As we’ve discussed recently, water on leaves can allow diseases to flourish. Quite often, this water doesn’t come from rain, but from people watering their flowers and lawn with sprinklers, hoses, and watering cans. Unfortunately, many of the folks that water their plants and lawn are delivering the water in an inefficient method. Drip irrigation may be the answer to watering issues, for gardens of all sizes and composition.
What is Drip Irrigation?
Drip irrigation is a form of irrigation that delivers water close to the surface of the ground, allowing the water to drip directly to soil surface surrounding the plant or the root zone. It relies on pipes and hoses running along ground level, avoiding the water being released onto empty ground and being concentrated on the plant itself.
The Advantages of Using Drip Irrigation
There are a number of advantages in employing drip irrigation over other forms of irrigation such as impact sprinklers and hand watering.
- Efficiency: Drip irrigation has demonstrated itself to be around 90% efficient in delivering water to the plant, while other irrigation systems generally are in the 50-70% efficiency range. This allows drip irrigation to use 30% less water while delivering the same outcome, which can be necessary for drought-inclined areas.
- Flexibility: Drip irrigation is easy to form to fit any shape or size of garden. While systems such as sprinklers have set areas of effect, drip irrigation is flexible and can be arranged to fit any layout, so you can position and move plants as needed. The hoses are flexible enough to be circled around plants that need the maximum amount of water possible. They can also accommodate for changes in elevation better than other forms of irrigation.
- Localization: The application of water so close to the ground helps to prevent soil erosion from water falling from a height, which keeps the soil intact. The local application of water versus a widespread application also helps to prevent fertilizer and nutrient runoff.
- Regulation with Minimal Labor: Each section of irrigation can be adjusted to regulate water flow, and it is simple to regulate, so it will also reduce the amount of labor needed to keep it running.
- Reduction of the Likelihood of Diseases: Many of the common diseases that attack garden plants come from water on the leaves and stems. Drip irrigation keeps the water from being applied directly to these sensitive areas while ensuring an adequate supply.
Problems with Drip Irrigation
As with anything, there are always negatives. While drip irrigation is likely the best irrigation option available today, there are still some negative aspects to be aware of:
- Tubing Issues: With the tubes of drip irrigation systems running so close to the ground, they often become target for rodents to gnaw on. They also will dry and crack in harsh sun. The main ongoing cost in a drip irrigation system will be the replacement of plastic tubing over time.
- Clogging: The tubes and the emitter heads that are used in drip irrigation are often miniscule, and are easily clogged. They need to be checked and cleared on a consistent basis.
So if you’re looking for a more effective, more efficient way to get water to your thirsty plants, drip irrigation is about the best way to do it. A system is fairly simple to set up and maintain, and will save the homeowner work and money, while helping them to further their garden.