Modern gardeners have many irrigation methods available to them. While some gardeners prefer to spend time watering their garden with a hose, many others want to save time and effort by installing an irrigation system in their garden. There are many different types of garden irrigation, depending upon the garden's specific needs and area, the climate, and budget.
There are many different types of sprinklers available. Manual sprinklers can work for small areas of a garden. However, these sprinklers do not only soak the garden's soil, but also the leaves of the plants, which could cause fungal disease. In addition, the water from manual sprinklers may evaporate before it reaches the ground, and much of it ends up as runoff, making manual or portable sprinklers an inefficient form of irrigation.
Impulse sprinklers are a more efficient form of sprinklers. These sprinklers fire powerful jets of water in a circle. The water is deflected by a spring-loaded arm in the sprinkler, which produces a shock that sends the spray head spinning in a circle. Impulse sprinklers can also be set up on towers, or tripods, to reach over fences or hedges and irrigate a large area.
Another type of sprinkler is and oscillating sprinkler. Oscillating sprinklers have curved arms that rock back and forth and spread water in a fan shape. The water that comes from oscillating sprinklers can be blown away by the wind, but some oscillating sprinklers can be more focused to water specific areas of the garden.
Drip irrigation is considered by many to be the most precise of all the irrigation methods. In drip irrigation, water is dripped onto the soil near the plant roots, at a slow enough rate so that there is no water lost to runoff. Drip irrigation can greatly reduce a garden's water needs, and can be laid out to target specific areas of the garden that may require more constant moisture.
The technology that goes into drip irrigation has improved greatly. While the nozzles, or emitters, that dripped water used to clog frequently, self-cleaning emitters are now available, which rarely clog. Some in-line emitters are also pressure-compensating, so that irrigation lines that run downhill have equal amounts of water coming from each emitter.
A drip irrigation system can be hooked up to a watering clock, or electric timer, that will allow it to release water at present times or intervals. The better watering clocks are able to control more than one system so that different areas of the garden can be put on different watering intervals, according to their needs.
Although automating the irrigation system may help gardeners save time and money, they should be aware that some conditions may call for additional human intervention. For instance, on warm breezy days, the plants may require more water, and gardeners may wish to reset their irrigation systems during especially wet weather.
Written by Bronwyn Harris
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