Converting Rainbird Sprinklers to Garden Irrigation?

dulaheyJanuary 28, 2013

My wife and I recently purchased a house and I am busy on getting our raised vegetable garden beds built and ready to go for this spring.

The previous owners had a sprinkler system installed that covered the entire property. However, I do not want to use sprinklers on my vegetable garden. My original idea was to build my own irrigation system out of PVC pipe, but since there are sprinklers everywhere, I figure I can just convert one of the zones into a drip/emitter irrigation system.

The zone in question is a straight line of 14 different model 1800 sprayers against my north fence. They are spaced about 10 feet apart. I plan on building 16'x4' raised beds and so each bed could be watered by two of the current 1800 sprayers.

I've done a little bit of research and it seems I can buy a converter that goes into the existing sprayer that just creates a 1/4" male plug that you can then attack tubing to. Then place emitters on the tubing.

Does anyone have any experience/tips/suggestions about this process? Am I heading down a road of frustration? I have no experience with Rainbird products. Does the tubing not last very long? I assume it's best to keep the tubing covered with mulch to make it last longer? Are the emitters terrible?

If I do it this way each existing sprayer head will be converted to water a 8'x4' densely planted area. I'm assuming it could handle this?

Any advice is greatly welcomed. Thanks!

This post was edited by Dulahey on Mon, Jan 28, 13 at 12:50

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You can make you system more flexible by digging down and removing the heads at the lateral line and replace them with a valved riser and then use your drip system. Then each section can be irrigated separately. You will need to do this when gardening with different planting of varying different watering patterns and different harvest and planting time. Just a suggestion. Aloha

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 10:22PM
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So the lateral lines are most likely just PVC pipe?

And then to water my beds I would just turn on that zone and manually choose (with a ball valve?) which bed I want to water?

This sounds like a good idea, but I would be unsure about pressure and what not. Pressure isn't really regulated in a lawn sprinkler system is it? Would it be best to put some kind of regulater on each bed?

Thanks for the response btw!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 10:27PM
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Pressure is the dependent on how many outlets or sprinklers are in operation. If you have only one riser running then it will receive all the system pressure. The flow rate will be dependent on the cross-sectional area of the pipe and pressure. Systems are designed to handle the way the irrigation is set up knowing the flow rates of all the system irrigation heads and the overall system pressure. You could calculate what you can do by knowing each component's flow rate and pressure drop. But most people do things by trial and error. Which way do you want to go. To calculate the design, you need to some homework. For starters, the system's total flow rate and pressure. Would you know how to find those? Aloha

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 4:54PM
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I would not. I don't have any data on pressure or flow. I'm pretty sure trial and error would be how I would go.

This is kind of why I was originally leaning towards using the Rainbird converters because they contain a pressure regulator in them. I figured this would take care of any issues. Although, this is the most expensive way too.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:15AM
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You will not be sure what flow rate you will receive from the emitters because of the pressure regulation but it doesn't really matter. Just adjust the time of irrigation to apply the amount you believe the plants need according to their life cycle. There is a way to measure the flow rate from the emitters if you are interested.

Are you using municipal water from a outside faucet for your system or from your yard mainline before it enters the house? aloha

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:35AM
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