Subsurface Dripline for Irrigation of Lawns

Are sprinklers the only choice for lawns?

When thinking about irrigation for grass, most people would probably imagine that pop-up sprinklers are the only answer.  While we often choose them, there are circumstances where sprinklers would be totally inappropriate.  If the area that needs watering is close to buildings, for example, as in our recent job in Redbourn, sprinklers would cause problems.  There is an answer!  Subsurface dripline is a great choice for irrigating lawns.

Different irrigation methods for different plants and situations

When we’re designing irrigation systems, we always tailor them to suit the individual garden.  Obviously we look at the plants, and consider their watering needs.  We also look at the landscape and the soil.   All these things help us work out how many zones to include and how to set up the watering in each area of the system.  And different plants like different types of water application.  A high pressure jet won’t suit flowers with delicate petals, for example!  This means that we might use many kinds of irrigation in one garden.

So what’s best for lawns?

For some plants, there’s really only one suitable option.  However, with lawns, watering from above or at root level is equally useful.  So how do we decide?  It used to be that pop-ups were less expensive to install in larger areas of lawn.  This is because subsurface dripline could only be installed by removing the turf completely, removing several inches of topsoil, laying the dripline and then reinstating both the soil and the turf.  This is fine for small areas but obviously increases labour costs.  By contrast, the standard process of cutting a few trenches to lay pipework for popup sprinklers took less time and was therefore less expensive.  Sadly it wasn’t suitable for dripline.  Trenching machines usually cut a trench several inches wide.  That’s perfect for pipes but would not suit installation of dripline, which is laid in parallel rows over the whole area.

Now however, we have a state-of-the-art machine that cuts a trench only one inch wide.  Check out our previous post about this new trencher for laying subsurface dripline.  There’s only one other machine like this in the country, but it makes subsurface dripline cost effective even over large areas, which means we can base our choice on personal preference.

The installation in Redbourn was a different matter in any case.  We didn’t need to use the machine as we were working with a relatively small area that hadn’t had the turf laid yet.  Laying the dripline directly on the ground was simple.  After that we just covered it with 8 tonnes of soil and turfed over that!  The irrigation system for this lawn has no sprinklers accidentally watering the house, and an exceptionally economic way of watering that utilises every precious drop and wastes nothing.  Win win!