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How To Use Micro-Misters For Drip Irrigation Systems

>>Welcome to today’s edition
of Southwest Yard and Garden. I’m Curtis Smith, your host
for this garden program made for the gardeners in the
Southwestern United States. Today, we’re going to
visit with Willie West. He’ll be talking to us
today about drip irrigation. Willie, glad to have you again.>>Thank you.>>Well, I see you’ve got a
drip irrigation installed here and these flowering plants
near the entry to the house. This is the high-water zone?>>Yes, it is, Curtis. And, actually, what we have
installed here is at type of drip system called
a micro-mister system. It allows us to put
down low volumes of water over a wide area. Since we have a lot of ground
cover type plant material in here with the annual flowers,
running an individual emitter to each one would be ridiculous. So we use a micro-spray system and it does a very
good job in this area.>>Keeps good moisture
coverage over it. All of the plants
are pretty happy.>>Yes.>>And these are just now
installed, so you’re trying to water them to get
them established.>>Right. These plants were
installed a little less than a week ago so the water
usage is up a little bit but you have to do
that for establishment. What’s nice about this type
system in this particular area, since we do have
an annual bed here, we do have to amend it
every year, or more often, but usually every spring before
we put in the summer color. What’s nice about the
micro-mister type systems is we can pull the whole
system out of here. Come in, do our soil
manage, rototill, put the system back
down, and then go for it.>>And that’s one of the
evidences of the high-water zone because that’s where we’re going to be putting the organic
amendments in regularly. And so working carefully around
the roses, which are permanent, but you’re able to come
in here, change it, make it what you need it to
be, and put the plants in.>>That’s right.>>I noticed that you’ve
even got potted plants on drip irrigation.>>Yeah, Curtis. This is a type of emitter that
puts out a low volume of water, just specially designed and
used in pot areas like this. It is important to note though
that this system for these pots, we have about 20 pots in and
around this property out there, this is a separate system
from everything else, including the annual
beds over here. The pots, if you tend
to overwater them, you tend to get a lot of water
runoff and minerals that are in the potting soil tend
to stain your walkway. So this one, it is important
when you do do pots that you try to keep them separate.>>And what plants
to you have in here?>>This is a purple fountain
grass, which should get up — it’s an annual, that will get
up about two-to-three foot tall. And then we have some verbena, that should cascade
down over the pots. So they go real well together. Once this starts growing
and fills out more, you won’t see the pot.>>Looks pretty. Let’s see, we’re using a
different drip irrigation system in there.>>Yeah. Curtis, this
is a more typical type. This is just a Flag
Emitter type system. This particular one, I believe, is a four-gallon-per-hour
emitter. The lilac’s a little bit
more thirsty than some of our other native
type plant material. The purpose of this system
is, this landscape here is about two years old so the emitters are
installed right next to the plant material. But out about where
you’re kneeling at, we also have additional emitters
installed in line to allow for root development over time. As this plant continues to
mature, we’ll cap these off to encourage root development
further away from the plant. It gets a better-established
plant material that way.>>That’s good because,
as a plant grows, its roots spread
out considerably.>>Right.>>It looks like it’s
running very well. I noticed earlier that it
had a white crust on it.>>Yeah, that is one
thing with the minerals that we have in our water. We do get a lot of salt
buildup from time to time and to the point, especially
with the lower type emitters, that it can actually
clog them up. You can either replace them or, sometimes through
the small orifice, you can take a safety pin or
a needle and just clean them out when they’re running. One of the things we like to
do is, on a shrub like this, we will run two emitters
to each shrub. The purpose for that
is, if one gets clogged, the other one’s still there to
keep the plant material alive. It may not be that
vigorous but it’s alive. On trees, we’ll do four,
six, or eight emitters, depending on the size of
the tree when it goes in. You never really want to do
just one emitter because, if one does clog
up, you’re going to lose the plant unless
