Lawn Maintenance: Drip Irrigation Systems Vs Other Alternatives

Drip irrigation systems delivers water a drop at a time. Learn about how these systems work compared to alternative watering methods.

Delivering the correct amount of water to a specified area in your yard or garden is the goal of a well-managed irrigation system. There are many methods that can be used to achieve this objective. One of them is drip irrigation. Drip irrigation systems delivers water a drop at a time wherever it is needed, specifically at the root of the plants. Some of these systems can also be configured to mist and provide humidity.

There are three types of drip irrigation systems. The first utilizes a thin plastic tube that runs through the garden and from it are attached thinner tubes that terminate in emitters. These emitters are plastic nozzles that allow the water to escape as a trickle. There should be one nozzle for each plant. The second system consists of plastic lines that cross the garden back and forth and contains in-line nozzles that are placed at regular intervals. This second system is not as precise as the first but is easier to install. The third system consists of a dual-chambered hose. The water is routed through a larger hose that fills with water and then fills a smaller tube under equalized pressure. Holes in this tube emit water at an even rate. This system can be buried underground or hidden under layers of mulch. However care should be taken when you dig in the garden to avoid accidental damage to the hoses. Drip irrigation systems can be installed with timers, which allows you to deliver water at specific times. The systems also adapt easily to variations in the landscape and can be used in containers.

Drip irrigation systems can reduce water usage by up to 50%. It applies the essential amount of water gradually, decreasing the chances of puddle or runoff problems. Since drip irrigation targets the exact area where you want the water, you will be able to avoid random watering.

This is unlike other watering methods such as conventional sprinkler systems. Although sprinklers are more economical and easier to install, they tend to be wasteful and not precise. On very hot days the water from sprinkler systems can also evaporate before reaching the ground.

Sprinklers are also prone to create flooding and water logging since gardeners tend to leave them unsupervised for long periods of time.

Other alternative watering systems are sprinkler and soaker hoses. Sprinkler hoses are designed to lie on top of the surface and spray water from holes. Sprinkler hoses apply water in a shower rather than a trickle. They do not drown plants but they lack the penetration and precision of drip irrigation systems.

Soaker hoses are porous and can be buried under mulch. Soaker hoses leak small amounts of water slowly and directly to the roots of specific plants. They can be quite efficient in delivering small amounts of water to plants. However, soaker hoses are not easily adaptable to the landscape. They cannot be used for containers. Soaker hoses might also deliver uneven amounts of water if they are not placed on flat ground. This problem can be avoided if short runs of hoses are used and if the hoses are run along contour lines. Rubber soaker hoses can last for many years.

Drip irrigation systems are subject to restrictions and regulations in some areas. You should check your county office to determine if this might be applicable to your neighborhood. Drip irrigation eliminates a lot of watering problems but is not feasible for use on lawns. Although the systems are efficient, they are also more expensive to purchase and install when compared to sprinklers, sprinkler hoses, and soaker hoses.

Choosing drip irrigation or an alternative watering system will depend on your watering needs. It will also depend on how important cost, rate of delivery, and efficiency factors into your decision. One or all of these systems will be a vast improvement over hand watering and it will also increase the yield and beauty of your garden.

© High Speed Ventures 2011