By Michael Albert
Irrigation can be an intimidating prospect to many gardeners. I would like to provide people with a few helpful hints about irrigation.
Effective irrigation is about getting the right amount of water directly to the plant roots. Water in the air or on leaves can be inefficient and can cause disease, sunspot and pests. The best time to water is early morning for this reason. Irrigation that is broken, turned the wrong way, spraying into the plant, or not level, will waste water.
Better irrigation products like rotary heads and flex joints can reduce irrigation breaks and water consumption. There are a few stores in most larger cities that sell these products.
Always consider how much pressure is in your irrigation system. Too much pressure causes breaks, too little and the system will not to work or work inefficiently. Generally, the slower an irrigation system the more efficient that irrigation. Spray heads in general spray a lot of water quickly but much of the water is lost to the air; a drip line, is slower and usually more expensive, will put most of the water to the soil. Smaller pipe means more loss of pressure. Too many irrigation heads on a single zone will equate to too much loss of pressure. Gravity can add or subtract pressure from irrigation consider that a hill or incline will have some effect on pressure.
When considering purchasing an irrigation system consider the type of soil and the vegetation. Organic darker soils will hold water while sand and light-colored soil will drain. Small root systems usually mean the top of the soil needs to be moist while larger root systems like trees does not necessarily need the water to be right next to the trunk of the tree or the stem of the plant. Over-watering is a common problem in irrigation. Lawns tend to be flooded and soil can only hold so much water before it is saturated wet. The more compacted your soil less water will be available for your plants root system so try not to walk or drive over garden beds and lawns when they are wet. Gardens have many different types of plants most require more individualized care. Moist soil as compared to wet soil is usually what gardeners should aim for. Remember new plantings usually require additional watering.
I hope these hints help you with irrigation in the future!