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Rain Water System

Star Guide to collecting large quantities of rain water for yard irrigation and toilet flushing.

I collect rain water from the roof and decks and even from around the foundations.  It is then fed to a 7,000 gallon rain water storage tank.  A couple of pumps and a pressure tank then turns that into high pressure rain water that is fed to the yard faucets for watering plants.

Ideally you should include the storage tank (or tanks) as part of your official drainage plan for your plot.

Rain Water Tanks Retaining Wall

You need to find a place it your yard that is at a suitably low height so that the drainage pipe will be able to slope down to it from the bottom of the footing trenches.

Ref Grade String Rain Water Storage Area 

 

Pipes to collect water

These are the pipes, one that takes water from the foundation and one that takes water from the gutters and decking.  Whenever you bury pipes in the ground it is worth taking lots of pictures so you can remember where you put them.

Drainage Water Trench To South

Drainage Pipes In Ditch By Septic

Gutter Drainage Pipe And Pumped Sewage

Footing Drain Elect Water In Trench

Stubbed Ends Of Footing Drainage Along Trench

Stubbed Ends Of Footing Drainage Pipes

Looking Down On Stubbed Footing Drainage Pipes 

(The following pictures show a cleanout on the top drainage pipe but this was removed later because the catch basin provides the cleanout functionality).

End View Drainage Pipe Etc Stubbed 

Pipes Electrical Round Deck Footing Markout 

Side View Drainage Pipe Etc Stubbed 

Gutter Drainage Pipe Sewer Conduit

Electrical Box Underground Being Installed 

Pipes Sewer And Catch Basin 

It is good to include a filter box inline with the gutter water.  You can use a small catch basin and fit a rigid filter mat inside.

Drainage Catch Basin 12in  Small catch basin

Catch Basin No Fill 

Sewer Pipe And Gutter Drain

Catch Basin With Back Fill 

 

Water storage reservoir tank

Make your own tank

You can use purchased plastic tanks, but my preferred method is to make my own storage tank in the ground.

Dig a hole in the ground.  I chose to make my hole 22' long x 10' wide x 6.5' deep.  With the walls round the outside an a bit of a gap that makes a storage volume of 20' x 8' x 6', which is 960 cubic feet, which is just over 7,000 gallons.

Excavator Digging Rain Storage Tank 

With a spade and some manual labor, get the bottom of the excavation level.  Use a self leveling laser to accomplish this.  I typically use a section of white PVC pipe with a line drawn with a felt pen at the height that the laser beam is at.  The bottom of the pipe is the required standardized soil level under where the wall will go.

Dewalt Self Leveling Laser   Details here .

There are plenty of ways to implement an expensive concrete tank in the hole, but the name of the game is trying to achieve the highest volume of storage for the lowest cost.  I chose to use low cost concrete blocks (CMUs) from the local HomeDepot store as they are only $1.32 each (98 cents when on sale).

Concrete block 8x8x16Concrete block 8x8x16

Concrete paving slabs are also used to form the floor.  It is important to have a floor as this stops the walls being pushed in by backfill side forces.

Build walls round the inside of the excavation by gluing together concrete blocks using PL-Premium construction adhesive .  You only need to put a bead of adhesive on the top edges with a couple of blobs between adjacent blocks.  Arrange them in a staggered overlap brick configuration.

A nice thing about using adhesive is that it comes in a convenient tube rather than you having to mix mortar all the way through the build process.  Even better is the fact that adhesive works in tension and compression rather than just compression.  This means the entire wall acts as a beam.  This means you do not need a footing.  You can just build the wall directly on the soil, using a laser level to get it horizontal purely for esthetic reasons.

Depending on the size of tank the walls may be strong enough using just the adhesive.  You can get more strength by buttressing with more glued concrete blocks.  If you really decide you want more strength then you can pour concrete into the cavity of the finished wall and even add some rebar for more strength, but you will find it is not necessary.

