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Drip system layout for hillside

Posted by whitehautephoto none (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 3, 12 at 16:25

Our back hillside use to be covered with groundcover and large shrubs, and we have a normal sprinkler system installed currently. We ripped out all the shrubs and dug out all (almost all) of the groundcover, and the area has now been planted sparsely with succulents, low-water grasses and other desert plants. We are still using the sprinklers to keep the slope watered, but that's giving weeds a tremendous incentive to grow, and they are sprouting up everywhere.

I'm ready to remove the sprinklers and replace with a drip system to go to each plant and cut out the water going to the weeds. My question is, what's the best way to lay out the drip system?

The hillside is probably 150-200 feet long, and the elevation change is probably 10 feet from top to bottom.

Should I start at the water source (which is basically centered along the length of the slope), run tube straight up the hill, then connect horizontal tubes out to the left and right, maybe in three rows, to run the length of the slope, and then use the emitters to run vertically down to the plant?

I've read about using check valves in the tubing to prevent the water all emitting from the lowest tubes after the system shuts off, would that be needed in a design like this one below?

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RE: Drip system layout for hillside

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 4, 12 at 0:18

By code you should have your valves with anti-siphon above the height of your irrigation, or alternatively have a vacuum breaker before the valves. Depending on the layout and density of plantimgs, it may make as much sense to use continuous emitter line tubing at regular spacing acrosd the slope. I've used this approach with succulents on a much steeper slope, using 1/2" emitter line with emitters at 12" on center, laying out parallel lines at same elevation about 18" apart. Heavy mulch spread over all bare ground kept the weeds under control until the plants completely filled in in 6 months time. This system replaced an existing spray system which couldn't adequately soak the root zone without causing erosion and run-off. The water bill was halved, and pre-existing plants along with the new are thriving.

I've also redesigned steep slope plantings with existing spray irrigation which was not switched out with new supplemental plantings. Again, thorough weed control utilized heavy mulching to minimize weeds. This other garden slope was much more heavily shaded by trees, so water use is still reasonable given it isn't drip.

In any case, I'd recommend use of coarse fibrous redwood bark mulch to "stick" to the slope, and possibly clearing all weeds prior to applying mulch, and maybe applying a weed pre-emergent prior to mulching as well.

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