When you read any gardening article, it will usually recommend drip irrigation. But those new to the world of gardening may be quite confused about this term and whether or not they can employ it in their own garden.
What is drip irrigation: Drip irrigation is all about targeting the soil around your plants. By setting up a system of tubing, you can have water flow from your outside tap and right to your garden. It offers a slow and steady outpouring of water that allows the root systems of your plants to slowly absorb the water with very little waste.
What is Drip Irrigation?
Unlike a hose or sprinkling system that works in a steady, overhead manner, drip irrigation is set up so that it targets the base of the plant, right at the soil level. It connects to a water source, usually a house tap, but the entire drip irrigation setup will work at the same time.
When you turn on the tap on the outside of your house, the drip irrigation system will already be attached, via a system of tubing. This tubing will snake around your plants, reaching all of them for easier access.
At regular intervals along with the tubing, about 12 to 18 inches, there will be small holes for the water to come out from. You should align the holes near the plants you want to have water.
The result will be a slow but steady flow of water that will target the soil where your plants are growing.
The Benefits of Drip Irrigation Systems
You might think that because you run a drip irrigation system for longer, it means more water. However, you use less water than you think and in a more efficient manner.
When you water your plants using a hose, you waste a lot of water because the root system simply can’t absorb all the water at once. Furthermore, if you use a sprinkler system, the plant area as well as other, non-growing areas are doused in water.
With a drip irrigation system, you target only the plants that need water. You also give them a steady stream of water which means they absorb more.
The whole result is that if done properly, you can actually water less frequently. Instead of watering twice a day with a hose, you only have to do once with a drip irrigation system.
Prevent Plant Diseases
Any time you use a hose to water, no matter how careful you are, some water will end up on the leaves of your plants. And, if you use a sprinkler system, you can end up fully soaking the whole plant.
The result is wet, soggy leaves that are susceptible to mold and rot. Too much water and your leaves won’t be able to bounce back.
Common diseases such as powdery mildew can slowly infect the whole plant. If you are able to just water the soil where your plant is growing, you can avoid a lot of diseases.
In the summer, watering has to be done on a daily basis, whether you want to or not. All that effort spent standing around, watering with a hose is very time-consuming.
With drip irrigation, you can simply turn the water tap on and then turn it back off when you are finished. It is so much easier.
While not every drip irrigation system comes with a timer, you can make it even more efficient by doing so. Having a timer for your irrigation system means you can go on vacation and not have to worry about watering your plants. It will automatically turn on and off according to your settings.
Even the hardiest of weeds need some sort of water and if you don’t give it to them, less will grow. When you water your plants by hand, you are essentially watering a larger area than just the plants, which will encourage weeds to grow.
However, when you use drip irrigation, it means the rows between plants remain dry. When you have dry soil, the result is fewer weeds.
The dryer soil is also nice for practical reasons. The less mud you have to wade through, the better.
Types of Drip Irrigation
Raindrip Drip System
One of the most common types of drip irrigation is a raindrop setup. This entails small feeders that come out of the main tube.
The water slowly drips out and will target only the area where it is. With this system, you want to carefully make sure that the water drips close to the base of the plant. If it is too far away from plants, it won’t be effective.
Another common setup is called a micro-mist sprinkler. With this setup, the sprinkler is set up about 12 to 18 inches off the ground.
It then emits a spray of water, in very small, mist-like droplets. The water will hit the surrounding area, in about a 2-foot radius.
Why Use a Drip Irrigation System?
Even though you might be wary about setting up a complete irrigation system in your garden, it is actually not that difficult. All the parts you need can be found at your home improvement store and there are various kits you can purchase online.
A drip irrigation system is perfect if you have a larger garden and want to ensure it thrives. With the right amount of water, especially if you live in a hot climate, you can give your plants everything you need.
A drip irrigation system will save you a lot of time as you merely need to turn the main tap on or off. It will target only the areas you set it up for and will hit the soil, not the foliage on plants, so there is better absorption and less worry about diseases.
Serious gardeners should definitely consider a drip irrigation system. It works by providing water right to the soil around your plants and is very convenient to use.