A negative with using adhesive is that the blocks are somewhat irregular in manufacture and there isn't 3/8" of mortar to take up the variation.  They are also slightly tapered so they can be got out of the mold.  I find it best to always put the smaller end down.  This often leaves a slight gap between blocks but that's ok because you put the blobs of glue at the top.

Rain Water Tank Drawing 

The first row is done by gluing the ends of blocks together.  Use clamps to hold them together as the glue dries.  Use a self leveling laser to get them all the same height.  It's ideally a multi-day process so the adhesive can dry between adding blocks.

Block First Corner In Rain Tank Hole 

Use a taught string to get the wall straight.

Rain Tank Concrete Block String

Despite what the following pictures show, it is actually best to build up the wall height fairly evenly so you are able to measure across the diagonals of the rectangle to make sure everything is square.

Rain Water Tank Blocks One Corner 

Rain Tank Wall Part Done South East

Rows after the first row can be added quickly as there is no need to let the adhesive dry between blocks.  Keep checking with a self leveling laser and a tape measure along the walls and across the diagonals to make sure the walls are going up approximately true.  You can chip away at the concrete blocks or add small spacers between rows to correct any errors, but things only need to be approximately right.

Rain Water Tank Getting Taller

Add the filter box for the incoming pipes. 

Rain Storage Tank Walls Full 

Rain Storage Tank From Up Top 

Rain Water Tank From Hill

At the corners it is good to build posts as per external lampposts

Rain Tank Corner Post Conduit 

Having eight posts is good because it allows for a roof above the rain tank.

Rain Tank With Posts Started

The following pictures shows the walls buttressed with additional concrete blocks.  It also shows the floor done with glued concrete paving slabs.

Rain Pond Butresses 

You will need to do some cutting of paving slabs to tightly have paving slabs over the whole floor area.

Cutting Paving Slabs 

The next job is to use type S stucco mortar on the walls and floor.

Filing Gaps Between Concrete Blocks 

Rendering Scratch Coat Rain Pond Brown Coat On Rain Pond

If you want you can color the stucco for the final layer of stucco, but you can leave the coloring to the waterproofing paint.

Color Finish Stucco Rain Pond

Rain Tank Rendered Filling 

After putting stucco on the walls, paint on waterproofing paint .

Behr Basement Masonry Waterproofer

Waterproof Paint On Rain Tank 

 

Filter Box Rain Pond 

I have two pipes that supply rain water.  One collects all the gutter water and one collects water from around the foundations.  It is good to keep foundation drainage separate from gutter water so even under blockage conditions no gutter water can get to the foundations.

Drainage Pipes Turning To Rain Tank 

Filter Box Pipes Into 

Labelled Pipes Into Drainage Filter 

Labelled Extra Pipes Into Drainage Filter 

 

Getting water from the reservoir tank

Rain pumping shelter

Details of the building used to house the pressure tank, buffer tank, and pump are detailed on the web page called Concrete Block Shed .

Concrete Block Shed Drawing

Rain Cave Side Back 

Submersible pump

You want to avoid  putting the pressure pump at the level of the bottom of the reservoir tank because that would involve having to dig another hole and it would be difficult to maintain as it is so far under ground level.  Instead it is best to use a small submersible pump in the reservoir tank on the bottom that can pump the water to a small above ground tank that then goes to the pressure pump.  The submersible pump only needs to raise the water about 10 feet (the depth of the reservoir tank plus the depth of the small above ground tank).

Submersible Pump Energy Efficient

Submersible pump float switch

A float switch in bottom of the storage reservoir tank ensures the water level in the storage reservoir tank is high enough for the submersible pump to have something to suck on.  It shuts off the submersible pump if the storage tank is not full enough.  This stops the submersible pump from being damaged or just wasting electricity.  The float switch level should be adjusted so it allows power to go to the submersible pump if the water level is above about 2".  It is a "closed when up" switch.  You can buy a submersible pump with an included float switch.

