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What is a drip irrigation system and why should you use one in your garden?

By 12th April 2023No Comments

The efficiency of any watering system is defined as the amount of water that actually gets to the roots of the plant. With standard watering from a watering can or a hose, that efficiency is about 45% to 65%. So pretty much half the water is wasted. It runs off, it pools, it evaporates or the inaccuracy of using a can or hose means it just doesn’t hit the target plant in the first place.

Drip irrigation systems will achieve between 95% and 99% water efficiency. That’s pretty impressive! Basically, you can use half the amount of water you would be using with a watering can or hose to get the same results for your plants.

Why is this the case?

Irrigation systems enable the water to get right down to the roots. The emitters (the little parts which the water comes out of!) are right down at the soil level. As such, they enable a very even distribution  of water over the whole vegetable garden or flower bed.

These systems are also slow release. Water is absorbed by the soil before it evaporates. It will not saturate the soil and run past the root zone. And, we can time the systems to work in early morning or even at night time which, again, helps reduce the evaporation.

Irrigation systems are labour saving

Watering the garden regularly during the summer months can be labour intensive. With a drip irrigation system, once it’s all set up, especially if you’ve got a timer, it takes no labour at all. Even better, maintenance is very, very minimal on these systems.

And the actual set up is relatively straightforward as well. For a smallish garden, you could probably get the whole thing set up within 2 or 3 hours and then after that, it’s just checking the filters and for any damage every now and again.

Watering with a hose or a watering does NOT mimic rain

It might seem that top watering as from a hose or a watering can must be better for plants as it mimics rainfall.

But in actual fact it doesn’t. When we water plants with a watering can or a hose, it’s actually much more intense than any natural rainfall. When you think about it, it stands to reason, because you’re not going to stand there watering your plants for an hour or so. You’re going to do it in a much shorter time scale so the actual flow rate, the actual intensity of the water being applied, is much higher than would naturally occur. And this can be damaging to plants. It can over wet the leaves, which can cause fungal problems and it can actually damage delicate plants and flowers or scorch leaves if the sun comes out after you have watered.

There are many studies that show that bottom watering/watering at the roots of the plant produces much more healthy plants, better growth and better yields. Professional growers have known this for decades which is why they use drip irrigation. With consistently irrigated and watered plants across the whole vegetable patch or the garden patch, you get better results.

Beat the hosepipe ban with drip irrigation systems

Climate change is making hosepipe bans more and more common here in the UK and lots of that hard work that you have spent in your garden or your vegetable patch can be wiped out if we get another severe summer.

With a drip irrigation system set up with a water timer and pressure regulator, because they’re so efficient, these systems are actually exempt from hosepipe bans. So you can protect your plants and garden whatever the weather!

Watch our video here for 5 Reasons You Should Consider Drip Irrigation.