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Posted: 5/12/2003 9:59:24 AM EDT
Since there is absolutely NOTHING that can't be solved here by the vast knowledge data base of the ARFCOM Army, I'm here humbly seeking your help. I'm having an irrigation system installed in our yard. I have three estimates now. Dollar-wise, they range from $2,600 - $4,000. The yard somewhat odd shaped, being generally trapazoidal, with the back yard curved slightly by the pond waterfront, making one side of the yard a bit deeper than the other. There is a 30x80 mulch bed in front and a side yard lawn with a large mulched planter in the front with woods and a stream on one side. Total square area of irrigation including the flower beds in front is ohhhhh...maybe 15,000' sq. The house sits on a hill with the mulch bed taking the lower 1/3 of the hill down to the grassy culvert/drainage ditch often seen in rural VA and maintained by the county. All of the contractors I've contacted say 6-8 zones and their prices vary between $400 and $600 per zone. One guy wants to use sprayers on the mulch bed because it won't get enough water...he says...if we don't. Another wants to use those pop up golf course looking "rotor" thingies because they, "...use 3 gals/minute and that's plenty!" One guy wants to use Weathermatic equipment, one wants to use Hunter and the third swears by the new-design Rain Bird. They all offer an annual "maintenance" program including winterization drainage...(I guess to prevent the pipes from exploding...but I don't see that as a big problem here.) but the price for that differs greatly too...from $145 - $275! All offer a parts and labor warranty too...but again, with wide cost differences. All seem to be popular in our area. There is one big caveat here. I MUST keep the county water out of the pond because the chemicals the country uses to treat the water in our pipes is harmful to the fish and birds. Since I don't want to mess up my great bass fishing, and Miz LWilde would kill me if I messed with her ducks and geese, I have to be careful not to spray into the pond. With all that jazz in mind...can you guys provide some advice...some lessons learned? Anything at all will be welcome. Thanks in advance! [hail]
Link Posted: 5/12/2003 10:07:10 AM EDT
I had an underground sprinkler system when I lived on Lake Huron. I had an electric pump by the beach and drew water out of the lake. Can you draw water out of your pond? That way you aren't putting chemicals in the pond.
Link Posted: 5/12/2003 10:14:47 AM EDT
Originally Posted By TheCommissioner: I had an underground sprinkler system when I lived on Lake Huron. I had an electric pump by the beach and drew water out of the lake. Can you draw water out of your pond? That way you aren't putting chemicals in the pond.
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Yea...I thought about that too...but some years when we are in a draught, the pond level drops pretty badly. It's only a few acres in area and I don't want to put the fish at risk. It started out 30' deep about ten years ago...and I'd say it's silted up maybe a couple of feet already so I'd better use the county water. My problem is the wide range of equipment, prices and services offered by these contractors. I am confused. Thanks.
Link Posted: 5/12/2003 10:21:34 AM EDT
LWilde, For what it's worth, I have 7 zones, and a yard on a pond that sounds like a similar size & layout to yours. I paid $1500 for all of the equipment, and to have the pipe pulled. I dug all of the holes for the valves and heads, and hooked everything up to the mainline. It only took about 2-3 full days of work. $145-$275 to hook up an air compressor and blow out your lines is BS - I pay $50 a year for this, and only because it'd take me a couple of hours with my 4hp compressor. Hope this helps.
Link Posted: 5/12/2003 10:36:40 AM EDT
I am currently in the process of designing my own system. Other landscape issues are taking precedence at the moment, such as a block retaining wall, but I will be doing my own irrigation system sometime this summer. I ran across this site a month ago, and found it to be packed with tons of info. Do yourself a favor and read up on this stuff before shellling out a bunch of dough on an inferior system. [url]http://www.irrigationtutorials.com/[/url] Cope
Link Posted: 5/12/2003 10:40:17 AM EDT
Caveat: It has been nearly 20 years since I was in that business. Rainbird, Hunter and Toro are all fine equipment. You should be fine with any of them. When I was bidding jobs, we used a 1/3 parts, 1/3 overhead and 1/3 profit breakdown. The price difference for you might be based on how much overhead and profit they are figuring. The equipment costs should be similar, regardless of brand. The number of zones is based on how many g.p.m. are needed and the size of the pipe used. In OK, most res. systems use a 1" main (your meter is usually 3/4 to 1"), with 3/4 and 1/2" pipe feeding the heads. Spray heads are a good idea for any area less than 20' wide. Make sure the design calls for head to head coverage, i.e. each head sprays all the way to the next head. Some runoff is to be expected, especially if wind is an issue. In OK, it is usually windy, and so impossible to avoid spraying the street, etc. The use of impact (rainbird type) or stream spray heads nearest the pond should help minimize this. Another consideration is where the valves are located and the type of backflow prevention used (usually set by code). If your valves are placed in a manifold, they are easier to maintain. Blowing out your lines sounds like b.s. to me. Each spring, just remove the end heads and fire that mother up. Have the contractor install drains in the low points and lay the pipes 12" deep and forget about freezing. Just turn off the master shut off valve to the system for the winter, and the system drains itself. (you can get either brass drains or "King" drains that are plastic, cheap either way.) Good luck. Good luck!