A second float switch is positioned in the top of the buffer tank and is used to turn off the submersible tank when the buffer tank is full.  It is a "closed when down" switch.

Float switch   Details here..

Above ground storage tank

This tank is filled by the submersible pump.  It acts as a buffer before the pressure pump in order to smooth out the various sporadic operation of the various pumps.  A sensible size is about 55 gallons.

Water Storage Tank (Small)  Water storage tank (small)

Rain Shower Outlet Oatey   Details here .

Best to put the outlet in the bottom of the rain barrel.

 

Making high pressure water

Pressure pump

 Wellhouse pressure pumpPressure pump

This is used to pump water from the buffer tank into the pressure tank.

Pressure pump float switch

This ensures the water level in the buffer tank never falls below the height of the outlet pipe (that's near the bottom of the buffer tank).  The float switch level should be adjusted so it allows power to go to the pressure switch and pressure pump if the water level is just above the height of the pipe that goes to the pressure pump.

Float switch   Details here .

Pressure Tank

The pump is not used to directly pump water to hose pipe.  If that were the case then the pump would need to be on all the time to maintain the water pressure to your yard taps.  Instead what happens is that the pump is used to build up water pressure in a pressure tank.  When you turn on a yard tap, you are using water pressure from the pressure tank.  Only if you leave the tap on for a while will the pressure gradually reduce, which will the trigger the pump to turn back on to build up a reserve of pressure again.

A pressure tank is something like 5 foot high with about a 3 foot diameter.  Pressure tanks have strong walls that can withstand at least 100 pounds per square inch (psi) pressure.  There is just one pipe into the tank at the bottom that is both the inlet and outlet.  Inside the tank is air and the air cannot get out.  As you pump water into the pressure tank, the air is compressed.  When the pump isn't on and you operate a tap in your yard then the compressed air pushes on the water to drive it to the yard tap.  There is a rubber membrane inside the tank that separates the air from the water, but the principle would work even if the membrane were not present.

Typically there is a pressure relief safety valve at the top of the pressure tank, but you really would not want to put it to the test.

The pressure tank I used can be found here.

Pressure Tank 

Pressure Switch

A pressure switch is what provides the mechanism for stopping the pressure pump once the required pressure in the pressure tank has been reached.  This switch is the other thing (in addition to the bottom float switch) that determines whether power is sent to the pressure pump to turn it on.  Typically a pressure switch is set to turn on the pump when the pressure has dropped to 50 psi and turn it off once the pressure has reached 70 psi.  The pressure switch allows you to adjust the figures.  If you set only a small range between the min and the max then the pump will come on more frequently (so will wear out sooner).  If you set the range too wide then you will have a noticeably variable water pressure.  A 20 psi difference is a good compromise.  In my case I set an average pressure of 50 psi, ie between 40 and 60 psi. 

The pressure switch I used can be found here.

Pressure Switch 

Pressure Gauges

There is no fundamental need to a pressure gauge, but I would recommend having one.  A pressure gauge allows you to see what going on and allows you to properly adjust your system.  Have it close to the pressure switch.  It lets you adjust the spring mechanism on your pressure switch to the right on and off pressures.

The pressure gauges I used can be found here.

Pressure Gauge 

 

Mosquito Control

Mosquito life cycle

Female mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in still water in a dark spot.  The eggs float on the surface of the water for about 48 hours before hatching into larva.  The larva will live in the water for about 10 days eating tiny plants and animals.  It then changes into a pupa that floats on the surface of the water for about two days before the adult mosquito emerges.

Mosquito Life Circle 

Either you need to make your pond/tank undesirable to female mosquitoes or you need to prevent the larva from developing into pupas.

The length of time for the egg, larvae and pupae stages depend on temperature, so mosquito control is particularly important in the warmer months.  A mosquito might go through its life cycle in 14 days at 70 F, but take only 10 days at 80 F.

