Colorado Springs Irrigation

Irrigation is the artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance oflandscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall. Additionally, irrigation also has a few other uses in crop production, which include protecting plants against frost, suppressing weed growing in grain fields and helping in preventing soil consolidation. Could Colorado Springs irrigation be beneficial for your home?

Drip Colorado Springs Irrigation for Home Gardens

  • People interested in water-wise gardening should consider drip irrigation.
  • Odd-shaped and narrow areas are easily irrigated with drip systems.
  • Drip irrigation stretches water supplies and may be exempt from water restrictions imposed during drought..
  • Drip irrigation equipment is readily available and can easily be installed by do-it-yourselfers.

Drip, or micro-irrigation, technology uses a network of plastic pipes to carry a low flow of water under low pressure to plants. Water is applied much more slowly than with sprinkler irrigation.

Drip irrigation exceeds 90 percent efficiency whereas sprinkler systems are 50 to 70 percent efficient. It is so efficient that many water utilities exempt landscapes irrigated with drip from restrictions during drought. Note that any irrigation system is only as efficient as the watering schedule used. If systems are set to water excessively, any system including drip can waste water.

Micro-irrigation systems are more widely available and better designed for use in home gardens than ever before. Traditionally used for growing commercial vegetables, orchards, windbreaks, greenhouse and nursery plants, micro-irrigation systems are well-adapted for home use. Use them in landscapes, vegetable and flower gardens and for small fruits. They are well-suited to irrigate container plants as well. When combined with a controller, drip irrigation systems can be managed with ease.

Colorado Springs Drip Irrigation Advantages

Drip irrigation delivers water slowly immediately above, on or below the surface of the soil. This minimizes water loss due to runoff, wind and evaporation. Drip irrigation can be operated during the windy periods frequently seen in Colorado.

The mold spots on house siding and the staining and deterioration of wood privacy fences experienced with overspray from sprinkler irrigation is eliminated with the use of drip. Because water doesn’t leave the landscape with drip irrigation, pavement deterioration associated with sprinkler irrigation runoff is eliminated.

Properties with old, galvanized steel water service lines where corrosion has resulted in a narrowed diameter may benefit from a retrofit to drip irrigation. The low volume requirements of drip irrigation are a good match with restricted supply lines.

Drip systems can be managed with an AC or battery powered controller. Automated landscape irrigation is an advantage to many people with busy lifestyles.

Adaptable and changeable over time, drip systems can be easily expanded to irrigate additional plants if water is available. Emitters can be simply exchanged or removed and emitter lines eliminated or repositioned. When plants are removed or die, drip lines should be plugged..

Colorado Springs Drip Irrigation Disadvantages

If emitters are poorly placed, too far apart or too few in number, root development may be restricted by the limited soil area wetted. Water seeping at ground level is hard to see and makes it difficult to know if the system is working properly. An indicator device that raises and lowers a flag to show when water is flowing is available to overcome this issue.

Regular maintenance inspections are needed to maintain system effectiveness—the same as with high pressure sprinkler systems. Clogs are much less likely with filtered water and proper pressure regulation used in combination with self-cleaning emitters.

Drip tubing can be a trip hazard especially for dogs and children but is less problematic if covered with mulch and fastened with wire anchor pins every 2 to 3 feet. Drip lines can also be easily cut while undertaking other landscape maintenance activities.


There are two types of emitters: pressure sensitive and pressure compensating. Pressure sensitive emitters deliver a higher flow at higher water pressures. Pressure compensating emitters provide the same flow over a wide pressure range. More products made in recent years are pressure compensating. Turbulent flow and diaphragm emitters are non-plugging. Emitters can be attached into the mainline or placed on the ends of ¼ inch microtubes. Because emitters are generally color-coded by flow rates, purchase all emitters from one manufacturer because color codes differ among manufacturers.

Emitter tubing is useful for closely spaced plants. Turbulent flow emitters are manufactured into the mainline at pre-set spacings. Spacings in ¼ inch tubing are typically 6, 12 or 24 inches. A wider range of spacings are available in ½ inch tubing, including 9, 12,18, 24, 36 or 48 inches. The in-line emitters are self-flushing and clog resistant as long as system water filtration with 200 mesh filters is used. Emitter tubing irrigates evenly over its entire length. Laser tubing and soaker hoses have holes in tubes but do not contain emitter devices for precise metering of water; the amount of water released varies along their length making them less satisfactory for maintaining plants.