Link Posted: 5/12/2003 12:22:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/12/2003 1:14:53 PM EDT by slacko]
I design irrigation systems (residential to streetscape to corporate HQ's) for a Landscape Architect and have a BLA (bachelor's of Landscape Architecture). Here are the main considerations: 1) Drawing from a pond will be more expensive due to maintenance and additional dirty water equipment for silt/residue/algae/water level and pump/filter. If you have neighbors around the pond they won't like you 'draining'it. If you have city/county water go with it. 2) The size of the zone depends upon your water supply (psi at max use and flow - size of main). You can't do an accurate cost estimate based on zones without knowing those two things. 3) There are benefits for spray, rotor, and drip emitters. Many contractors tend to push what they know (brand/style-wise) and what they are able to get and install cheaply. The right design will pay for itself. Also, go with a brand that has good local support (Rainbird and Toro are the best in this area). 4) Find a book called Simplified Irrigation Design by Pete Melby. It is what was recommended for homeowners last I checked. It will teach you about friction loss and voltage drop and the other basic concepts of irrigation. Even if you can't run a trencher or vibratory plow, you'll be on a more even ground technically talking to contractors. You may be able to do more on your own than you think. I'd be happy to help with this if the above didn't answer your questions. I even do some design work on the side for ammo $ occasionally [;D]. Send me an I.M. if you want... edited to add a quick example of why rotors won't work for mulch bed: Sprays put out 4 gallons per min. +/-, w/15' radius max.[/b] = 700 S.F.+/- = 1.58 in./hr. rainfall. Rotors are for much larger areas but only put out 14 gallons per min +/-, w/60' radius max. = 11,304 S.F.+/- = .73 in./hr. rainfall. SO: - You can cover much larger areas w/rotors but have to run them 2x (may vary w/nozzle) as long to get the same amount of water. - You have to use the head who's radius matches the size of the area you're irrigating best, as well as separate zones that use different amounts of water (turf=high, plants=much lower). - A head that does less than a full circle (1/4, 1/2, 3/4) has to be 'nozzled down' so that it delivers 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 the amount of water respectively. Sprays do that automatically, but rotors have sets of interchangeable nozzles for that purpose (because they most often have adjustable arcs).
Link Posted: 5/12/2003 12:27:37 PM EDT
Originally Posted By sashmore: Caveat: It has been nearly 20 years since I was in that business. Rainbird, Hunter and Toro are all fine equipment. You should be fine with any of them. When I was bidding jobs, we used a 1/3 parts, 1/3 overhead and 1/3 profit breakdown. The price difference for you might be based on how much overhead and profit they are figuring. The equipment costs should be similar, regardless of brand. The number of zones is based on how many g.p.m. are needed and the size of the pipe used. In OK, most res. systems use a 1" main (your meter is usually 3/4 to 1"), with 3/4 and 1/2" pipe feeding the heads. Spray heads are a good idea for any area less than 20' wide. Make sure the design calls for head to head coverage, i.e. each head sprays all the way to the next head. Some runoff is to be expected, especially if wind is an issue. In OK, it is usually windy, and so impossible to avoid spraying the street, etc. The use of impact (rainbird type) or stream spray heads nearest the pond should help minimize this. Another consideration is where the valves are located and the type of backflow prevention used (usually set by code). If your valves are placed in a manifold, they are easier to maintain. Blowing out your lines sounds like b.s. to me. Each spring, just remove the end heads and fire that mother up. Have the contractor install drains in the low points and lay the pipes 12" deep and forget about freezing. Just turn off the master shut off valve to the system for the winter, and the system drains itself. (you can get either brass drains or "King" drains that are plastic, cheap either way.) Good luck. Good luck!
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This is all great advice. I had an irrigation business up until a couple of years ago when I decided I wanted to do other things and I gave up my license. I'd say the average price is $500/zone, so it sounds like they are all in the ballpark. It's normal for everyone to use different manufacturers materials, but as long as you stick with the name brand stuff (rainbird, toro, etc) you'll be fine. All of their parts are comparable it's just that everyone has their own preference. I'd pass on the bullshit "winterizing" services. Why are they selling you that when they should just bury the pipes below the freeze line anyway.
Link Posted: 5/12/2003 12:52:09 PM EDT
Hey...THANKS GUYS! Miz LWilde and I just finished reading your postings and I really appreciate your inputs. I have another contractor coming over tonight and I intend to ask him some questions based upon the info I have here. Your inputs are MUCH APPRECIATED. [:D]
Link Posted: 5/12/2003 12:55:16 PM EDT
I agree w/you Pony, but around here you're lucky to get lines over 8" deep before hitting limestone. That's why it's always important to take into consideration where the system is going in. Winterization is often the only option here unless you want to hire a track-hammer to go 24" (our freeze depth) for all mainlines and 18" for all laterals. King drains just don't go with the territory here, but they're nice when they work.
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