Drip it, Don't Spray it!
Updated: Jan 29
Living in California, we should all know by now: droughts are cyclical. (For our purposes a drought is defined as a significant reduction in rainfall for more than one season.) They come every ten to twelve years. Count on it. That’s the price we pay for living in an area that is said to have the best weather in the world. It’s not a question of if there is going to be another drought, but rather when. The good news for us is that they are cyclical, so just as they are sure to come, they are also sure to go! While there’s really no accurate way to predict exactly when they will occur or for how long they will last, it’s nice to be prepared. And in the meantime use responsible water management practices.
Note: It is a myth that you have to pick ugly highway plants that require less water! You can have a beautiful landscape with plenty of lush, colorful plants and keep them watered regularly, even in a drought!
Why is drip irrigation a better system to have installed than a spray system for plants? Drip irrigation systems save water and its nutrients by slowly dripping water at the base of the plant where it is most effective. Water is absorbed through the soil’s surface down to the roots where it does the most good. Drip irrigation is highly efficient, limiting your water to pre-determined locations through drippers manufactured with preset allocation rates ranging from .5 gallons per hour (GPH) to 2 gallons per hour (GPH), depending on the plant and its water requirements/restrictions. This makes it easier to control for over-watering some plants and under-watering others.
Water 60 to 70 plants everyday for a week for less water than a single 7-minute shower!
When water is sprayed over the entire planting area it is less effective. Spray irrigation requires a lot more water pressure, needing more water, if the spray nozzles are going to reach their intended target sometimes up to fifteen (15) feet away. The water hits the surrounding grade making weed control more of a challenge. Spray irrigation (as opposed to drip), contends with the wind, making it difficult to direct the water properly, has a tendency to blow the water, displacing and often blowing it away from its intended destination. Once the plants mature and grow, they are likely to block the squirting water, preventing it from shooting the projected distance, watering closer plants excessively and disallowing water from reaching plants positioned further from the spray nozzle/s, wasting water.
With drip irrigation, water leaves the control valves the same way, through a strong PVC pipe, until it reaches the general location (sometimes on the other side of the landscape) so you have a full flow right up until the spot where you need to reduce the pressure. Then the water pressure is reduced from 80 PSI (most residential properties) down to 30 PSI by installing a pressure reducer on the PVC line. By using drip irrigation, you start out by cutting the water usage down to almost 1/3 of what you originally had! From there, water is reduced additionally at each plant!
Jefferson Landscape and Design’s Brief List of Drip Irrigation Advantages
Including but not limited to:
- Water and nutrient loss are minimized due to localized application.
- System is on a timer, no under-watering, no worries.
- Soil erosion is lessened.
- Weed growth is lessened.
- Water distribution is uniformed, controlled by the output of each dripper.
- Foliage remains dry, reducing the risk of disease or burning.
- Operated at a lower pressure, thus eliminating water waste and reducing cost.
- Landscapes with irregular shapes are easily accommodated.
Drip Irrigation Systems are the way to go!