Bubblers are devices that emit higher flows of water in a circular pattern. They are useful for irrigating larger plants such as roses and shrubs, and for filling basins around newly planted trees or shrubs. Some can be adjusted for flows from 0 to 35 gph.

Microsprays emit large droplets or fine streams of water just above the ground. They are available with nozzles in full, half and quarter circle patterns that wet diameters varying from 18 inches to 12 feet. They should be placed on a separate zone from other drip devices because of their greater water use that can vary from 7 to 25 gph. Fewer microsprays can be placed on a zone than emitters due to their high flow rates.

These devices are low pressure but share characteristics with high pressure sprinklers. Pop-up micro-sprayers are now available, eliminating a permanent irrigation riser in the garden. They are not as efficient as ground-applied water from drip emitters and care must be used to avoid over-pressurization and misting.

Misters and foggers are not recommended for landscape use.

Operating the system

Systems are generally designed to operate for one hour of run time per week after plant establishment. Adjust emitter sizes and numbers accordingly. Watering twice per week may be required after planting on sandy soils or on plants requiring regularly moist soil. However, for native or xeric plants that don’t grow well on regularly moist soils, operate the system weekly or every couple weeks on established plants and let soil dry out in between. Such plants include pinyon pine, Apache plume, Nepeta, Centranthus, most Penstemons, Artemesia and many Salvias.

Consider soil type, plant water require-ments and season when setting and adjusting irrigation times. More water will be required in peak summer heat than in cooler spring and fall temperatures so change run times accordingly.

Irrigate Xeric perennials initially with 1 gallon per week. Extend the time between watering once established. Equip perennials and annuals using moderate amounts of water with emitters or emitter tubing to receive 2 gallons per week.

A shrub the size of a plant growing in a 5 gallon nursery container should receive 4 to 6 gallons weekly. Add more emitters per plant for higher water using shrubs and reduce the emitter flow size for more xeric shrubs. Large shrubs may require 10 to 12 gallons of water weekly. Monitor the soil moisture to check that you are not overwatering as too much water kills many newly planted plants.

Established trees may require up to 10 gallons weekly per inch of trunk diameter. For example, a tree with a 2-inch trunk diameter may require 15 to 20 gallons per week (2 in. diameter x 10 gals/diameter inch = 20 gallons). With a compact root ball at planting, amounts to water new trees are less than established trees with a wide-ranging root system. For a new-planted “whip,” 1 to 2 gallons per week are often sufficient. For a 1 inch caliper new-planted tree, 6 to 8 gallons weekly is an initial target amount. For a 2 inch caliper tree, consider 10 to 12 gallons weekly at planting.

Use the above guidelines as a rough initial guide and then check the soil moisture at the rooting depth of the plant the following day. Adjust irrigation run times accordingly.

Overwatering with drip systems is common, especially with manually operated systems. To avoid this, use a mechanical or electronically operated controller. Do not run a drip system overnight with the thought that water is applied very slowly.

Properly prepare your soil by mixing in a soil amendment before installing the drip system and plants. Overwatering on a poorly drained soil that was not well-prepared commonly kills plants.

Colorado Springs Irrigation Maintenance

Before irrigating for the first time in spring, you need to sprinkler blowout. During the growing season, periodically check and clean emitters for proper operation. Flush the system thoroughly after a break and repairs to avoid emitter clogging. Clean the filter more often if using well or pond water and less often if using municipal water.

Winterization tasks for drip systems are minimal. Detach the head assembly, which consists of the control valve (if portable), backflow prevention device, filter and pressure regulator and store indoors for winter.

Uncap the mainline to drain, especially if an emitter is not located at the low point in the system, then re-cap. Poly mainline will not be damaged by freezing. Systems with many right angle fittings may retain water and require pressurized air to blow out. Most emitters store well outdoors over winter and only occasional replacement is necessary. If check valves are present, use care to drain the system and blow it out. 

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