Today, we’re going to discuss a topic that’s not only crucial for the health of your landscape but also for the sustainability of our planet – irrigation systems. More specifically, we’ll delve into why a drip irrigation system is a more sustainable choice compared to traditional spray irrigation systems.

Drip Irrigation vs. Spray Irrigation: A Tale of Two Systems

A traditional spray irrigation system sprays water over your lawn in an overlapping pattern, making it ideal for large, flat areas like lawns that require a substantial volume of water. However, this method can lead to water wastage as it waters everything in its path, including sidewalks and non-plant areas. Spray irrigation in some ways is self evident, the system has heads that pop up and spray. Typically the heads focus on an area between 90 and 360 degrees.

On the other hand, a drip irrigation system delivers water directly to the roots of plants. This method is perfect for garden beds and other small areas that need a specific watering schedule. By delivering water directly to the plant roots, drip systems use much less water than spray systems. Using less water for the same result makes them a more sustainable choice. The water is applied directly to the roots. Ideally, the drip system is above the soil layer and below the mulch layer for optimal absorption.

Sustainability in Irrigation

When we talk about a sustainable irrigation system, we’re referring to a system that uses water efficiently. This ensures that the plants get the water they need without wasting this precious resource. A sustainable irrigation system helps maintain a healthy landscape while minimizing water usage. We water our landscapes with the same water that we use to drink or shower with. Since it is potable there has been effort involved in ensure that water is safe to drink, we should not waste it. There are some more advanced systems that will reuse sink water and shower water known as “Grey Water” and use that for irrigation purposes.


Applications: Where Do They Fit Best?

While spray systems are ideal for lawns, drip systems are best suited for garden beds. If you’re looking to reduce your water usage, one effective strategy is to reduce your lawn size. This allows you to increase the area of your garden beds with native plants. Learn more about designing your landscape here.

If you do choose to use a spray irrigation system for your lawn, make sure it’s equipped with the newer spray rotator technology. This technology ensures more of the water reaches the plant roots, reducing water wastage.

The reason why it is ideal to use spray irrigation for lawns is that a drip irrigation system would make enjoying and caring for that lawn very difficult. Mowing over the drip irrigation lines would make it very easy to damage them. Additionally, if you were laying out on the grass for a picnic or kicking a ball with your kids, drip irrigation would be cumbersome to the experience. 

On the other hand why it is ideal to use drip irrigation in the garden is many fold, but most notable that spray irrigation cannot distribute water evenly it will spray one side of the plant which then blocks the other side from receiving water – simple physics!


Enhancing Water Usage


Adding regular mulching to your garden beds is a great way to improve water usage. Mulch acts as a barrier, protecting plant roots from extreme temperatures. It also prevents soil erosion, and reduces weed competition and keeps nutrients in the soil. It also helps retain moisture in the soil, reducing the need for frequent watering. We recommend mulching once  per year.

Irrigation Water Cycling

Another effective method to reduce water runoff and promote deeper root growth is Irrigation Water Cycling. This method involves applying water slowly and giving it time to be absorbed. Repeated watering allows the water to reach deeper into the soil. This not only reduces water wastage but also promotes a thriving landscape. Technically water cycling is done by running a zone multiple times in succession with breaks. In time the soil will saturate and no longer be able to receive water. Once saturated there is no sense in watering that area due to wasted water runoff. It is best to have the system move on to the next zone. Water cycling would then mean the original zone would that turn back on a couple of hours later.

This allows for less frequent watering, it encourages the plant roots to go deeper and makes for a more robust and thriving landscape. As an example for easy math instead of watering a zone 5 days a week for an hour, water cycling could have the zone be watered 3 times in a given day, 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Over all it would be a 10% in water usage but a healthy landscape. The original plan would call for 5 hours of watering in a given week, the water cycling plan would be 4.5 hours of watering.


In conclusion, adopting sustainable irrigation practices like drip irrigation, regular mulching, and water cycling can significantly enhance the health and vitality of your landscape while conserving our precious water resources. Remember, every drop counts! Get inspired and learn if an Irrigation System is right for you!

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