Fish

Mosquito Fish

Gambusia affinis, better known as the mosquito-fish, are the best fish to chose for maximum effect.  Goldfish, killifish, flat-head minnows, and guppies are other types of fish that are also known to eat mosquito larvae.  Larger koi do not eat mosquito larvae.

Mosquito-fish are about an inch long and look similar to a guppy.  A large female gambusia is capable of consuming over two hundred mosquito larvae in an hour.  They are very aggressive fish and begin attacking the larvae when they are only a couple hours old.  Unfortunately, they will also attack dragonfly larvae (which are another predator to mosquito larvae) and will be aggressive toward other fish and tadpoles.

Mosquito-fish are very hardy and capable of adapting to different temperatures and salinity.  They live naturally in the southern United States.  However, some varieties of mosquito fish have been bred to survive colder temperatures, even down to -30 degrees F.  They are live bearers and can produce three to four broods each summer of about twenty-five to one hundred young each.  You do not have to worry about them over-populating since they are also very aggressive towards each other.  For wastewater ponds, add about 1000 fish per acre.

The white clouds or the black and white stripy zebra danios are also great for a pond.  They swim in a school, are attractive and easily munch up all the larvae.

Do not feed the fish as you want them to be hungry for mosquitos.

You may be able to obtain mosquito-fish for free from your local health department or mosquito abatement district.

http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=900+1499+1530&pcatid=1530&siteid=21& 

Tadpoles

Tadpoles not only eat mosquito larvae, but they grow up to become toads or frogs, which will eat adult mosquitoes.  One toad can consume about a hundred mosquitoes a night.

Bats

Some insect eating bats can catch up to 600 bugs in only an hour!

At night, bats come to life and flit through the air, using their sonar-like echo-location to hunt the tiny insects.  Bat houses, like bird houses, offer bats a safe place to live.  Setting one up in your yard will encourage these flying mammals to take up residence there and help control your mosquito population.  Bat houses are wooden structures that look like plain boxes.  There is a shallow opening on the bottom where the bats can enter.  The small dark boxes imitate bat's natural dwellings, like small caves and hollow trees.   There is however a slight rabies risk with bats.

Pond design

The best habitat for mosquito larvae is shallow stagnant water so you want to avoid this.  Stagnant water conditions are slow moving or motionless still water with low oxygen levels and high nutrient levels.

Any area of your pond that has shallow or still water will be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  This includes the surface of aquatic plants, water in the top of submerged pots, and shallow water near the edges of the pond.  Trim any vegetation that hangs over the edge of the pond that might provide shelter for mosquito larvae.  Having paving slabs rather than vegetation round the edge of the pond is a good idea.

Water surface agitation

Making the surface of the water agitated using a fountain or waterfall or air bubbler will make it unattractive to female mosquitos so they don't lay eggs.

Also Mosquito larvae are air breathers with a breathing tube like a snorkel that must break the surface of the water for them to take in air while they stay under water to look for food.  If the water’s surface is moving, it becomes difficult for them to breathe and they drown.

Newly hatched mosquitoes must rest on the surface for a few minutes to let their wings dry, because of this their mothers will not lay eggs in water that is constantly moving.

You want high oxygen levels and you can achieve that with aerators, waterfalls, and streams.

You want lots of water movement from pumping systems, skimmers, and bottom drains.

Ideally you need to keep the water flowing at all times.  If this is not possible then a few hours a day is better than nothing.

For a fountain you need the highest lift (say 6 feet), for the least power usage (say 25W), for the least money (say $27) so you can afford a few of them.

Fountain Pump Ponics Pumps   Details here .

Low nutrient levels

You want low nutrient levels and you can achieve this with filtration systems, water treatments, and aquatic plantings.

