From the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
by the Sonoma County Master Gardeners
© Sonoma County Master Gardeners
wars! Water is one of THE key commodities in the coming years. There's
less and less of it generally available (not that the ocean volumes are
changing much) and it's becoming increasingly expensive. As a result,
homeowners are focusing on water use like never before.
question, the best method of garden irrigation for most home garden and
landscape situations is drip irrigation. Efficient watering means
putting the right amount of water, in the right place, just at the
plants needing it, without excess, runoff, overspray, or waste. The
most efficient irrigation method available is drip. Drip irrigation
exceeds 90 percent efficiency, whereas sprinkler systems and hand
watering are 50 to 70 percent efficient. The advantages of drip
irrigation greatly outweigh the disadvantages. The primary advantages
Lower water use
Less water waste
Ease of watering
two primary disadvantages are the necessity of routine maintenance, and
the need to know and monitor your garden—since by and large you
can’t see drip at work, you have to pay attention to your plants,
as well as visually monitor the system.
Drip irrigation works by
placing water slowly and directly into the soil—literally
“dripping” it in from the many small water emitters which
are placed one or more at each plant, or through in-line emitters in
dripline. Drip is also excellent for watering sloped gardens because
the slow rate of water applied through drip irrigation means it is more
likely to soak in before it runs off.
Whether you currently hand
water, use hose-end sprinklers, have an in-ground sprinkler system, or
are putting in new landscape, there is a drip system for you. Some are
very, very basic, and still require turning the water on by hand, on a
schedule that keeps your garden properly irrigated, and others are more
complex systems, with electric valves and electronic
controllers—but you get to choose.
We cover drip from soup to nuts--basic to advanced in several different papers:
Drip Basics is just that--an introduction to the concepts and components of home drip systems.
Intermediate Drip goes the next step--discussing hydrozoning, types of drip components and systems, automatic valves and controllers.
Installation & Maintenance gets into how to design and install systems, and routine maintenance.
Calculating Drip Irrigation Schedules
delves into the scientific/mathematical way to determine how
frequently, and for how long, each irrigation should be run, in which
times of year, for optimum water use.
So if you're new to
drip--start with the basics. If you have some experience, head to
intermediate. And if your drip system is already installed, and you're
looking for a better method than guessing for setting controller times
and frequencies, check the scheduling article.
Irrigation and Water Management Page