Also popular as tickle irrigation, drip irrigation is type of irrigation where water is dripped into the soil at very low rates (typically 2 to 20 liters per hour) from a network of plastic pipes with outlets known as drip emitters. The main distinction from other irrigation systems is that water is applied close to plants so that only the part of the soil where roots are present is wetted. This is different from sprinkler irrigation and other irrigation systems where the whole soil profile is wetted.
The approach can be used on almost any landscape. On steep slopes, planting is done along contour lines and the water supply lines also laid along the contour to maintain strong discharge rates irrespective of elevation. Drip irrigation can also be used on all soil types. On clay soils, water is supplied at a slower rate to avoid runoff and surface water ponding. On sandy landscapes, application rates are increased to ensure adequate lateral wetting of the soil.
Drip irrigation comes with several obvious advantages. Sprinkler irrigation unnecessarily wastes a lot of water. Since moisture is sprayed through the air, plenty of water is lost in the atmosphere before it even reaches your plants. In drier, hotter parts of the country, the water may even evaporate or be diverted by wind before reaching the thirsty lawn.
Such issues are not present if you choose drip irrigation. Drip systems are installed directly above or below each plant meaning that very little water, if any, goes to waste. In fact, some studies show that drip irrigation is 90% efficient.
Other benefits include;
- Increased savings
Since you’re using less water, over time you’ll realize significant savings on your water bills. You can set your drip system on a timer that controls flow rate for further savings.
- Greater control
Traditional sprinklers tend to apply too much in the same area resulting in over-saturation. This is harmful to plants, can cause fungal diseases, and produces pesky weeds. In drip irrigation, water is dripped only over the plant at controlled rates, eliminating these side effects.
- Easy installation
Compared to other irrigation systems, even if you’re using a professional landscaping company, you’ll pay less for installation. This is because the biggest challenge in installing a drip irrigation system is laying the pipes!
- Easier maintenance
Drip irrigation systems only need minimal maintenance. Just make sure the emitters and tubing are free of clogs. Then, during winter, drain the lines, cover the ends of the tubes and safely store expensive parts such as filters and regulators.
Summit Landscape is the premier landscape management services provider across the Grand Rapids, Mich. metro area. For professional, reliable landscaping products and services, contact us today at 616-453-1091.