Drip Irrigation: The Good, The Bad, and The Aesthetically Pleasing

drip irrigation diagram—earthworksPlants are a lot like people. Nobody eats an entire week’s worth of food in one day. The same goes for plants. We get our nutrients and water in a balanced way. Drip irrigation works in the same way, by adding nutrients and water frequently and in small doses. This ensures the optimal growing conditions to produce the highest yields. It also benefits for your wallet and your property. However, there are some points to be aware of that can cause challenges.

What is Drip Irrigation?

Drip Irrigation is an efficient, low-pressure water delivery system. Its strategically placed emitters release water directly to the plant root base at optimal times to promote optimal growth. Rubber piping can be arranged through fields or landscapes to drop water and fertilizer in specific areas. The system is customized to your property and plant needs to achieve uniform application and growth.

The Benefits of Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is extremely water efficient. A traditional irrigation system sprays water into the air and is subject to wind and possible obstruction. As plants grow, they can block smaller plants from water access. Plus, when the water is falling on plants, a large portion of it is evaporated, with only 30% reaching the roots. Drip irrigation is much more efficient; 90% of water reaches the plant. It is also energy efficient because it works on low water pressure. Energy and water savings have great benefits for your property, but also for your wallet. Higher efficiency means lower water and energy bills.

Since drip irrigation is so efficient, it can often be exempt from water restrictions in certain areas. For example, in Dallas, there is a mandatory twice-weekly watering schedule with day and time restrictions. Properties with drip irrigation are exempt and can water with no limits because there is little waste.

Comparatively, maintenance for drip irrigation is quick and easy. A traditional system must be reconfigured as plants grow. A plant might start small, but over weeks, months, and years it grows fuller and taller, often blocking spray nozzles. When water is distributed at the base of plants, there is no need to restructure as plants mature. Drip irrigation is also convenient because the rubber piping is held together with barbed fittings, and no glue is required. This means maintenance is often quick and easy.

How to Combat Potential Challenges of Drip Irrigation

While there are many advantages to drip irrigation, there are minor disadvantages. It is important to be aware of potential challenges so that you can address issues as they arise.

Potential challenges and solutions include:

Problem Solution
Unsightly Drip Lines
Drip lines may be exposed throughout your landscape. This is a temporary challenge in some cases. As plants mature, it provides more line coverage.
Cover Drip Lines with Mulch
You can hide drip lines with mulch to make your landscape aesthetically pleasing. This also helps reduce exposure to direct sun and heat. Note, however that you should not cover drip lines in seasonal color beds with mulch because these plants are more tender, and if too much moisture is locked in around the plant, it can create mold.
Frequent Maintenance
Though repairs are often simple, they are frequent. The rubber piping swells in the Texas heat and can separate easily because the fittings are not glued. Planning for regular maintenance can help eliminate surprises and reduce frustration.
Keep Fittings Onsite
Leaks are less noticeable with drip irrigation, so it is vital to check lines consistently. Many repairs just require new fittings, and because no glue is needed, you can often make minor repairs on your own. Our team is here to help if you need us.
Small animals such as rats, rabbits, and squirrels can detect water in the lines. On hot, dry days, they can chew through the lines to access the water.
Check Lines Often
There is not a concrete solution to keeping small animals away from irrigation lines. Covering lines with mulch can slow them down and deter them from chewing the lines. Small leaks from chewing are often less noticeable and can be corrected quickly by checking your lines often.

Our licensed irrigators and certified irrigation technicians design and install drip systems that follow current Texas Commission on Environmental Quality standards. We can also handle spray to drip conversions, repairs and modifications, back flow inspections, diagnostic evaluations, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help design and maintain your drip irrigation system.


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