you’re very meticulous about going through your system.>>Another benefit, I see, to
drip irrigation in a setting like this is that the only
place where there’s moisture, the only really good
opportunities for weed growth is where you’re applying the water. So you’re not having
weed growth everywhere.>>Yeah, that’s correct. If we were to have a
spray type situation here, even though we have a fabric
underneath this mulch, we’re still going to get
weed seeds growing in on top of the mulch, weeds popping up. By having the water located
just at the base of the plant, we don’t have as much
of a weed problem.>>That’s a smart way to go.>>Yeah, it sure is.>>I see there’s even
a different irrigation system here.>>Yeah, Curtis, this is more of
a temporary system that we use to just get the aspen
established out in this meadow area. As you can see, all we’re
doing with this system — we didn’t bury it or anything,
it’s just for a couple of year system, get tree
establishment going, and then this system’s
going to go away.>>So this will be an
area that’s on its own because there’s enough
moisture for the plants that are planted here.>>Yeah, that’s right.>>But they need that extra help
during the establishment period.>>Right, like I said, these
trees are about two years old. We’ll probably go
one more season with the temporary drip system and then this system
will go away.>>I noticed you’ve got
some emitters in-line.>>Right.>>And you’ve got some
supply tubes over here, carrying it off to
the other tree.>>Right. We used
the quarter-inch, we ran the main tubes as close
to those trees as we could, then we ran a quarter-inch. On this quarter-inch
tubing, we do put in staples because this will move
around a little bit. This is just to hold these into
place so they don’t move away from the base of
the tree too far. One of things to keep in
mind with this type tubing, especially out here in the East
Mountains where we’re at now, rodents really love
these things. They like to chew on them. So occasionally, you will find
holes — cut it and patch it.>>It’s easy enough to do. This is easy material
to work with.>>Yeah, this is a
real simple system. There again, it’s just like
with the spray heads though, you do need — there are many
different types of emitters that are available
on the market. This is a Flag Emitter,
there’s some called Xeri-Bug, there’s other types available. No matter what you do though,
they all need to be the same.>>Keep them uniform
throughout the system.>>That’s correct.>>Well, here we are at the
valve box, the source of it all. For this drip irrigation system,
we’ve got the valves here, the backflow preventer’s here. We don’t have the
controller here, that’s in another location, but
this is where it all begins. What is this?>>What this is, Curtis, is
a place to keep your valves and the other parts
of a drip system. The same as a turf area, we
just have an electronic valve. On a drip system
though, you also need to add two other elements, which
are down in this valve box. One is a filter. For the purpose of this
filter, because the openings on these drip emitters
are so small, you have to have this
filtration system online just to keep any particulates
from getting into the system. You also need to leave enough
room down in the bottom of the valve box
— set that down — to periodically go in
and you unscrew this so you can clean
this filter, okay. And the next thing in line
is a pressure reducer. Drip systems like to operate
at a low volume, low pressure, that’s the whole
purpose of them. This keeps the pressure in
the system at a constant rate. On this particular
one, I believe, it’s 20 pounds of pressure. And those are real important
because then, that way, the system is operating
the way it’s supposed to.>>If you didn’t do that, you’d
have things blowing apart?>>You have the possibility
of it. In some situations, you can go without the pressure
regulator but, in most cases, you
need to use them. Other than that, that’s about — the only difference
between these and a turf system is you have
these two additional items in line. The backflow prevention, which
we have here, is just the same as what we talked about
previously about the turf areas. You have to have a backflow, six
inches above the highest point of use, on each valve in order to meet the current
code requirements and for your own safety.>>Keep from having water from
the landscape siphoning back into your drinking water.>>That’s correct.>>I can imagine
there are things out here we really
wouldn’t want to drink.>>Oh, probably not.>>Well, Willie, thank you. I appreciate the tour of
this drip irrigation system.>>My pleasure, thank
you, Curtis. [Happy music]

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