With a master's in sustainable development, Susette helps Southern California water agencies carry out their water conservation projects.
Why Research Irrigation Supplies?
Most do-it-yourselfers (DIY-ers) who look online for how-tos on irrigation projects are intending to do the job themselves. Other DIY-ers are intending to cost out the job to see if it's worth it to do it themselves, while yet others have no intention of doing it on their own this time, but want to know what a contractor would do, if hired.
No one wants to be ripped off by someone charging too much for services or supplies, hence the availability, quality, and price of parts is key information to have. This article provides resources that the price-conscious DIY-er will find useful. First, we will cover a number of leading manufacturers of irrigation parts and supplies, then a couple of leading parts distributors. Let's start with a definition of irrigation.
How to Define Irrigation
Irrigation is watering plants or crops, using a distribution system that takes water to the roots of the plants. Technically, watering with a hose is irrigation. So is running water through a series of ditches, like many agriculturalists do.
In drier climates, water is usually run through irrigation pipes buried in the ground to minimize evaporation. The water passes through valves, which are controlled by timers and sent to various stations. Each station has a set of sprinklers, rotors, or bubblers that direct water to the plants (or grass). The best systems are turned on and off automatically, using one or more controllers (programmed timers) guided by the weather.
Since irrigation systems work best when they're well maintained, it's a good idea for DIYers to experiment with regular maintenance projects, so they get an idea for what they can do themselves vs. what needs to be hired out. In the process, the DIYer will be building up a basic set of tools and supplies for general maintenance, then acquiring more that are specific to each new project.
Following this are descriptions of several irrigation manufacturers and suppliers, along with the main products they sell.
Hunter specializes in irrigation equipment for the landscaping and golf course industries, and for the upscale homeowner. The company started in 1981, and holds more than 250 product patents and 40 trademarks. Their first product was a compact landscape sprinkler called a "professional gear-driven popup" or PGP. Here is their product listing:
- Pop-up, gear-driven rotors
- Spray sprinklers and bodies
- Broadest lineup of control valves in the industry
- Drip and micro irrigation supplies, including new pressure-compensating emitters
- Smart controllers that base their timing on the weather
- Central controllers, i.e. centralized clock system that runs controllers on several different sites
- Couplers, accessories, tools
Hunter recommends hiring one of their specialists to design the ideal irrigation system for your home. They give many tips on their website as to what to look for. They do not mention DIY projects and do not appear to sell many parts online, except sprinkler heads.
Orbit Irrigation Products
Orbit has been manufacturing and distributing residential and commerical irrigation products since 1986. Orbit is the leader in the DIY irrigation industry, having captured over 60% of the market. They distribute 2,000 products to more than 40 countries, and have production facilities in China, Taiwan, and the United States. Here is a list of their product categories:
- Watermaster sprinkler heads, timers, valves, accessories, and tools
- Dripmaster drip lines and other drip irrigation parts for gardens and trees
- Sunmate sprinklers, timers, nozzles, pistols, and wands—everything that hooks onto the end of a hose
- ArizonaMist misting systems and kits that make a hot day cool
You can buy Orbit products online at Amazon.com and offline at most hardware stores, including Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Target, Costco, Walmart, True Value, Lowes, and more.
Rain Bird Corporation
Rain Bird is a privately held company that was founded in 1933 to make irrigation products. Their 4,000 products and services serve sports arenas, golf courses, farms, commercial developments, and homes. They sell internationally to more than 130 countries.
The company's goal is to manufacture only the best, most water efficient products they can. They want their reputation to be linked with the intelligent use of water, and their vendor and customer partnerships to be long term. They offer irrigation awards, hold summits, and set up film and video competitions about the value and use of water. Their home products include:
- Timers, controllers, valves
- Sprinkler heads—rotors and impact nozzles
- Drip irrigation supplies & kits
- Sprinklers & kits for the end of the hose
- Tools & accessories
- Repair kits & parts
- Advice and help with designing your own irrigation system
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You can buy Rain Bird products online at their website and on Amazon.com, or in offline stores like Home Depot, Ace Hardware, OSH, True Value, and many other hardware stores.
