Irrigation... a Very Hot Topic

with Vectorworks Landmark

We have all been enjoying the hot dry weather over the last few weeks including the hottest day since summer 2006! After yet another long cold winter and spring the warmer weather has been greatly appreciated by all. Farmers are merrily going about their hay making, garden centers and nurseries have been busy with plant sales and many of our customers are busy designing beautiful gardens and landscapes.

I too have been enjoying the hot weather, except for the daily evening chore of watering the garden. Even the latest thundery downpours have not provided my veg plants with enough water. On many evenings the chore has slipped my mind and I am out in the dark, watering by moonlight, my neighbour’s curtains twitching to see “What on earth that girl is up to now?”

So, although I love my new garden and I am very excited about my designs for it, I am seriously considering designing in an irrigation system. Water is yet another natural resource that requires both careful management and thought to environmental and cost issues. It is a resource that is often scarce when needed and found in abundance when not! For this reason many irrigation systems run from a mains water supply. However designers may also develop schemes where harvested water can be incorporated into the design. This can reduce both cost to the client and the impact on the environment.

Naturally, being a Vectorworks trainer my mind wandered to thinking how I could use Vectorworks to help me develop my irrigation plan. With a little research and college notes to hand I set about designing a demo garden to demonstrated the irrigation tools Vectorworks has to offer and how best to use these tools.

Irrigation_Tools_Large_Thumb.pngFirst, a little work needs to be done researching the preferred system and collecting information about your site. There are many irrigation products on the market—everything from home DIY kits of porous pipe systems to drip delivery systems where micro and mini sprinkler fittings are used. Pumps are installed into the irrigation system to move water around the scheme and to supply each emitter or spray head.

The network of pipes and fittings are linked up to a control panel which manages the amount of water used, and handily for people like me, controls the time and duration of irrigation.

When designing an irrigation system it is important to give careful consideration to the following:

  • The climate, not only temperatures but wind conditions too.
  • Soil type and the rate at which it can accept water.
  • The flow of water (cubic metres per hour or litres per second).
  • The working pressure of water on the site,

Irrigation systems must also comply with water supply regulations, where back-flow protection needs to be implemented to protect the mains water supply from any chemical additives.

In the accompanying Vectorworks demo file I started by looking at the garden design and how it could be best divided into watering zones. The zones form the sections of the irrigation system, and show the designer where they need to get water to. The main aim here is to position the sprinklers or irrigation heads so that all areas that need watering get the correct coverage.

Once the zones have been identified it is best to begin by laying out the sprinklers in difficult areas first. These are areas which are odd or complex in shape, contain obstructions or have restricted access. To place the sprinklers onto my pIan I used the Irrigation Head tool, from the Site Planning tool set. Within the Irrigation Head Tool Preferences, I can specify the Manufacturer, Model, Spay pattern as well as the Spray Arc radius or if it is a rectangular spray pattern, the width and length. These settings allow the user to display any chosen sprinkler fitting with the correct data attached.

In my smaller, narrower planting areas I have decided to use drip irrigation. To show this in my Vectorworks irrigation plan I have used the Drip Emitter tool, from the Site Planning tool set. This tool is similar to the Irrigation Head tool, however the preferences are adapted for this type of fixture, for example the Head Style and the Spray Nozzle can be set for the fixture that you are using.

Once all of the fixtures have been placed on the design, it is time to connect them up and group them into valve circuits or laterals. This shows how the pipework will need to be laid out around the site and how it will join the main irrigation line. To display this on the plan, I have used the Irrigation Line tool from the Site Planning toolset. In this demo file I have a main line, laterals and drip lines. To show the differences between these lines I have set up three different classes, each with different 2D attributes to help distinguish them on the drawing. The main irrigation line has a dark blue fill, the laterals a pale turquoise and the drip lines are yellow. There isn’t a specific valve tool in Vectorworks, so I have made my own simple 2D symbol with data attached in a record. By adding data to my valve symbol I can include it in a report. By creating my own symbol I have complete control over the 2D graphical qualities of the valve and I can attach whatever data I need to it.

To complete the plan I chose my control panel and marked it on the drawing with a simple black rectangular symbol. Again I can attach specific data to this symbol and add it to my irrigation schedule.

After much research from sites such as the UK Irrigation Association and the UK Water Legislation, and many calculations I arrived at my Irrigation plan, designed using Vectorworks irrigation tools. You can download a sample Vectorworks 2013 file here.


This entry was posted in Vectorworks Software and Training and tagged:
environment, Garden, hot summer, irrigation, Landmark, Landscape Design, management, Vectorworks, water

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