Bacteria additive

Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a naturally occurring type of bacteria that will kill mosquito larvae and some fly larvae, but is not harmful to fish, pets, wildlife, or humans.  It is commonly sold in doughnut shapes under the name "Mosquito Dunks" or "Mosquito Bits."

One dunk treats a 100-foot area for 30 days.

"Mosquito Dunks" are available from home supply stores such Home Depot or Lowes.  Mosquito larvae eat algae and small organisms which live in the water.  Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis is a bacterium that when eaten by the mosquito larvae induces a fatal dysentery-like disease that kills them.  It is highly selective, killing only the larvae of mosquitoes and a few other related flies.

Best strategy

It is best to use a combination of strategies.  I opted for a fountain that is often on, a deep tank with paving slabs round the top, and a bunch of mosquito-fish.

 

Yard taps

Conventional wisdom says you cannot just use a regular tap because the water in the pipe up to the tap end would freeze.  Yard taps have the water control at the bottom of the stem.  When you turn the water off, the residual water in the stem runs out into the ground rather than staying in the stem to freeze.

Yard tap Details are here .

Yard Tap Base Tee 

Yard Tap Clamped In Wood 

The negative with this sort of yard faucet is the high cost which means you cannot afford to have too many of them.  I prefer to use lower cost faucets fed by 1/2" PEX pipe.  PEX pipe can withstand freezing without bursting.

PEX Yard Faucet   Details here .

 

Fountains

As well as looking nice, fountains can be used to make the surface of water in a pond rough so that mosquitos do not lay their eggs in it.

For a fountain you need the highest lift (say 6 feet), for the least power usage (say 25W), for the least money (say $27) so you can afford a few of them.

Fountain Pump Ponics Pumps   Details here .

Ideally it is best to use a 12V DC pump so that you have the option of efficiently running it from solar without having to convert 12V DC from the solar panel to 115V AC.

If you don't initially have a solar panel then you can run the 12VDC pump using a power brick from 115VAC.

The nice thing about solar is that your enjoyment of the fountain is not degraded by thinking about your electricity bill.  Solar also means you potentially don't need an on/off switch because the fountain will just run whenever it has power to do so , which of course will be more on sunny days (which is when you want it the most as you will be more in the yard).  A negative with solar is that there will be gaps in it running during which mosquitos will be able to lay their eggs.

Here's a cheap solar powered fountain but try to find a longer lasting more powerful one...

http://www.harborfreight.com/solar-powered-fountain-pump-66093.html?ccdenc=eyJjb2RlIjoiMTY1OTEwMDMiLCJza3UiOiI2NjA5MyIsImlzIjoiMTUuOTkiLCJwcm9kdWN0X2lk%0D%0AIjoiMTc1MyJ9%0D%0A&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2016c&utm_source=1035&cid=mEmail_s1035_c2016c    $16

 

12VDC submersible fountain pump

Fountain Pump 12Vdc 

DM412

http://www.simplypumps.com/pumps/dynamax-pump/dm412.aspx   $49 + $6 ship
Voltage VDC - 12 Nominal
Currant Draw: 0.80 Amps
Power Usage: 9.0 Watts
Maximum Lift: 98 Inches
Flow Rate: 105 gallons/hr @ 5 feet
Weight: 5.6 Ounces
Tubing ID: Inlet 0.0.6250; Outlet 0.4375
Dimensions: 2.800 x 1.700 x 1.700 Inches

 

Irrigation System

You may well want to feed an irrigation system from your rain water collection system.  It is way less time consuming than going round with a hose pipe and is more efficient on water usage.  With a hand held hose pipe it is all too easy to forget to water a particular area.

Irrigation components are available from the following manufacturers...
    Rain Bird
    Orbit
    DIG
    Hunter Industries
    Toro
    K-Rain

Water supply

If connected to the potable water supply then building code requires you to have a backflow prevention device.  It must be mounted at least 12" above the highest sprinkler head.  If it is a separate rain harvesting system then you don't need a backflow prevention device.

