficient, especially if you have a trigger nozzle which only allows water to leave the hose when it is pressed.

Overwatering can often occur if the water pressure is high. You can install a pressure-reducing valve to keep the water pressure a slow as possible to reduce water wastage. Installing a rain sensor will also prevent overwatering. These devices monitor or respond to soil moisture and prevent the controller from switching the irrigation on.

Rain sensors vary in price, but a good one is less than $50, while a soil moisture sensor is about $100. On average, approximately 15 kilolitres a year can be saved in homes by replacing inefficient showerheads, installing tap flow control devices and fixing leaks while a further 20 kilolitres a year could be saved through a retrofit of inefficient toilet suites.

Approximately 100 kilolitres a year can be saved by replacing 100m2 of well maintained turf with paving or synthetic grass, or 50 kilolitres a year by replacing this area with a Waterwise garden. Additional financial savings can be realised by households due to the lower maintenance requirements of paving, synthetic grass and Waterwise gardens. In this initiative, guidelines would be established to determine what would qualify as turf and replacement materials and an incentive would be paid to customers who complied with these guidelines.

How to make your garden and home waterwise

Add plenty of organic matter such as compost and manure to the soil to improve water retention, plant health and soil structure. This is one of the most important steps in making your garden drought-tolerant. Remember, the healthier your plants are, the more likely they are to withstand drought conditions. Install a rainwater tank. It is recommended that water from these tanks be used for gardens only. These tanks are expensive and owners are responsible for maintenance. Your local water company will be able to provide you with information on whether a rainwater tank would be efficient in your area.

Recycle water on your garden from your shower or washing machine. It is legal (under certain conditions) to recycle this water, known as greywater, on your garden, but you must have approval from your local water company and a licensed plumber must connect your system to your plumbing. Remove weeds regularly from garden beds because weeds compete with other plants for water. Before planting a new garden bed, condition clay soils with powdered or liquid gypsum to improve water penetration.

Maintenance

While automatic watering systems allow you to devote time and energy elsewhere, if you do not occasionally check the system, you may be pouring money down the drain. Breaks, leaks, broken fittings and split pipes are common mishaps and much water can be wasted especially if irrigation is under pressure. And if you have, or are going to install, an automatic irrigation system, install one with a rain sensor.

As seasons change so does the watering requirements of your plants. You may find that watering one day a week is all that is needed during autumn and spring, and then maybe twice-a-week during summer, as permitted by the Water Corporation, for most garden plants.

Irrigation System Service

(1) yearly site service $165 (inc GST). Our Irrigation System services include:
  • Cleaning of in-line filter,
  • Check for leaks and function of solenoids,
  • Examine and test controller - adjust time and programming as appropriate,
  • Pumps are checked for leakages and freed of debris/obstructions,
  • Check flow, pipework, sprays, sprinklers, dripline and drippers as appropriate,
  • Flush all irrigation zones, check and clean valves. 

A short maintenance report on your entire system is included in this price.

Click here to be taken to our Irrigation Service web page for more information

Getting help

The Waterwise Garden Irrigator Program (WGIP) was developed in conjunction with the Irrigation Association of Australia and was launched in November 2003. The program is designed to raise the standards of domestic irrigation installation for improved water-use effiency in Western Australia. Irrigators endorsed under the program are qualified to design and install water efficient garden watering systems to an industry standard. To qualify for the program, irrigators must have two years experience in the industry and pass a written test.

Being Waterwise

Designing your home's irrigation system to be waterwise would not only conserve water but also save you money on your next water bill. Approximately 100 kilolitres a year can be saved by replacing 100 m2 of well maintained turf with paving or synthetic grass, or 50 kilolitres a year by replacing this area with a waterwise garden.

If you want to install an automatic irrigation system, install one with a rain sensor. These devices monitor or respond to soil moisture and prevent the controller from switching the irrigation on. Rain sensors vary in price, but a good one is less than $100.

Add plenty of organic matter such as compost and manure to the soil to improve water retention, plant health and soil structure. This is one of the most important steps in making your garden drought-tolerant. Remember, the healthier your plants are, the more likely they are to withstand drought conditions.

Water your plants in early evening or night, reducing loss by evaporation. About 60% of water is lost if you use fine sprays during the heat of the day – the water either never touches the soil or quickly evaporates as it does. Hand watering can be both relaxing and efficient, especially if you have a trigger nozzle which only allows water to leave the hose when it is pressed.

Undertake regular maintenance. While automatic watering systems allow you to devote time and energy elsewhere, if you do not occasionally check the system, you may be pouring money down the drain. Breaks, leaks, broken fittings and split pipes are common mishaps and much water can be wasted especially if irrigation is under pressure.

As seasons change so does the watering requirements of your plants. You may find that watering one day a week is all that is needed during autumn and spring, and then maybe twice-a-week during summer, as permitted by the Water Corporation, for most garden plants.


Consultations & Quotations

It is best to schedule an on-site consultation where you will receive site specific, one-on-one expert advice.  Click here >

Industry Partners:
Gwig
Irrigation Australia
Irrigear
Waterwise
Candlelight Farms
Suppliers:
Clayton Engineering
Fuji Clean
Eco-water
Green Life Soil
Calpeda Pumps
Netafim
Philmac
Puretec
Biolytix
Graf Water