How a Drip System Works
A drip system consists of a series of small pipes that carry water under low pressure to your plants. Drip irrigation systems continually provide small amounts of water to the roots of the plants. A drip system is more efficient than a sprinkler system. It conserves water because it delivers water directly to your plants instead of spraying it into the air with the hope that it will soak into the ground and reach the plant’s roots. A drip system delivers water constantly and delivers the water where it is needed, resulting in healthier plants and lower water bills.
Traditional sprinkler systems operate at much higher pressures and deliver a large amount of water for a fixed amount of time. A sprinkler system typically delivers water quicker than the ground can absorb it. Because the water is not absorbed, it either forms puddles, which are unhealthy for plants or runs off or evaporates. A drip system, on the other hand, operates at lower pressures and delivers small quantities of water continuously. Most drip systems are more than 90% efficient when it comes to delivering water to your plants because the water is delivered to the plants slowly and continuously, allowing it to soak into the ground.
The most common drip system consists of a perforated hose, sometimes called a soaker hose, which is capped on one end and connected to a water faucet on the other end. The hose is looped around the base of the plants. Water moves slowly through the hose and drips out of the perforations in the hose and into the soil. The hose is flexible and can be laid out in virtually any shape to conform to your landscaping layout. You can make your drip system more efficient by covering the hose with mulch. The mulch hides the hose and helps to keep the ground moist.
More sophisticated drip systems (sometimes called micro-irrigation systems) consist of several components: a back-flow preventer, pressure regulator, hose fittings, tubing, and emitters. A backflow preventer prevents water from flowing from your drip system back into your house and is required by most municipalities. A pressure regulator reduces the pressure in your home water supply to a level that is appropriate for your irrigation system. Hose fittings and tubing are used to bring water to your plants. You route the tubing around your plants using the fittings. Finally, the emitters are the devices that deliver the water to the plants.
There are several different types of emitters: bubblers, drippers, and misters. You choose the type and number of the emitters depending on the types of plants you are watering and where you want the water delivered. Bubblers deliver more water in less time and are typically used for large plants such as trees and shrubs. Of all the emitters, these are the ones most similar to a standard irrigation system. A dripper, as the name implies, delivers water slowly to the plants right at the roots. A mister is used the provide humidity and delivers waters in a fine mist (you sometimes see these in the produce section at the grocery store or in waiting lines at amusement parks).
A drip system is easy to design, install, and expand. It requires very little to no digging to install. A soaker hose is very flexible and can accommodate virtually any landscape. A drip system is a great option for DIY warriors who can install a system themselves and save a considerable amount of money. The bottom line is that a drip system are a great option, whether your goal is to protect the environment, save money, grow healthier plants or use an irrigation system that is easy to install and maintain.
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