Six years of drought and the sky-rocketing expense of water are the reasons that pushed many of us to seek out alternative ways to manage the water consumption of our plants, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Our objective is to maintain the healthiness and good looks of our landscape yet bring down the cost of our water bill. Drip irrigation is a good alternative to conventional overhead irrigation because it applies up to 70% less water than overhead sprinklers. Water output is measured in gallons per minute for conventional irrigation but with drip, water is measured by gallons per hour.
Types of Drip Irrigation
- Quadra bubblers are designed to water plants, shrubs and trees individually. Each bubbler can water up to 4 plants at the same time. Distribution tubing runs directly to the plant intended for irrigation. Laser soaker lines have pre-drilled holes at either 6-12" intervals and are designed to distribute water over a larger area. Both kinds of tubing connect to the bubblers which can be installed onto existing landscape risers therefore making the transformation from conventional irrigation to drip irrigation easy.
- A standard drip irrigation system transports water via polyethylene tubing. The tubing is rolled out above ground to all the desired plants. Emitters, which release a slow and uniform amount of water directly to the root zone of the desired plant, are installed directly into the tubing or if more tubing is desired, a connector is punched into the tubing and then finally an emitter is installed.
- Micro-Irrigation products provide low overhead irrigation for plants such as fems, ground covers and annual colors. The droplets are much smaller those emitted from conventional sprinklers.
- Laser drip tubes can be installed either above or below ground. The laser drilled holes emit water in the opposite direction of the flow and this helps to slow down the volume of water running through the tube. These tubes have pre-drilled holes at either 6-12" intervals and they can be used to make drip rings around your well established trees and shrubs.
Advantages and Concerns
- Applies the water directly to individual plants therefore not giving an opportunity for random seed to germinate.
- Water loss due to breaks will be considerably less.
- Insects can crawl into the tubing and clog the line. Eliminate that by using insect plugs. The insect plugs don't restrict tbe flow.
- Use a regulator to reduce the amount of water pressure in the tubing. Too much pressure can blow the emitters off the tube.
- Install a filter to keep the water clean and prevent fine sand and sediment from clogging the system. Clean the filter regularly.
- To check for sufficient watering, turn off the system and dig down deep (at least 10-12") next to an emitter. If the soil is still dry, you'll need to irrigate longer. After awhile you'll become good at this and eliminate guesswork.
- Most garden shops and hardware stores have many books on the subject. The drip irrigation method is becoming so popular that it's becoming second nature to install it.