When planting a garden or plants of any type, it is important to figure out the best way to water them. This includes researching the various ways to water as well as any watering restrictions for the area. Below is a basic breakdown of watering systems that could be considered.
1) Self watering – This can be done with the basic spray attachment or a watering wand. This method is probably the most obvious and would allow the individual to choose what to water and how much to water. Water can be directed to the base of the plant (depending on its size) without getting the foliage wet, thus preventing the dreaded “sunburn”. A disadvantage of using this method of watering could be the difficulty in watering a large area, which could not only be time consuming but could also use a great deal of water. Not good if you are trying to keep the water bill low.
2) Sprinklers – As small children, these were almost as good as going to a water park minus the admission fee. Never was one thought even given as to how much water was being used or to the cost of the water. As adults, the use of a sprinkler is no longer as frivolous and has a more practical use: to water lawns and plants. Some of the advantages of sprinklers are that a) they are a relatively cheap piece of equipment, b) can be used for periodic waterings and c) can be placed anywhere extra water is needed for lawns or plants. Some disadvantages could include uneven watering, water on the foliage (dangerous if the sun is out), and losing water to evaporation.
3) Soaker hoses – If the area in which plants are planted is level, this option is a good one. The hoses can be snaked around the plant bed and provide a nice steady amount of water. Soaker hoses are great for full flowerbeds, for example. Other advantages include low chances of water evaporation, no water on the foliage, and they can be put on timers to regulate the time of watering. A disadvantage could include that if the ground slopes at all, the water could run too much in one direction, which could be good for some plants and bad for others. Another disadvantage could be that they are easily damaged (if one forgets where they are) and they could wear out quickly if not covered with a light coating of mulch.
4) Drip Systems – This system is very versatile. In a zero landscaping area, this system is wonderful for watering any plants (such as rosebushes) that would be put in this type of low maintenance spot. The drip heads can be placed very close to the base of the desired plant to allow for optimum water delivery to the roots. If water usage is limited or water is in short supply, a drip system could work out very well if installed with a timer. But what exactly is a drip system? In short, it is a larger tube that is attached to the water supply and then smaller tubes are attached at desired intervals along the larger tube. The drip heads are attached to the smaller tubes and can be attached to spikes that will anchor the drip head at the base of the desired plant. Much like the soaker hose, this will help ensure that water is delivered to the base of the plant and no water gets on the leaves. Drip systems can also partially help keep weeds from growing by denying them water. A huge disadvantage, however, with this type of system is the cost. Unless the individual knows how to install a system like this, a professional would have to be hired in order to make sure it is all done properly. Not having this system installed correctly could be very costly.
5) Automatic Irrigation System – This can include the use of soaker hoses and drip systems if they are integrated into this system. For example, if there are outside faucets near planting areas that are part of the automatic system, then the soaker hoses or drip systems could be attached to those faucets and therefore run on the timing that is programmed in for the entire system. An automatic system includes pipes being installed deep in the ground, usually with pop-up sprinkler heads positioned in whatever locations the individual desires. The biggest advantage to an automatic system is the convenience – it can water when the individual is out of town and it will turn on every day at a predetermined time so the individual doesn’t have to think about it. Disadvantages are pretty obvious. First, installing such a system is not cheap. As with the drip system, not having this installed correctly could be very bad. Second, the water use can be high and therefore affect the water bill (such a system would not be good in an area where water is scarce). Third, depending on the type of automatic system installed or the length of time said system has been installed, the cost of maintenance could be high.
So keep in mind that standby when thinking over these choices of watering systems: RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH! Take lots of time to think over all the information gathered and make the best choice possible. Websites used for research for this article include www.sprinklerwarehouse.com and www.savingwater.org, both fantastic sites for details regarding the aforementioned systems. As always, suggestions and comments are always welcome.