The Toro Company
The Toro Company was created in 1914 and now sells to more than 90 countries worldwide. They have built their business and reputation on trusted customer relationships and constant innovation. Their brands include Toro, Exmark, Lawn-Boy, Irritrol, Lawn Genie, Pope, and Hayter. Each brand has its own website.
Toro sells 70% of their products to professionals (including agriculture) and 29% to residential customers. Their residential products include:
- Rider and walker power mowers
- Snow and leaf blowers, both electric and gas
- Sprayers, trimmers, aerators
- High tech water-saving irrigation systems and parts
Each brand has its online store, but they encourage you to buy in their distributorships offline to get good service and advice.
Valley Irrigation started in 1946, as Valley Manufacturing, building farm elevators. They pioneered the manufacture of computerized pivot systems for irrigating farm crops. A subsidiary of Valmont Industries, Valley Irrigation has a Facebook page and an extensive global network of customers. Here are some of the agricultural irrigation parts and services they offer:
- Center pivots, corners, benders, and linears
- Drive train, flotation and traction tires to match your terrain
- Pumps, sprinklers, and pivot parts
- Professional repairs of all brands of pivots
- A range of control panels, both computerized and not
- Software that enables remote programming from Smart Phone or laptop
- Soil moisture probes with 12 sensors
- Consulting services for farmers in drought management and wastewater solutions
DIY farmers can find Valley supplies by locating one of their dealerships on Valley's website. They do not sell online.
Ewing Irrigation Products
Ewing started as an irrigation distributor in 1922 and now has 195 locations across the United States. They sell products from hundreds of manufacturers, including those above (except Valley). Their products include all kinds of parts and supplies for all kinds of residential, commercial, and industrial piping and landscape projects. They also include water features, lighting, and other decorative products.
You can purchase product online, but you have to log in. To help you purchase supplies, they offer a cash card or charge account. And they have a special partnership program you can check out. You can purchase offline at one of their 195 stores.
Horizon Irrigation Distributors
Horizon was created in 1999 as a merger of two other companies started in the 1960s and 1970s. They are now one of the nation's largest irrigation distributors, with more than 60 locations in 11 states.
Horizon has a catalog of thousands of irrigation, landscape, outdoor living, and equipment products—too many to list here. They provide training videos and toolkits for professionals, along with other services that help professionals succeed. Although they do not sell products online, their website does help you find a local store, and you can download the catalog.
Amazon.com is a huge online distributor of massive amounts of goods, including irrigation supplies. Their online store is very easy to use and buyers often get free shipping. Of the manufacturers above, here are the ones whose products Amazon sells:
- Hunter: Very few items. A hose sprayer, a couple of rotors, a couple of simple irrigation timers.
- Orbit: Lots of things. Sprinkler heads, valves, manifolds, controllers and sensors, repair kits, hose connectors, drip irrigation kits and nozzles, hose sprinklers and sprayers, and more.
- Rain Bird: Lots of things. Sprinkler head packs, rotors, dripline hoses and couplings, as well as kits, elbows and connectors, valves, pressure gauges, controllers, manifolds, fittings, and more.
- Toro: A few sprinkler heads, but mostly equipment, rather than parts.
- Valley: A few nozzles and many hand spray guns.
Where Do the Irrigation Manufacturers Sell?
|Manufacturer||Online||Own Dealers or Distributors||Popular Hardware Stores|
Orbit Irrigation Products
Rain Bird Corporation
The Toro Company
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Susette Horspool (author) from Pasadena CA on February 13, 2014:
Thanks guys! Billybuc, best of luck. Eric, Hydrofarm seems to be a popular seller on Amazon. They've been in business for 35+ years: http://www.hydrofarm.com/index.php
That said, here are a couple more links for you. The first is a great learning site for hydroponics. It has links to different kinds of systems and manufacturers who make them: http://www.hydroponics.net/learn/
This is a manufacturer they don't list, maybe because they started out more commercial (1984): http://www.amhydro.com/
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 13, 2014:
Awesome information. Which would you lean towards for hydroponics?
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 13, 2014:
Good info for anyone into self-sufficiency as I am. Thank you and I promise to put this to good use.