If you do need a backflow prevention device you can use an anti-backflow electrically operated valve but if you are using zones with separate valves on each zone then you don't need an electrical valve in the backflow device.  Backflow devices typically mount above ground.  It is also worth having an overall shutoff valve to turn all water off to the irrigation system for maintenance and in case of a leek.

The water pressure (PSI) available is a big factor.  If it is too low then you will not be able to drive many sprinkler heads and the water will not spray very far.  If it is too high then you will get too much misting from the heads which causes more water loss through evaporation.  If using the regular potable water system then you may need a pressure regulator to reduce the pressure.  With your own rain harvesting system you will be able to adjust the psi to be what you want.

Flow rate measured in gallons per minute (GPM) is another factor.  With your own rain harvesting system, even though you will get an initial boost because of the water stored in the pressure tank, the steady state flow rate will be determined by your pumps, particularly the submersible pump in your big storage tank.

Rain sensor

It is a waste of water to irrigate your yard when it is raining.  A rain sensor will shutoff the system when rain is detected.

Irrigation Rain Sensor Rain Bird  Details here .

Zones

There are multiple reasons why it is best to split your system into multiple zones...
Water supply limitations (PSI and GPM)
    Plant type
    Sun or shade
    Terrain, ie how much the water runs off
    Soil type, ie how much the water soaks in
    Sprinkler performance

If you don't have enough PSI or GPM then you will need to split the system into zones and water the zones at different times.

You should always use the same water delivery method in a particular zone.  Don't for example have sprinkler heads and drip feeds within the same zone.  You even want to keep fixed sprinklers in a different zone from rotator sprinklers.

Valves

Irrigation Valve With Flow Control RainBird 1in  Details here .

Valves turn the water on and off.  They are operated by 24V AC (note it is Alternating Current, so it just needs a transformer).  You should provide 0.2 amps per valve (0.3A peak).

There can be just one valve for the whole system but it is best to split the system into zones and have one per zone.

Assuming you have an overall backflow prevention device or have a separate pressurized rain water system then you should use inline valves.

Valves are typically turned on and off by a control system.  That can be as simple as a programmable timer or may be more complicated (see later).

It is good to keep the valves close to each other in the same box in the ground even though the valves feed different zones.  It makes piping and wiring easier.  This is typically referred to as a "valve manifold".  You will want it near to the water feed and near to the control system.  Typically a manifold is implemented using PVC pipe and fittings glued together.  Allow for additional valves to be added to the manifold arrangement in the future.

You can use a common return wire for all the valves.  This means the number of wires you need is the number of valves in the manifold plus one.  Allow for future expansion.

Make sure the flow direction is correct.  Typically there is an arrow on the plastic valve body.

It is good to get a valve with a flow control so you can adjust how much water goes to a particular zone.  You only really need a 3/4" diameter valve, but it is more cost effective to use a 1" valve even though you will likely need 3/4" FNPT to 1" FNPT PVC bushings.  A large diameter valve is probably also slightly more reliable.

The Rain Bird brand has slightly better user reviews than the Orbit brand, but whatever brand is used you need to plumb it to be replaceable if it fails.  Also having a manual valve is useful so you can turn the water off to that leg to replace a faulty valve.  Ideally use a swivel connection so you can more easily replace it.  Could connect via 1/2" PEX from the manifold to the valve as PEX provides some swivel capability.

 

Wire for Valves

This is low voltage wire with multiple strands (eg 5 wires) than can be directly buried in soil.

Sprinkler Wire 5 Strand 

An alternative is to use 16 gauge 115V power extension leads and cut the ends off.  The cutoff ends are useful in themselves.

 

Water distribution piping

Even for fixed sprinklers it is best to use flexible pipe so that if a sprinkler head gets knocked it is less likely to crack the pipe and cause an underground leak.

