Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Landscape Irrigation Works


Landscape Irrigation Pumps and Sprinklers

Words to Ponder
Conserving water is green and has been for more than a century. In an address to Congress in 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt cautioned, "To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed" [source: Mcdilda].

The power is in the pump! A less than optimal pump means less than optimal pressure to the sprinkler head, resulting in anemic water flow. Choosing the best pump is critical. When you're looking at pumps, consider one of two types: positive displacement pumps or Roto dynamic pumps. Positive displacement pumps are low-volume pumps. Within the pump, a displacer moves into the cylinder, allowing the water to enter and leave through sprinkler valves.

Roto dynamic pumps give energy to moving water through a rotating impeller. The system may use a turbine pump, an electro-submersible pump, or a jet sprinkler.

Sprinkler heads also come in two major types: rotors and spray heads. If you've seen rotating streams of water on a lawn, you know about rotors. Older, impact rotors tend to be distinctive for the noise they make, though newer rotors are gear-driven, smaller and quieter. Fixed spray heads work like a shower nozzle, sending out a fan-shaped spray.

When selecting a sprinkler head, consider the size of the area that needs to be watered. Spray heads are the better option for most yards. Rotors cost more per sprinkler, so even though they are spaced at greater distances than spray heads, they aren't economical. Generally, choose a pop-up head of at least three inches (7.62 cm) for the sake of both appearance and safety [source: Stryker].

Position sprinklers according to zones. Take into account both physical features and sun exposure.

Suppose you've had both great fun and success with your landscape irrigation plans. Friends, neighbors and family members are asking you for help. Is it time to make this a profitable hobby, or even a new career? Move on to the next page to learn about becoming certified in landscape irrigation.