An Automatic Irrigation System is a Must-Have

hunteralringtonAn automatic irrigation system is a must have when you are installing a new landscape. Even if you install the plants in the fall or early spring, the new plants will need help getting through their first few hot seasons. Let’s look at the system as a whole.

As you may assume most of irrigation system will be unseen and underground.  Which is a good thing aesthetically nobody wants to look at a bunch of pipes or tubing running across there yard. Just as important is the function and longevity of the system, proper burial of the system protects it from, cold weather, animals and people.

Parts of the System

City Meter – The valve that connects the water from the city’s water supply to your home.

Gate Valve – This is the point where your irrigation water is separated from the rest of your home for better volume and pressure control.

Mainline – The larger diameter pipe that supplies water from the Gate Valve to your Backflow Valve continuing to the irrigation Manifold.

Backflow Double Check Valve – This unit protects the water from your irrigation system returning to your home and city water system.

Manifold / Valves – Technically multiple remote control irrigation valves create the manifold. A remote control irrigation valve is a mechanical ball valve.  They are typically connected via wires to the system’s Automatic Controller, which makes them remote.  Each valve supplies water to one irrigation zone in your system.

Lateral Lines – These smaller diameter irrigation lines supplied by the valves they provide water to the corresponding zones in the yard.

Spray Heads – There are many kinds of spray heads. Pop-up body spray heads are what you typically see in residential applications. There are also Rotary pop-ups, which are a newer type of unit that apply water at a slower rate in rotation streams. Rotor body pop-ups, which are for larger applications typically sports fields that apply larger amounts of water quickly.

Drip – A drip system has a variety of different parts to approach each specific watering need you have in your yard.  The overall philosophy of drip is to reduce the amount of evapotranspiration during the irrigation process. It does this by applying water to the plant at a slower rate beneath the top of the soil.

Controllers and accessories – The brain of the irrigation system turning on the valves at set times so you don’t have to. There are many types of controllers and accessories.  Basically you want a controller that can have multiple programs (zone grouping) so that plants with similar needs get the same amount of water. All controllers have a variety of timing selections. To make your system more water efficient you can get rain and solar sensors, which increases the controller’s ability to automatically adjust to the day-to-day weather variations at your unique location.  Be advised if your interested in these types of add-ons you need to make sure you purchase a controller that can accommodate them.

Grading and Soil – A fresh start

grading soilObtaining your finish grade

Clear and grub: This also could be thought of as demolition, which it is. But

clearing and grubbing is a more refined process giving us the nice blank slate for

installing the infrastructure.

Cut and Fill: This refers to soil. To be cost effective as well as environmentally

friendly it is a good idea to balance the removal of soil onsite (cut) and the areas in

the yard that need soil (fill). Unless your soil is unsuitable for fill new soil and

amendments should be brought in.

Soil: Your soil is one of the most important pieces of a successful project and

healthy yard.

So let’s discuss soils

First off Soil is not dirt. Soil is a living organic structure built from different soil types

with their own mineral types and properties. Along with bacteria, insects and worms

feeding off of different soil types and each other. And not to mention all the stuff that

falls on the ground (organic material like leaf litter). Lets back up for a minute, soil

structure is made up of three core types of material:

Clay: Tight, flat, very small particles, high in minerals, high water retention.

Silt: Irregular shape, small size, general mineral composition, low to moderate water


Sand: Round, large to small size, rock fragments, low water retention.

Loam is in the center of the triangle and that is your ideal soil type. It has the

perfect combination of clay, silt and sand. This is ideal because you want your soil to

retain moisture but also drain.

These core soil types form what is known as the soil triangle. There is much more

involved in soil classification then what is discussed here but this will give you an

understanding of soil structure. There are many different types of classifications

within ( see

4167 )

The soils in most yards in our region are a silty clay with a low permeability rate

which causes all sorts of trouble. As you know from going outside and your feet leave

an exact boot print in the ground or the ground just sticks to your feet or maybe a

combination of the two. Then in the summer when the ground dries out the soil is

hard as a rock and it is no fun to dig in.

