Low-Pressure Watering for Landscapes
Many gardeners are turning to low-pressure watering. Low-pressure watering systems, including drip irrigation systems, are much more efficient than traditional overhead sprinklers. Traditional sprinklers often cause a variety of problems, such as high rates of runoff and evaporation. Drip systems deliver water directly to the soil and plant roots, resulting in less water loss through evaporation. They are also convenient when compared to hand watering. Gardeners can set up simple drip irrigation systems themselves, although professionals may be necessary to install more complex underground ones.
Low-pressure irrigation systems use less water than high-pressure systems. They slowly deliver water directly to the soil so that it is able to soak in rather than evaporating or turning into runoff. Because drip irrigation uses water so efficiently, it is exempt from water use restrictions in some areas. Low-pressure watering ends up being better for the environment and cheaper for the gardener in the long run. Low-pressure systems, however, do have higher initial installation costs than high-pressure sprinklers.
Landscape Health Benefits
Because water is delivered to the soil slowly, this type of system does not cause erosion or damage the soil structure with high-velocity droplets of water. Drip systems that deliver water directly to the surface of the soil are also healthier for plants because the plant leaves do not get sprayed with water. Wet leaves encourage fungal diseases and insect problems. Low-volume irrigation provides a more consistent amount of moisture, from which many plants benefit.
The simplest type of drip irrigation is a perforated soaker hose laid across the surface of the soil. This type of system is easy for gardeners to set up themselves and to move as needed. For example, you can lay the drip hose directly above the rootball of a new plant and then move it slightly outwards as the plants roots develop. One drawback of soaker hoses is that they sit above the ground, and some gardeners do not like the way they look. They also make it impossible to deliver precise amounts of water; the amount of water released at different points along the hose will vary with pressure and hose length. Emitter tubing, on the other hand, releases a consistent amount of moisture. It is, however, less flexible and more expensive than soaker hoses. Farmers with large landscapes may also use above-ground sprinklers that hang above plants and have less pressure than traditional sprinklers.
Gardeners who do not like the look of hoses or tubes on top of the soil may choose to have underground drip systems installed. Emitter tubes or pipes under the surface of the soil release water very efficiently before it has a chance to evaporate. They do, however, sometimes become clogged with dirt. They also cost more to install than above-ground systems and are more difficult to move.