Drip irrigation is usually used to water plants, trees and shrubs within a landscape or flower bed. It is sometimes also referred to as micro irrigation. Drip irrigation is a form of watering that uses a slow drip of water right at the base or root zone of the plant or tree. It can be very effective in saving water and also good in low water pressure situations.
Pros and cons of drip irrigation: Drip can help save water and money in a couple of ways. Each emitter delivers a slow soaking low volume of water. This slow soak minimizes run off and overspray. Plants and trees can grow deeper root zones which keeps them healthier and prevents them from drying out as fast. By only watering the base of the plant you do not get any wasted water due to run off, overspray or wind drift which saves money in the long run. Installation of a drip system is often less expensive also. The system is comprised of tiny emitters and narrow tubing which is usually not buried very deep in the soil. This means less expensive material and cheaper labor costs.
Long term maintenance is sometimes looked at as a draw back to a drip system. Since the emitters are so tiny, sometimes they get blocked up with dirt or debris and don’t deliver proper amounts of water. As the plants grow and mature within your landscape, the emitters some times get lost or tangled within the branches or root ball of the plant. This can make them hard to find or adjust. Also, the narrow piping system is not buried very deep in the soil and this could mean occasional damage and repair if a tube gets accidentally cut by other routine maintenance procedures such as trimming bushes or edging flower beds.
When a customer asks about drip irrigation, I try to explain all of the advantages and disadvantages to them so they know what to expect. I also try to understand their short term and long term objectives and expectations to determine if it’s a good fit for their landscape project. If used in the proper situations and regularly maintained drip irrigation can be a very effective way to water your landscaping and protect your investment.