Introduction and What to Expect in this Course

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Welcome to Drip Design by Checklist! Here's how you're going to become a champion drip designer in a very short time:

Drip design is a complex undertaking! Check out any drip design course or design guide created by either the Irrigation Association, irrigation supply distributors (like Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply), or irrigation manufacturers, and you'll find deeply complex instruction that requires you to attend to many factors in the designing of drip systems. For even the most diligent student, designing hydraulically correct and robust drip systems requires a lot of time and focus to get it right.

My challenge in this course is to simplify this process in such a way that busy professionals cannot only easily understand it, but actually use the process in their drip design and installation practice. I have distilled out the most important factors that need to be considered and addressed for your drip systems to function correctly.

I've been teaching drip to landscape professionals since 2008. I feel like I've taught it so many times now, that I have a feel for what is understood and practiced in the trade, and what is not. Also, as an irrigation consultant, I've been called out to troubleshoot hundreds of drip zones that have failed, or never worked from the start. And in my own drip design practice, I've designed and installed fabulously successful drip systems.

This course is the result of all those years of designing, teaching, and consulting about drip.

What method of drip are we learning in this course?

We will be learning about and designing drip grids in this course. Drip grids are the most efficient way to drip landscape plants. With my extensive experience with designing, installing, maintaining, and consulting about drip, I've come to the obvious conclusion that point source drip doesn't work over the long haul. When I say point source drip, I mean placing individual devices on or near the individual plants in a spot-watering fashion. Point source drip systems MUST be added to and adjusted over time as the plants grow, and this almost never happens in the real world.

So, providing an infrastructure that provides for the mature garden from the first day makes the most sense. And uniform watering methods make the most sense, as well. We know that the epitome of watering strategies is what Mother Nature provides - rain. And in the irrigation world, sprinklers provide that same strategy. But once the plants grow tall enough to block the sprinklers, they might as well not even be there.

So we settle on a method that covers the soil completely and uniformly, like rain, without getting blocked by anything. This is drip grids.

I'm introducing a new type of drip grid in this course that will hopefully bring more installers on board with using grids. This method is point source grids. These grids will be set up just like line source grids, except instead of emitterline tubing that has the emitters built in, you would use blank tubing, and install button emitters in the same configuration emitterline tubing would have. This allows you to install as few or as many emitters at planting time as you wish. And it's easy to run 1/4" tubing over to plant root balls if need be, to get plants established. Just plug the 1/4" tube into the button emitter. Once the plants get established, you can add emitters onto the blank tubing to coax the roots out further. See "Choosing a Drip Method" in Step 3 of this course.

What will I learn?

By the end of this course, you will have the tools, knowledge, and the confidence to "design" high-functioning drip systems that provide just the right amount of water to ensure healthy, thriving plants, soil, and beneficial soil microbes.

My mission in creating this course is to empower you to design and create easy-to-understand specifications for drip systems that are hydraulically sound, function perfectly, and provide just the right amount of water in just the right place, and at just the right time. Impeccable drip systems are in your future, my friend.

Here are some common drip failings that I see regularly:

  • Drip that is not hydraulically correct, and either barely works or doesn't work at all.
  • Drip grid configurations (emitter flow, spacing and row spacing that are incorrect for the soil type on the property.
  • Too few emitters for mature plants where one or two emitters were installed on each plant when they were new, but more emitters were never added as the plants grew.

How is this course different from the Mastering Drip Design Course?

My Mastering Drip Design course was created specifically for landscape professionals working with to-scale landscape plans. This course is for professionals who want to design in the field and not at a drafting table or a computer. We'll leave behind the computers and software, and generate sound irrigation system specifications.

We'll walk through a four-step process with a checklist to gather important site data, and generate custom specifications for implementing drip systems on any given site. We'll focus on what matters most, and set you up to design successful drip systems. Even though this design process is less formal and less detailed than creating a to-scale irrigation plan, we'll still pay close attention to the crucial elements of design that either make or break a drip system.

What will we design in this course?

We're going to plan the irrigation for a real-life project that has a landscape design and needs the irrigation designed. The site is an existing water-efficient demonstration garden that has fallen into disrepair.

The course follows the workbook all the way through, addressing each element in each step of this four-step process.

How will the course be run?

The learning is totally self-paced. The course was originally designed to be taken before an in-person workshop.

You don't need to go through the lessons sequentially. You can hop around, if you wish. But each lesson builds on the prior one, so hopping around could potentially cause confusion.

What if I have questions?

If you have any questions or comments, each lesson has a Comment section below the content. I'll be watching for your questions. I'm committed to responding as my schedule allows, Monday through Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (Pacific time). If you'd rather not have your comment or question be public, you're welcome to email me during these same hours at [email protected].

What will I be creating?

If you dedicate yourself to stepping with me through the process and filling in the workbook as you go, you will create a hydraulically sound, line-source drip design for each of the drip zones in this phase of the landscape project.

What materials or tools do I need?

The course is set up so that you could cruise through without any tools or materials, if you choose to do so, filling in the numbers and information that I provide for you. However, I do recommend that you plug in a project of your own that needs a drip design generated. If you follow along, plugging in your own project as well, you'll likely want to obtain a pressure gauge that screws onto a hose bib.

Access to the internet

At times during this process, you'll be referred to web apps and online resources to make your irrigation design tasks easier. I use several of them in my work as an irrigation designer. Most of these apps are free, and a good number of them were created by me.

Course workbook

You are provided with a PDF workbook that I created for this course. You'll use it to follow along through the four steps of this drip design process. Please download it and print at least pages 1 through 4. Those are the pages you'll be filling out for this project. The workbook can then be used repeatedly to process your future projects. The PDF is also fillable, meaning you can fill it out electronically, if you wish.

Time to go to school!

Complete and Continue