Drip Irrigation – Essential for a Water Efficient Garden

When we think about installing a garden, often what come to our mind first are which plants to select and where to plant them.  While these are all very important, there is another equally important aspect – the irrigation system.

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For a water efficient garden, drip irrigation is the way to go.

Benefits of Drip Irrigation

  • Saves water. Compared with other irrigation methods such as sprinkling, drip uses 30% to 50% less water.   Water is delivered by “drips” right into the plant’s root area,  with little runoff or evaporation.  Almost all the water delivered is absorbed by the plants, translating to very high watering efficiency.  As California is still in its historical drought, and outdoor watering accounts for 50% – 70% of a household’s total water usage, it is essential that we conserve water .  For outdoor landscape watering, drip is the best answer for conservation.

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  • Works great with mulch.  Chips in the mulch can be carried away by the spraying water from a sprinkler, which can expose the soil beneath and accelerate evaporation.  With drip irrigation, as water will drip down slowly into the soil, it will not move the chips and mulch can stay for a long time.
  • No water on weeds.  The precise positioning of drips means water is provided only to the plants, not to any others like weeds.  This will prevent or slow the growth of weeds.
  • Saves time and effort.  An automatic controller can be installed along with drip irrigation, so all the watering can be done automatically.  With at least one emitter for one plant, all the plants will receive the water they need.
  • Included in the Santa Clara Water District’s Landscape Rebate Program for qualified households.  The automatic controller and compatible rain sensor are covered if they are pre-approved during on-site inspection.

Installing Drip Irrigation

While drip irrigation can conserve water really well and saves time and effort, it requires advanced planning.  Here are the major steps of installing drip irrigation for a new garden.

  • Have a garden design and positions for each of the plants.
  •  After the yard is prepared, lay out the plants at where they are supposed to be according to the plan.

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  • Lay the pipes, install drip emitter for every plant.

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  • Cover the pipes and the surface of the garden with soil and mulch.  None of the pipes are visible now, only the beautiful plants!

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Weather-Based Irrigation Controller and Rain Sensor

An automatic controller can be installed to automate the drip watering. The length and frequency of each watering can easily be entered from the touch pad of the controller.

To further conserve water, a rain sensor can be connected to a smart drip irrigation controller.  When it rains, the information will be transmitted to the controller, which will then delay the next watering scheduled, avoiding the waste of the water.

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Some controllers have mobile phone apps that work with them.  After you download the app, you can view information or operate the controller from your phone, anywhere you go.

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In summary, drip irrigation can best conserve water for outdoor landscape watering.  With an automatic controller and mobile phone app, it is really convenient too to use a drip system.  Choose controllers that can work with a rain sensor – take full advantage of all the rains and conserve even more water!

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