Even though PEX pipe would work great, cost is the reason for not using it.  1/2" irrigation distribution pipe (60psi) costs under 9 cents per foot whereas 1/2" PEX pipe (130psi) costs 36 cents per foot.

Irrigation Distribution Pipe Half Inch Dig  Details here .

For the secondary branches for feeding eg drippers it is ok to use 1/4" pipe...

Irrigation Distribution Tubing Quarter Inch  Details here .

With the half inch piping it is best to use regular barbed pipe connectors rather than the smaller diameter irrigation ones sold for use with the pipe.

Pipe Adapter Half Inch MNPT  Pipe Adapter Half Inch

 

Feeding 1/4" hose from 1/2" hose

This is the easiest way to convert from a 1/2" MNPT pipe connector to the 1/4" pipe.  Don't expect too much from the control knobs and be careful not to break the 1/4" barb connectors.

Irrigation Maniford Half To Quarter   Irrigation Manifold - Half to Quarter Inch

 

Types of water delivery

Popup sprinkler heads

These can be fitted with a large number of different "sprinkler heads" to spray the water where you want it.  They can do 360 degrees or 180 or 90.  Having a 4" popup height is better than 2" as it clears adjacent grass and plants but they are more expensive (particularly if you also need to buy a different head).  A 2" popup with a quarter radius spray is an inexpensive way of doing targeted water delivery.

Irrigation Sprinkler Head Fixed RainBird    Irrigation Sprinkler Head 2in Quarter RainBird  Details here .

You can also get ones that slowly rotate.  This is the type I like for covering a large area, although they are more expensive.  The rotating ones can throw the water a greater distance because it is a narrow jet.

Irrigation Sprinkler Head Rotating   Details here .

By fitting different plastic inserts referred to as "sprinkler nozzles" you can determine how far the water is thrown by the jet.  They are rated in GPM (gallons per minute) and the figure is typically stamped on the plastic.  The GPM figure is only a general relative guide as the actual GPM delivered is also heavily influenced by the water pressure (PSI).  You need to look at the performance chart that determines the throw distance and GPM for a particular PSI.

Sprinklers are the best choice for grass areas and large outside plant areas.

In a greenhouse or other enclosed space you might not want rotating heads because you might get sprayed yourself.

For sprinklers in lawns it can be good to use ridged PVC pipe because it holds the sprinkler heads vertical in the correct locations.

Weeping hose

This is the best way to water a raised soil bed.  You can use 1/2" weeping hose but I prefer a 1/4" pipe.  I prefer to use the porous type rather than the type with discrete emitter holes, but the choice between the two types depends on your particular situation and soil type.

Soaker Hose Quarter Inch 

Irrigation Weeping Pipe Quarter Inch Dig  Details here .

If using a pipe with discrete holes then a 6 inch pre-inserted emitter spacing (ie holes) with 1/2 GPH flow rate from each emitter (ie each hole) is likely to be the best choice.

Landscape drip (spot watering)

Precise and very slow delivery to a particular plant.  This does not scale well if you have lots of plants.  It can be useful for a valuable plant or one that is on life support.

Typically a 1/2" pipe ("distribution tube") is used along the length of the bed and then "emitters" are used to branch off to 1/4" piping that has the delivery holes.  Emitters come in a range of flow rates.

Flood Bubbler

This delivers lots of water to a particular area such as a particular tree.  I think that often a better way is to put a ring of weeping pipe around the tree to feed its roots directly.

Impact rotary sprinkler

These are the ones that make the distinctive noise.  I'm not a big fan of these as they are more expensive and the noise can be annoying.

 

Automation Controller

Phidgets Usb Sensor Board  Details here .

 

Other notes

Irrigation pipes should be laid about 12" below the surface.  In my area that corresponds to the frost line, but it does not matter if it freezes because you won't be watering during a frost.

For laying the pipes you can rent a trenching machine from eg HomeDepot for cutting thin trenches.  It however does not do too well if there are large rocks.

 

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