drip sprinklers

Effective Uses of Drip Sprinklers

This summer has been an unusually hot summer here in the Western United States. To make matters worse, it was preceded by an unusually dry winter. Without the usual snowfall and subsequent runoff to fill our reservoirs water has truly become a scarce resource. Many cities have issued guidelines to help landowners conserve water. Sometimes this only allows homeowners to water their property as little as only twice a week. It can be hard to keep your backyard looking lush and green when there are so many limitations on watering. One solution for your flower bed and vegetable gardens maybe found in the form of drip sprinklers. There are lots of instances when drip sprinklers are a more practical choice than traditional sprinklers. This article will go over the differences between drip sprinklers and traditional sprinklers and the uses for each type of sprinkler system.

Different Irrigation Systems

There are three main ways to water your plants: traditional sprinkler systems, drip sprinkler systems, and hand watering. There are obvious pros and cons to each type of sprinkler system. Choosing the irrigation system best suited for your needs will save you time, water, and money in the long run. You can use whichever system will work best for your particular needs, or even a combination of all three.

drip sprinklers, drip irrigation system

Pros and Cons of Hand Watering

Hand watering may be the easiest way to bring water to a plant, but it is also the most labor intensive. Hand watering is as simple as filling a watering can with water or attaching a spray nozzle to the end of a garden hose. It is effective because you have a lot of control on where you water and how much water your plants receive. There is no maintenance involved in hand watering because there is no system to up keep. However, this means that hand watering can become tedious and time consuming for the user. Hand watering is best used on container gardening or indoor plants. If you are using a garden hose with an attachment you can cover flower beds or larger areas of lawn that may need a little extra TLC.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Sprinkler Systems

There are actually many types of traditional sprinklers you can use to water your property. Some are in ground systems that need to be buried, while some are simple attachments that you can place at the end of a garden hose. Sprinklers systems can be manual or automatic. Manual sprinkler systems have a valve that needs to be turned on and off by hand or with a metal key. Automatic sprinkler systems run on a timer and have set times and lengths for their watering cycles. While it may seem simpler to just use an automatic sprinkler system, keep in mind you will have to reprogram the system when conditions change. This could include heavier than average rainfall, or higher temperatures during the day. Both automatic systems and manual systems also require occasional maintenance to ensure maximum efficiency. These types of systems work great for large areas, such as a lawn.

Pros and Cons of Drip Sprinklers

When water conservation is a priority, drip sprinkler systems can be a game changer. They consist of tubing that can be strategically placed right next to plants in a flower bed or vegetable garden. There are drip emitters, sometimes called micro sprinklers, that bring the water directly to the root of the plants. This style of irrigation practically eliminates water waste. Water waste can be found due to wind drifting the water to areas like the sidewalk, or from the sun evaporating the water before it reaches the plants roots. This can save homeowners a lot of money on their water bill each month. They can deliver 1-4 gallons of water an hour directly on to your plants. Although they are efficient, they also require a lot of maintenance. Because of the small nature of the drip sprinkler systems they are not to be used for large areas.

Drip Sprinkler Maintenance

As we mentioned above, drip sprinklers require a lot of maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Drip sprinklers are easy to install and are extremely effective. Because they are made of flexible tubing it is easy to hide around your plants. However, the micro sprinklers can get easily clogged and the tubing needs to be flushed out regularly. How often you flush out your tubing depends on what type of water you use to water your plants. If you are hooked up to culinary water, sometimes called house water, a good rule of thumb is to flush it out once a month. If you are hooked up to non-potable water, or secondary water, there are more particles and minerals left unfiltered. This means you may need to flush your system out weekly. Keep a close watch on your plants, if they are not thriving check your drip sprinkler system for clogged or broken drip emitters. It is easy to miss if you are not diligent. You can find replacement drip sprinkler parts for an affordable price online or at any home store.

Other Tips for Water Conservation

Drip sprinkler systems are a great tool to conserve water, but there are many ways gardeners can make their gardens water wise. The first is to know how much water your plants need and how much water your sprinkler system applies. Make sure your numbers match. It can be easy to over water plants especially your lawn. Try watering your gardens and lawn early in the morning or late in the evening. By avoiding the heat of the day you can eliminate unnecessary evaporation. If you are using an automatic system, break the cycles up into two smaller runs. This gives the soil time to absorb the water and avoids wasteful water run off. Finally, choose plants and flowers that are native to your region. By choosing plants that will naturally thrive in your climate, you won’t need to supplement so much extra water each week.

In Conclusion

You don’t have to live in a tropical rain forest in order to have a beautiful and thriving garden. You also don’t have to spend a small fortune on water in order to keep it beautiful. Using drip sprinklers can be an effective and smart way to water your flower beds and vegetable gardens this summer. It brings water directly to the roots of the plants which allows them to maximize their water consumption and eliminate water waste. Although drip sprinklers require more maintenance than other sprinkler systems, they are easy to install and easy to run. Drip sprinklers are a great solution for water conservation in your own backyard.  

Amy O'Brien

I am a mother, homeowner, and a DIY kind of gal. Whether it’s backpacking in the mountains or throwing a BBQ in my backyard, I love bringing my family to the great outdoors!

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