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Glossary of Terms

The irrigation industry uses a unique vocabulary in its products and services. Listed below are the key terms you need to know.

  • Rotary Heads — Typically shoot a single large stream in a constant motion ranging from 10 to 360 degrees. There are two types of rotary heads: impact-driven and gear-driven. Impact heads have the longest range and a higher precipitation rate. Gear-driven heads can cover large areas as well, but their precipitation rate is generally lower. Gear-driven heads are less noisy.
  • Fixed or Adjustable Spray Heads — Spray heads usually consist of two parts, the body and the nozzle. They are more common in residential irrigation as opposed to commercial. They cover a radius of 5-15 ft. by producing a spray mist.
  • MP Rotators — MP rotators are a hybrid between a rotor and a spray head. They shoot five streams in constant motion ranging from 10 to 360 degrees. This type of emitter can cover a large range, featuring an 8-30 ft. irrigation radius. MP rotators have a lower precipitation rate which allows your soil more time to absorb the water before you lose it to run off. MP rotators conserve more water than spray heads, and are are less likely to be disrupted by wind.
  • Drip Irrigation — Drip irrigation is a sub-surface slow emitting applicator. It has very low precipitation rates and delivers water slowly over longer periods of time. They target specific plants without wasting water on unnecessary areas. Drip irrigation is most commonly used in flower beds, shrubs, vegetable gardens, and slow absorbing soils. In Texas, it is also required by code to use drip irrigation in areas that have a width of 4 ft. or less. An area that commonly uses drip irrigation is the patch of grass between a sidewalk and a street.
  • Bubblers — Bubblers generate a lot of water in a small area, allowing watering to flow out like an open ended hose. They are commonly used for newly planted trees.
  • Controllers &mdash The controller is the brain of the sprinkler system. There are many types of controllers with a large array of features. The most common is an automatic controller that can be mounted indoors or outdoors. There are many different types of automatic controllers with features suitable for a variety applications.
  • Back-flow Device — Back-flow prevention devices protect the main potable water supply from unwanted water in your irrigation system. Most municipalities require a backflow device. In the city of Austin and its surrounding areas, there are two main types used, a double-check and an above ground RPZ.
  • Valves — A valve acts as a small door that opens and closes when the sprinkler system controller requests it. Each irrigation system zone has a coordinating valve. When a controller sends the signal to water a certain zone, the valve receives that signal and allows water into the system through its designated area.
  • PVC Pipe — PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a lightweight hard plastic pipe that has been around since the 1930’s. It is commonly used to carry water in underground systems. Up until recently, PVC was the pipe of choice for homes, sprinkler systems, and other water systems.
  • Blu-Lock Pipe — Blu-Lock piping is a flexible pipe that is more durable, more flexible, and more environmentally friendly than PVC pipe. It is used just like PVC, but offers many advantages.