Water Me: Irrigation Basics

Class: Irrigation Basics

Our yard/garden/plants/piles of dirt think that I’ve been a bit stingy with the water over the past few years, and the survivors are staging a rebellion right now. The weeds, on the other hand, are totally satisfied with the status quo. Lots of water, no water–they don’t care. They are fond of our yard no matter what I do to it.

For you, the word “yard” may evoke images of a lawn. We no longer have a lawn because that would imply green grass, and the grass died because I didn’t give it enough water last summer. After our four feet of snow melted this spring, I discovered that what’s left are some trees, shrubs, plants, and some dirt  — my contribution to a neighborhood with many grassy yards. This is the desperate stage where our remaining vegetation must survive, and for that it will need consistent and automatic water.

My Irrigation Basics class helped confirm an important realization: our existing sprinkler system needs to be repaired, reworked, and expanded to maximize its efficiency. I’m relying on the information from this Lifelong Learning class to keep my boyfriend and I from feeling overwhelmed with the project.



Previously our system was set up to water a lawn, juniper bushes, and an arbor vitae. I ripped out the bushes and arbor vitae a few years ago and, as mentioned before, killed the grass. The plan for future front yard includes hardscaping, edible plants, low-water plants, shrubs, and trees, and a 10 x 15 patch of drought-tolerant grass.

Our instructor, John, demonstrated a lot of options to consider for irrigation and helped our class with maintenance and repair questions. One of the most significant points for me was that I should take a step back and plan the new system for current water needs as well as future water needs. Normally I think putting projects on paper is part of the fun, but without this class, I probably would have just started digging.


  • Here’s my irrigation shopping list:
  • 50 feet of pipe
  • 6 Ts and 4 elbows
  • 1 shut-off valve
  • 5 emitters
  • 2 electric valves
  • 100 feet of drip line
  • new controller with automatic weather-adjusting capability and manual remote control from my smart phone
  • a utility vehicle just like our instructor has (for Brainfueling parades around the neighborhood or Red Butte Garden)

Look for me in aisle 13 of the home improvement store.