Lawn irrigation -- are you experienced?
August 7, 2020 11:05 AM   Subscribe

A couple questions about lawn irrigation systems - Orbit timer operation, and converting spray to drip.

I've just upgraded our old lawn sprinkler system to electric. I put in an Orbit timer. It's working but not in a manner intuitive to me -- but maybe this is just the way sprinkler systems work? There's several zones, and when I set them up (for example, Zones 1, 2 and 3), instead of Zones 1, 2 and 3 coming on for the specified duration all at once, Zone 1 sprays for that duration, THEN Zone 2 and finally Zone 3. Maybe there's a Simultaneous/Sequence toggle I can set? (The minimal documentation that came with refers to somewhere online for the real manuals, which isn't there.) Also it can handle three separate Programs, but if I try to overlap, specifying different Zones, the subsequently-timed Program doesn't happen. Again, maybe that's just how these things are supposed to work?

Second question, converting spray to drip.
We replaced all the sprinkler heads with manifolds that distribute water to multiple drip emitters. Do I really need to add a Compression Fitting or Pressure Regulator? Receiving conflicting information, and Lowes/Home Depot seems to carry everything I need EXCEPT these fittings. Everything seems to be working, nothing's leaking or blowing out (yet). I did manually reduce the pressure in the valve, but I haven't measured the pressure anywhere. Note that I have Hunter anti-siphon valves, but if I reduce the pressure (with the middle knob) enough to notice any difference, it begins making an alarming sound.
posted by Rash to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
In my limited experience, the whole point of zones is so they go off sequentially. A lot of people's systems don't have enough pressure to run all at once.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:07 AM on August 7, 2020

Agreeing with Lyn Never, that is exactly how Zones are supposed to work.
posted by blurker at 11:51 AM on August 7, 2020

We replaced all the sprinkler heads with manifolds that distribute water to multiple drip emitters. Do I really need to add a Compression Fitting or Pressure Regulator?

Yes, you need pressure regulators because your sprinkler system water line is probably equal to or maybe even bigger than the one going into your house - that's a lot of pressure that will blow out cheap sprinkler parts. If you have never had a sprinkler system before, expect to budget a certain amount of time each year to repairing the regular sprinkler heads that blow out.

If you don't put pressure regulators on them, you will basically have an underground water drill firing away at your dirt, and you will eventually see problems.

And yes, if you want them to all come on at the same time, they should be on the same zone. You can actually have someone remove your zone controllers (cut the pipe and splice in new pipe) if you did happen to want this.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:10 PM on August 7, 2020

Yes, that is how zones work. Unless you have a really big water supply pipe, or your zones are really small, you likely don't have enough available flow to run them all at once. It also lets you water different areas appropriately to their needs -- the grass with southern exposure is going to need more watering (ie, longer run times) than the area in the shade with drought-resistant plants, for example.

For the drip, it depends on what you have exactly, but most drip irrigation is designed to be connected to lower pressure water than your regular lawn sprinkler is. Sometimes the kits you get for converting a sprinkler head to a drip manifold already have that built in, so you might be covered that way. If not, you should put on a pressure regulator for that zone to prevent the kind of issue mentioned above.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:16 PM on August 7, 2020

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