Residential Irrigation in the Desert


computers for irrigation system
     Irrigation is a must in order to grow trees, bushes, plants, flowers and vegetables in the residential landscape in the desert.  It is a complicated, computer-driven undertaking, and one almost needs an engineering degree to set up and maintain the system.  My husband and I have spent countless hours reading manuals, adjusting the days and run times on the computer for each season, and adjusting the water amounts for individual plants.

close-up of computer task choices

     We have two types of irrigation in our yard:  sprinkler irrigation for the patch of grass in the back yard, and drip irrigation for everything else.  The front yard is on a drip system with adjustable dripper heads at each tree, bush and plant.  These dripper heads control the amount of water that flows to each plant.  The trees have three drippers that produce 5 gallons of water an hour.  Dripper heads are color-coded as to the amount of water per hour that flows through them.  The trees are watered for 1 hour three times a week in the summer.

tree drippers

     The bushes and plants in the front yard each have one dripper that produces 2 gallons of water an hour.  In the summer the trees, bushes and plants are watered three times a week for 45 minutes.  This schedule changes with each season.

bush dripper

     The drippers for the trees and bushes in the back yard are not adjustable as to water rate flow.  They produce 2 gallons of water an hour.  The amount of water is controlled by the amount of watering time.  In summer the trees and bushes are watered for 11/2 hours three times a week.

non-adjustable back yard dripper

     In the flower garden there is a dripper under or near each plant.  These dripper heads are truly adjustable as to water rate flow.  Each dripper head is a screw on head that can be turned up, down or off by turning it and will produce 2 gallons of water an hour if turned all the way up.  The flower garden is watered daily in summer for 5 minutes.

adjustable dripper at flower base

     The sprinkler irrigation for the patch of grass in the back yard enables the sprinklers to shoot the water across the grass.  The grass is watered daily in summer for 7 minutes.  All these schedules are changed every season.  I know it is not environmentally correct to have grass in the desert, but I (and the dog) had to have a patch of green amid all the brown rock mulch.

sprinkler irrigation for grass

     All of the piping for the irrigation systems was put in before any landscaping was done.  The drip system is the most efficient watering system because water is delivered at the base of each tree, bush or plant so no water is lost in evaporation.  The dripper heads all over the yard have to be changed periodically as they become clogged with not only debris but also mineral buildup from the extremely hard water here.

cut-off valves that control water pressure from the street

     Most homeowners use drip irrigation as opposed to hand watering which can be grueling in 110 F (43 C) in the summer.  It also allows the homeowner to be away from home on vacation, etc. in the summer when many plants would die without water for a week in the heat.  Oh, to live in a place where it just.....rains.

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