Many gardeners have been recently turned on to the advantages of using micro flow misting nozzles for irrigation in their flower beds and gardens. What some do not realize when they buy into this technology is that the tiny openings in these micro nozzles can become plugged over time.
So what exactly is a micro flow misting irrigation system? These are newer watering systems which have evolved over recent years to include many of the same components which the larger full sized water systems offer. The advantages are simple they are smaller save water and cost a lot less than their larger cousins.
What parts will I need to make up a system?
Most utilize a main pipe run of 3/4 inch PVC which then has tiny holes drilled into it which the open end of small polypropylene tubing is inserted into. This tubing runs up into the bottom of a miniature spray nozzle which can be attached to a wire frame that is pushed into the soil so the nozzles can be mounted up above the garden. The supply line is connected through an electric valve which is operated on a standard lawn sprinkler timer which allows me to program exactly how often and how long each water cycle will last.
These miniature systems are great for watering flowers trees shrubs and gardens since they can be finely tuned to deliver very exact amounts of water over a specific area. The choices we have for different size and flow nozzles is amazing and each moth it seems they come out with newer and better watering products for growers and gardeners. I am thinking that every small gardener will eventually find out about these incredible little sprinkler systems.
Keeping micro sprinkler heads flowing smoothly to your garden when using well water.
There are a few things to watch out for and if you are not careful then your water flow may trickle down to a sudden stop. Keeping things clean is essential to maintaining good water flow. Interestingly more pressure is not always better due to the design of the micro nozzles. There is a small rubber diaphragm inside which deforms and collapses when the pressure is too low, and these inserts can also blow out of the heads if the pressure is too high. 50 to 70 psi seems to work best for me.
Your water quality can cause problems especially if you are on well water since they can clog with silt, sand, and scale up from the hardness in your well. This becomes even more evident if you have iron in your well water along with some hardness because now the scale that forms is just a hard to remove but now it is reddish and stains your clothes and plants as well.
Filtration is the best thing you can install.
The simplest thing to do for your micro flow sprinklers is to install a decent sized filter in the line leading up to the nozzles. The filter cartridge should be large like 25 or 50 micron to help maintain flow and pressure to your sprinklers. All you are hoping to do with a cartridge is to prevent the large particles of sand and silt from clogging your nozzles.
The cartridge will help remove some of your iron but if this is a big problem then you may consider adding a special iron oxidizing air injection and filtration system before your line out to the garden and other beds. You typically want to stay away from softening since even the small amount of sodium in the water after softening can be damaging to some plants and their roots.
If you have a garden hose that is supplying water to your garden there is a small screen type filter that can be screwed onto the line before the sprinklers and this keeps anything larger than about 100 micron out of the spray heads. I noticed that they need cleaned about once or twice a week but it only takes a minute and the protection it provides is well worth the $15 price tag.
Spares are an old idea that could be new again for you!
You can also allow your water to flow unrestricted and just have a complete spare set of nozzles on hand so you can change them out once in a while and then take the off line set and soak them in a mild rust removing solution. Also you can manually clean them with a cotton swab and some type of bathroom cleaner which contains dilute muriatic acid.
Lastly a simple backwashing iron filter may be the best case for someone who wants low or no maintenance and yet demands high reliability on their water system into their micro sprinkler spray nozzles.
Check these little systems out next time you visit the garden center down the street, I guarantee you will be surprised at the number of useful options that are available.