Beginner's Guide to Drip Irrigation

Conserve water and save time with an irrigaton system for your garden.

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save time and water by installing and using a drip irrigation system for your gardenIf you’re not using drip irrigation in your garden, now’s the time to start. Drip irrigation is a highly efficient way to water, so it saves you time and helps to conserve precious supplies of clean water. Studies show that well-designed drip systems use at least 30 percent, and in some cases 50 percent, less water than other methods of watering such as sprinkling

A drip irrigation system delivers water directly to the root zone of a plant, where it seeps slowly into the soil one drop at a time. Almost no water is lost through surface runoff or evaporation, and soil particles have plenty of opportunity to absorb and hold water for plants. It also means very few nutrients leach down beyond the reach of plant roots. Furthermore, since drip irrigation delivers water directly to the plants you want to grow, less is wasted on weeds. The soil surface between the plants also remains drier, which discourages weed seeds from sprouting.

For busy gardeners, the main benefit of drip irrigation is the savings of both time and effort. Drip systems eliminate the need to drag around hoses and sprinklers. For systems that use a timer, gardeners need only spend a few seconds to turn the system on; the timer automatically turns it off

Plants watered with drip systems grow more quickly and are more productive, because they have all the water they need and their growth isn’t slowed by water stress. (This is especially true when drip irrigation is used in conjunction with mulch.) Also, plants watered by drip irrigation don’t end up with wet foliage from a sprinkler spray, and that can help prevent some foliage diseases such as powdery mildew.

Start with Soaker Hoses

The easiest way to experiment with drip irrigation is to buy a couple of soaker hoses. These hoses ooze water over their entire length. You simply position a soaker on the soil surface next to the plants you want to water, and then connect the open end of the hose to your garden hose and turn on the water supply. You can move the hose from one bed to another in your garden, or buy several and leave them in place. Soaker hoses can be used for short runs (100 to 200 feet) over flat surfaces.

photo: (cc) ryo chijiiwa/flickr

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