Garden Sustainability with Drip Irrigation
Water is life. As such, it is a precious resource we all need to conserve and use with care. Although water is comparatively inexpensive in most places, it really is more precious than gold. Try going a day or even a few hours in your home or business without this life-giving fluid and you will understand why.
DripWorks is committed to partnering with farmers and gardeners everywhere to help you water efficiently and do what you can to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Today, water supply is less predictable than it used to be. It is becoming more expensive as erratic behavior of normal weather patterns becomes commonplace.
Water is as crucial for crops and vegetation as it is for humans and animals. Without adequate watering, plants will wither and die. To ensure adequate supplies of this precious natural resource for ourselves and for future generations, it is crucial to do everything you can to conserve water. As an added benefit, reducing your water use will save you money, either in lower water bills from your local utility or reduced pumping costs if you have your own well.
When it comes to watering plants, drip irrigation offers many benefits. Besides saving water and money, a drip irrigation system will help prevent the growth and spread of fungus and disease. It can also guard against leaching of soil nutrients and erosion that traditional irrigation can cause.
Farmers and backyard gardeners are finding innovative solutions to control their water costs and meet increased demand for food production. One of the essential grassroots solutions to the sustainability of our resources is to use less water but also use it wisely.
What are the Benefits of Drip Irrigation?
Water: Drip Irrigation is the most efficient method of watering today
- Places a precise amount of water where you need it
- Prevents overwatering
- Results in less weeding
- Conserves water
- Saves money
Time: Installing a drip system will save you water and time.
- Eliminates hours of hand-watering
- Can be fully automated with a timer
Versatility: Use drip irrigation systems anywhere.
- Gardens, vineyards, greenhouses, row crops
- Existing landscapes
- Hillsides or flat terrain
Drip Irrigation Today
The drip irrigation industry has come up with many products that meet every grower’s needs. These include drip irrigation kits, emitters and micro-sprayers as well as mini-sprinklers, emitter tubing and drip tape. There is also an entire realm of filters, water timers and pressure regulators as well as fertilizer injectors, tools and accessories available to help install and maintain a drip system.
If you are new to drip irrigation and wondering how to get started, we highly recommend one of our complete kits. These are complete kits you can use to water a whole garden. You can click on any one of these kits and see a full description.
Drip Row Crop Kit Using Aqua Traxx Drip Tape: This kit is best for straight rows on relatively flat terrain.
Garden Bed Kit: For framed or unframed garden beds, this kit accommodates a wide range of layouts.
Deck Garden Kit: Use this kit in large or small planter boxes and containers.
Rose and Shrub Kit: Use this kit with Shrubblers to water individual plants, shrubs or containers.
Individual Plant Kit: This kit will water 60 to 240 plants using one, two and four gallon-per-hour (GPH) drip emitters.
Greenhouse Misting Kit: This kit is ideal for seed propagation, foliage watering and cooling.
Soil type is another factor that will determine what type of emitters you will need. There are three main types of soil: clay, loam and sand.
Clay absorbs water slowly, causing it to spread on the surface and form a roughly inverted cone shape below ground. For that reason, watering slowly with a 0.5 GPH emitter is best to achieve efficient penetration in clay soil. It is smart to amend the soil by digging in loamy or sandy soil to mix with the clay.
Loam absorbs water at an even rate, forming an evenly wide pattern below ground. A half-gallon to one GPH emitter is best with natural loam, organic compost or bagged soils.
Sand absorbs water quickly in an almost straight-down pattern. If you use a drip emitter, a two GPH flow of water from a dripper is best. Often it helps to use a mini-sprayer to provide water for a wide root pattern in this situation.
The use of a timer at the start of your irrigation system is a must. If you would like to set up a drip system to save yourself time so you can take off for the weekend or a vacation, a timer is key. If you’re not there to turn your system on or sometimes forget to turn it off (and run your water bill up), a drip irrigation timer is a must. A timer will give your plants the steady, consistent watering they need for optimum health and growth.
Battery Timers: These will fit the needs of most home garden situations. They are easy to install and program and are inexpensive. These timers are typically limited to one zone.
High-End Battery Timers: These are commercial-grade and more costly but can operate in multiple areas.
Electronic Timers: These offer several programs with specific start times and many extras that allow you to expand to more zones, with each one controlled by its valve.
Solar Timers: If you are tired of batteries, these environmentally friendly timers are easy to program. They are powered by ambient light, require no back-up power source and are perfect for home or secluded gardens.
Gravity-Fed Drip Systems
Gravity feeding from a tank and using gravity to push water through your drip system requires drippers that work well at low pressures. The pressure coming from your tank may be lower than the water pressure provided to homes in a town or city. Some products are designed to work well at very low water pressure, like Aqua Traxx Drip Tape, 1/4″ Soaker Dripline and Take-Apart Emitters. If you are not satisfied with your flow rate, you can increase the pressure of your system by:
- Elevating the tank
- Isolating the areas to be watered into smaller zones
- Adding a pump
- Connecting to a municipal water supply
Sprinkler to Drip Conversion
If you are an ecologically minded homeowner with a lawn in your yard, you might consider taking out your lawn and putting in a more water-efficient landscape, like a xeriscape. A xeriscape landscape uses a combination of hardscape (large rocks or boulders), small pebbles for pathways or color highlights and plants that can tolerate little or no water for long periods. Use plants that are native to your area and can survive with no additional water from the property owner. The plants also might be from other regions that are drought-tolerant and may be well suited for your climatic conditions.
Some great additional sources for these plants are online at highcountrygardens.com and anniesannuals.com. If you have sprinklers installed for your lawn that get water from electric valves, you can convert to a drip system to feed your xeric plants when they are new transplants or seedlings. Check out the 1/2″ Sprinkler to Drip Conversion Kit, install it and you are on your way.
We are so thankful to be able to provide the tools and information necessary to save water and grow a sustainable community. We can directly impact the environment we live in by our choices; let us help you keep our community and water healthy. Sketch out your vision! Contact us at DripWorks for further assistance.