How to Select the Right Irrigation System for Your Lawn

How to Select the Right Irrigation System for Your Lawn

A lush, green yard is the goal of every homeowner, and some parts of the country achieve this with just what falls from the sky. For others, a yard irrigation system is a must. Even in regions with adequate rainfall, dry spells still justify installing one. Besides, extra water on a regular basis not only keeps the grass greener, it helps control weeds by making the grass more competitive. There are three types of irrigation methods suited to the residential lawn, in-ground drip lines, pop-up sprayers, and rotary sprinklers, and determining which is best depends on such factors as lawn size, lawn shape, slope, and the amount of money the homeowner is willing to spend. It should also be noted that a combination of these three techniques can work nicely in a single yard.

In-ground Drip Lines
This method stands out for its extreme water conservation. Tubing perforated with small holes is placed below ground to provide a gradual supply of water directly to plant roots. With the water released beneath the surface, there’s very little evaporation. One drawback to this method is that the water doesn’t radiate out very far. This means watering lines have to be spaced pretty close, so a lot of them will have to be installed at greater initial cost. In a particularly arid part of the country, this might be cost-effective, but elsewhere, this only makes possible sense for irrigating a long, very narrow stretch of turf.

In terms of water usage, this technique is the most wasteful. Because it can broadcast water much farther than drip lines, it won’t require nearly as much piping.  In areas where water is plentiful and the soil is level, loose, and porous, the continual output produced by the spray heads is easily absorbed. This type of irrigation system is also able to broadcast water in rectangular patterns that fit within the typical straight borders of a suburban yard.

Rotary Sprinklers
While not as water efficient as drip irrigation, rotary sprinklers don’t consume as much as sprayers do. These systems rely on either impact heads or gear-driven heads. Since a light amount of water is delivered to a spot at a time while the stream moves on, sloped or heavy clay soils have time to soak up the water before the next pass is made. Impact-style heads are extremely rugged and can launch a jet of water dozens of yards, so only a few are needed. Installation costs are below the two alternatives. Gear-driven heads can project water as little as 15 feet, so this system can be fitted to relatively small lawns.

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