Do It Yourself Landscaping: Irrigations Vs Sprinklers Systems

Explanation of the differences between an irrigation system and a sprinkler system.

A vital part of garden maintenance concerns providing your plants, shrubs, trees and lawn with sufficient water. Two popular ways to do this are irrigation and the sprinkler system.

Irrigation systems are good for targeting plants, shrubbery and trees. These systems water at the ground level, avoiding direct contact of water on flowers and leaves. This can be beneficial because the flowers of some plants, like roses, can become burned if watered via sprinkler. This is because water stays inside the bloom and hovers on the petals, and this liquid, in combination with intense sun, can cause the flower petals to become burned. Additionally, in our water conscious world, it is important to conserve water where we can, and irrigation systems are a very positive step in that direction. In general, an irrigation system should not cause any run-off, therefore no water is wasted.

There are several ways to achieve a low cost irrigation system for a plant bed. One way is to buy from home stores, pharmacies, and chain stores something called a "soaker hose". These hoses, usually a brown to black color to imitate dirt, bark or other plant bed material, are made with numerous perforations that let water trickle out of them directly onto the plant bed. This slower watering process allows the water to nourish the plants without direct contact. Additionally, one can water for a fairly long period of time, achieving "deep watering", which will encourage your plants to send their roots deeper into the ground, over time creating heartier, more established plants. The downside to this system is that the hose needs to pass fairly closely to the base of each plant you want watered, so some planning is needed to ensure that all of your plants will benefit from irrigation.

Any reputable landscaper can also install an irrigation system for you and set it up on timers. The system will basically run itself with very minimal maintenance. The cost of having a system professionally installed varies widely, depending upon where you live, how much irrigation you need, and the companies themselves. It is wise to get several bids to get a feel for the cost before contracting with one company to do it for you.

Sprinkler systems are ideal for watering large expanses, especially lawns. You can install one yourself, or professional landscaping companies will install them for you. They can be put on timers, to water early in the morning or late in the evening, and will even do their job when you are out of town. Generally, one sprinkler is installed in each corner of a rectangular or square shaped patch of lawn, for example, and the sprinkler heads are adjusted to slightly overlap, allowing for full coverage of the area. This system is the best, by far, for keeping those lawns lush and green. All of the supplies for installing a sprinkler system yourself can be found at your local home supply store and installation is not all that difficult, but more complicated than laying out an irrigation system because you have to dig to bury the pipes. There may also be some electrical work involved in hooking up the controller pad.

For your average yard, i.e., plant and shrub beds surrounding a patch of lawn, it is ideal to have both systems in the places they are most useful. Using sprinklers on your lawn, and irrigation on your plant beds is the ideal combination for most climates. Using this combination, water gets where you need it, without excess runoff and water waste, and with minimal damage to tender foliage and blooms that cannot tolerate the force of a sprinkler, or will burn in the hot summer sun if left wet.

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