New home w/irrigation system, how do I plan my gardens?

LadyLatitude(8b)August 11, 2011

Hello! I need some advice!

I just moved in with my fiance and he has a beautiful house with a HUGE yard. It's a bit more than .25 acre. We want to get married in the backyard (YAY backyard wedding!). So, I'm eager to start making the backyard pretty! I've always grown plants, but only in pots, so I guess I'm a newbie to gardening outdoors in the ground.

The situation is a huge yard with two tiny trees and nothing else BUT, already has a sprinkler/irrigation system. Aren't most watering systems installed after gardens or landscaping is done? How do I proceed? I know where the heads are, but not the pipes. My fiance is REALLY nervous about me going to town making flower beds and retaining walls without us knowing where things are. Is there a way to find out? Is it okay to dig to a certain depth w/o knowing where the pipes are? Is there a way to find out where they are? Should we just build flower beds around the current location of the heads?

We are willing to invest in our home and have a yard that's pretty and inviting, but we would like to keep it on the cheaper side of life. I just want some advice on how to get started w/o hitting a pipe or causing an expensive repair.



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Sometimes a map of the system comes with the installation sometimes not but then a configuration for lawn is going to be different from a what you now plan so either add to what you have making cutting through a pipe essential or install new pipes but keeping the pump and controls. coming from the other end: if you know where the heads are and where the control box is the connections will most likely follow a straight line (no guarantee) and the depth will be less than you think.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 5:28PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Your question is so general that it is really difficult to get specific answers. Irrigation systems usually have separate valves/zones for different types of plantings, so you may need to adjust your design to the existing irrigation, or adjust the irrigation system to fit your intended garden design. As 1 example lawns are usually irrigated separately from garden beds and planting areas.

Regarding your question about locating irrigation lines, you can locate pipe directions by carefully digging around each head until you hit the pipe. If the pipe is cheap thin wall plastic pvc pipe, you will need to dig very carefully because the pipe cuts all too easily.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 2:21AM
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You're going to hit pipe. You will. Accept it, make peace with it, learn how to repair it, and move forward. A lot of people are terrified of their irrigation systems because they don't understand one simple fact: water is not moving through those pipes until the controller opens the valve for that zone. Worst case scenario, you shut that zone off until you fix the leak (or have a pro fix it). If you get super unlucky and hit the main line from the house to the valve boxes (this is the only line that is always charged) your system should have a main shutoff valve right at the house (may be on the backflow preventer).

Since you have nothing going on besides lawn and a couple trees, you will need to move heads as you put in beds. The lawn heads will need to be moved to the edge, and you may decide to add irrigation zones for the beds as well. So no matter what, you're going to want to either develop a relationship with an irrigation contractor or start learning about irrigation.

If you do any of it yourself, just remember the irrigator's prayer. "Lord, I know you wanted water to flow downhill. Please look the other way before I flip this switch. Amen."

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 11:29AM
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