10.11.12Kelly Duke

Drip Conversion – Variations on a Theme

Xeri-Bird in a Box Locate the multi-port emitter, shown here in an access box. Dig up the box, and remove the emitter body and tubes.Install a Tee on the Drip Conversion Kit Install a Tee and transition fittings on the outlet of the Drip Conversion Kit, set to grade, then connect the drip emitter lines.

Further Adventures in Drip Conversion:

In my last post I wrote about converting from individual point source emitters to a drip emitter line in a portion of my yard .  That project was relatively easy in that each of my two parkway areas were already partially irrigated by an emitter line system.  All I had to do was modify the existing supply header and add new drip lines to extend to the underserved end of each parkway where I installed a terminal manifold and automatic flush valve.

The full conversion of my yard to a drip emitter line system is far from over.  In this post I will describe the process I used for converting a smaller, odd-shaped area from point-source emitters to drip emitter line.  This area did not lend itself to long straight runs.  As a result, the sleeving technique I noted in my prior post was of little help in guiding the drip tube under existing shrubs.  Rather, this would call for taping the end of the drip tube and working it under the shrubs, through the mulch, by hand.

You may recall my mentioning that when I removed my lawn, out of laziness, my drip conversion had initially converted my lawn pop-up spray sprinklers to multi-port drip emitters using Rain Bird’s 1800 Drip Conversion Kits.  Each one contains a filter screen and a pressure regulator.  For the current phase my decision was been to removed the Xeri-Bird 8-outlet emitter and install a tee fitting that would allow me to connect the new drip emitter line directly to the 1800 body..  The primary steps being as follows:

  • Dig up the access box that covers each 1800 Drip Conversion Kit and its multi-port emitter.
  • Wear gloves while doing because the access box seems to attract nasty and potentially venomous critters such as Black Widow spiders
  • Dig up the access box (you won’t need this.  save it for some other use)
  • Remove the multi-port emitter and gather up all of the quarter-inch distribution tubing, and stakes, etc. presently routed to the individual plants throughout the area.
  • Install a tee fitting to the outlet at the top of the 1800 Drip Conversion Kit.
  • Re-set the 1800 body flush with the grade such that the new tee fitting is slightly above the surrounding soil
  • Attach the drip emitter line to the tee using insert adapters
  • Rinse and repeat

The original lawn pop-ups were all at the outboard perimeter of the planter area.  Thus, my first run of drip emitter line circumnavigated the bed.  I then measured and cut-in insert tees to create roughly parallel runs of emitter line throughout the bed.  The odd shape led to a creative layout resembling a grading plan or perhaps a Jerry Garcia tie.

I have been leaving the drip emitter line on the surface for ease of inspection and maintenance with the intent of covering it with much once I finish the overall conversion project.

At the corner furthest from the main supply line to this zone I removed one of the 1800 units completely and installed an automatic flush valve in a below-grade box.  This allows the system to purge contaminants at the start of each irrigation system.  Some would argue that this does not allow for an adequate flush of the system but since my zones are small, it appears to do the job in my situation.

The Xeri Bird emitters did a great job for the many years they were in operation, delivering water efficiently to the individual plants.  The soil between the individual emitter points however tended to get very dry and very hard and appeared to hinder plant root growth.  Also, they were not necessarily able to support the volunteer seedlings that we favor in our “natures half acre” / “primordial forest” approach to gardening.

 K. F. Duke

“A little water clears us of this deed.”

            – Shakespear, Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 12, 1.68

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Kelly Duke

Not many people can say that they have dedicated their life to the landscape industry. Kelly Duke can. His diverse background ranging from maintenance to estimating, to design, along with a passionate commitment to his trade has given Kelly a lifecycle perspective to landscaping. As the leader of the ValleyCrest’s Pre-Construction Services team, he analyzes early conceptual designs to determine whether or not and how they can be built within budget while meeting long-term design and maintenance goals. Many of the projects that come across Kelly’s desk require he examine the cost and savings of baseline water use in comparison to high efficiency alternatives.


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  1. [...] While I appreciate the life lesson my daughter learned the hard way, the reality is only so much water can be conserved in the shower. Her extra 5 minutes likely used less than 10 gallons of water. Irrigation zones use 15 – 35 gallons or more per minute. In the same 10 minute time frame an irrigation zone will distribute 150 – 350 gallons of water. Still take short showers, but to make a big contribution to water conservation be sure your irrigation system includes the best conservation tools like smart controllers, flow sensors, rotary nozzles and drip irrigation. [...]

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