Drip Irrigation vs. Hand Watering

As glamorous as lugging a hose around the garden sounds, many gardeners are finding that hoses and sprinklers are watering systems of the past. Drip irrigation is now recognized as the most efficient way to water your garden, while saving time and money.  But what is drip irrigation?  It’s a watering system made up of tubes and drippers, where the tubes send water to various parts of the garden, and the drippers allow water to reach the roots without the risk of evaporation or erosion. But is it right for your garden?

It may prove more useful to water a small garden by hand.  Yet for medium to large flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, as well as shrubs and trees – drip irrigation is more effective than anything else.  For one, while hoses and sprinklers deliver large amounts of water at a rapid rate (as much as 100 gallons every 15 minutes!), drip irrigation systems deliver water directly where it is needed; to the root system. When the soil is allowed time to absorb the water, it can decrease the chances of evaporation, run-off, erosion, and puddles. Not to mention, avoiding water waste is environmentally sound.

Another positive? Drip irrigation can save more time than any other system.  When similar plant needs are grouped together, one is able to create a drip irrigation system that will do the work for you. Widely or irregularly spaced plants normally require running ½ inch tubing as a supply line where plants are growing. 1/8 inch tubing can be built for each dripper outlet, providing each plant equal amounts of water for optimal growth. Small or evenly dispersed plants may also require ½ inch tubing, and the dripper may be already built in.  When using a timer, one can easily change the settings to provide more water in the summer months, and less water when it’s cooler.

Once the irrigation system is installed, you’ll find the maintenance a real breeze. Daily, you may want to check the tubing for leaks, and ensure the system is working properly.  Yet, most tasks can be done weekly, or even seasonally.  This may require more extensive checking for damage, adding and adjusting emitters as plants grow, and changing the watering timers as the weather changes.  In the wintertime, drip irrigation may need to be turned off completely to avoid damage.

Something to think about: Researchers claim that if every American used drip irrigation for their home garden, there would be a significant drop in demand for fresh water in cities and towns. This means tax dollars could fund other projects and necessities in your area. Why not do your part?

Do you use a drip irrigation at home? What system works best for your garden?


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