Because your soil at home is not going to be loam we need to amend the soil to get

closer to that ideal mix. Amendments are the next item we will discuss.

Infrastructure – the next phase in the landscaping process

all oregon infrastructureWell, now that your yard is completely ripped apart we have to start putting it back together.  At this stage we will be installing the components that make your yard work – the Infrastructure.  Over the next few weeks we will be going over what infrastructure is and the type of work infrastructure requires to complete.

This is a brief outline on infrastructure:

Clear and grub:  This also could be thought of as demolition, which it is.  But clearing and grubbing is a more refined process giving us the nice blank slate for installing the infrastructure.  

Cut and Fill:  This refers to soil. To be cost-effective as well as environmentally friendly it is always a good idea to balance the removal of soil on site (cut) and the areas in the yard that need soil (fill).

Soil and Amendments:  Your soil is one of the most important pieces of a successful project and healthy yard. We will discuss this subject in more detail in future posts.

Irrigation: One of the other pieces of infrastructure that is crucial to a successful project and a healthy landscape. Once again Irrigation is a large topic and we will be covering it in future posts.

Lighting:  Lighting is important to think about at the beginning a project you can easily plan for pre-wiring if your budget does not allow for all the light fixtures at the beginning of your project. Pre-wiring will save you money in the end once you can afford those fixtures.  

Power: We always need to be mindful where your power is and how that relates to your irrigation trenching and tree locations. Your power points from the house are also important because we need to have a place for your irrigation controller and your lighting transformer.  

Proper Base Material:  Depending on your hardscape choice, your base material could change as well as the depth of the soil we need to remove for that ideal base material.

Retaining Structures: Whether this means large concrete walls, segmented block walls or stacked boulders we need to accommodate for the proper access, backfill, drainage and staging for those structures.

Boulders: Boulders are both structural and aesthetic pieces of your yard. That is why they must be planned for according.  You don’t want tractor tracks going through your new lawn.

This will get you thinking about the beginning the stages of your new landscape and all the little tasks in-between.

The Demolition Process – What to Expect

It’s time to make a mess. Or, what you think might be a mess. Unfortunately, there isn’t a construction process that doesn’t make a huge mess.  Landscape demolition can be a bit stressful because the process is out in all oregon demolitionthe open for the whole neighborhood to see.  Your contractor is aware of this fact too and a good contractor will understand you and your neighbors will be watching.

How long will demolition take?

This depends on the complexity of the features in your landscape.  The demolition process can be short and sweet or last a week or more.  

all oregon demolitionWhat is below the surface is a mystery

Having to dig is the biggest fear of contractors during the demolition process.  We aren’t talking about the standard utilities that get marked by the utility companies like your gas, water, electricity and cable.  Those are easy to stay away from when digging, but they could cause issues with where you may want that nice tree.  What contractors fear are the hidden old footings or the mystery pipes and possible wires.  These are not usually big problems but it do slow down a project and costs money.

Unforeseen problems always exist

One issue that is always on a contractor’s mind is going to be the other unforeseen problems.  Experienced contractors know that even with the best planning problems can arise.  They may be something as simple as substituting a perennial or tree to that purveyor that is not able to deliver or produce a product on time.  Client revisions like changing a design or a last minute change of a material can be a simple fix or an issue that will bring on extra costs and delays.  Of course, contractors can have issues of their own like problems on other jobs or scheduling conflicts and miscommunications between employees.

Remember to be understanding

Remember the demolition process is only a phase in the construction of your new landscape and will end soon.  Everyone is looking forward to seeing that great new landscape, including the contractor.

Clean Up

During demolition and during the course of the entire project, a good contractor will clean up the site as best as it makes sense.  Meaning, we want to leave your house each day with progress being seen, but the site will be easy for you to walk and investigate while not tracking debris around with you.


Thinking of New Landscape?

Well the most important requirement is to contact a proven professional. You can contact a Designer or a Contractor. A Design/Build Firm is the best and that is exactly what All Oregon is. Once you have a professional you should outline an overall master plan. This way no matter what your budget is you can add on and stay on track instead of having a piecemeal yard. So contact us and we can get you on the right path.


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