Drip-irrigation systems or plant drip systems and other low volume watering systems continue to grow in popularity and use. This growth is due to water restrictions and the desire to conserve our use of water in the garden, lawn and landscape.
“As more municipalities began to mandate low-volume usage of water, drip irrigation methods started to become the technology of choice.
Today, with improved materials, ease of installation and the increased availability of components, drip irrigation is now a viable option for all parts of the country.” says Netafim USA, Fresno, California. (Netafim drip irrigation products are used and respected around the globe)
Low volume, low pressure irrigation, pressure regulator, soaker hose and micro-irrigation systems reduce run off and overspray by delivering slowly both water and fertilizer nutrients to plant material near or at the root zone level.
These efficient garden watering systems promote healthier plant growth by putting water where it needs to go – at the root system – while reducing over watering, and wasted water. Using irrigation controllers and irrigation zones each plant type can be watered according to its needs.
Drip watering systems allow for water conservation by regulating soil moisture levels with greater accuracy.
This is done with low pressure water flowing through a drip irrigation hose and exiting through a smaller system of “spaghetti” drip tube with micro-sprays, emitters or bubblers placed precisely where the water from the water source should be delivered.
Selecting Drip Irrigation Components
Pressure Compensating Irrigation Emitters
The drip irrigation emitter is an important component of the overall drip system. When selecting drip emitters make sure they are “pressure-compensating.” A water pressure compensating emitter will deliver the same rate of water flow with the first emitter as with the last emitter in the garden hose. This way you will know all plants are receiving uniform water distribution rates during the watering cycle.
Although drip systems all have filters, debris does accumulate overtime. Look for irrigation emitters which have a self-flushing feature, allowing the drip emitter to flush out any accumulated dirt the irrigation filter may have missed.
Built-in Check Valves
Some drip emitters have built into their design a check valve or control valve, allowing for all emitters to come on and shut off at the same time. This can help stop “back-siphoning.”
Eco-Friendly Watering and Sustainable Landscapes
To encourage more water conservation, many water districts are beginning to offer rebate programs for customers installing water-wise irrigation systems such as a drip system.
The days of inefficient watering systems are gone.
“With Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) being more and more influential in the marketplace, and the new International Green Construction Code, irrigation systems need to be more efficient or we’re not going to be able to install them,” says Carl Dowse, irrigation department manager at The Bruce Company, Middleton, Wisconsin.
Plants First – Irrigation Second
The type of drip irrigation system installed needs to be meet the needs of the plants to be watered.
- Plant types
- Plant locations
- Soil types
- Site conditions
The above four all play a part in the type of low volume irrigation system used, watering device (drip emitter), zone layout and water rates or “rate of precipitation.”
Generally, homeowners do not want to see tubing running all over their landscape. This is where micro-sprayers can be used effectively. The main “water supply” is installed up against the house and out of the way, and the micro-sprayers off the main and the tubes can be covered with mulch.
Decks and patios can also take advantage of drip-irrigation technology. The main drip lines can be run under the deck or on the outside of the patio. The small spaghetti tube with the bubbler installed runs right into the potted plants.
Hedges and Shrubs
Drip irrigation works well in watering hedges and shrubs, where the emitters are run under the hedges.
Most citrus groves today are watered using drip technology. Just like hedges, the drip emitters, bubblers or micro-sprayers are run under the trees and shrubs. This makes watering much more efficient than overhead irrigation systems.
Drip Irrigation Filter Required
In order for any drip system to operate correctly some type of water filtering system needs to be installed to protect the clogging of micro-sprayers, emitters or bubblers.
Most manufacturers sell drip irrigation kits designed to work with their low-volume watering components.
There are 3 types of filters used in low-volume watering systems.
- Manual – an operator pulls out the filter and cleans it out manually
- Semi-Manual – Operators open a value and the filter cleans itself
- Fully Automatic – Self cleaning
Many people like the fully automatic self-cleaning filter as it reduces time and labor servicing the irrigation system. However, it could be me being old fashion. I like to know and mark off that a filter was checked so I’ve always opted for the semi-manual type filters in the nursery.
Drip Irrigation Systems Excellent Option For Rooftops
In the building industry there is a lot of focus on being ecofriendly. Drip is a great watering system for gardens as it fits perfectly in the ecofriendly world of green roofs and rooftop gardens.
Using native plant material, dry-loving plants and some creativity, rooftops can be transformed, making them come alive, when outfitted with low volume irrigation systems, for gardens even with odd shaped areas.
With all the options available in the world of low volume drip irrigation technology, and the unique situations today’s landscaper and homeowner face in the world of wise water use. Drip irrigation offers and effective, efficient, ecofriendly solution to watering the garden and landscape.