The Benefits of Using an Irrigation System in Your Garden
Watering your outdoor garden by hand may connect you with your plants, but it isn’t always the most efficient method of giving them a drink. Switching to an irrigation system, however, could lead to better water conservation and many other benefits.
There is no denying the beauty of glistening water drops scattered over vibrant plants. The sun reflecting off water collected on leaves and vegetables seems diamond-like, and nothing says fresh like a hydrated garden.
However, though a wet garden seems like a happy garden, plants don’t need or want to be continuously wet from top to bottom. They absorb nutrients and water through their underground root systems, meaning water is wasted when it sits above ground. In fact, overwatering a plant or stagnant water on a leaf can be extremely detrimental to the plants’ health.
Watering your garden isn’t like watering your yard. Most grasses used throughout the US are extremely hardy, capable of resisting disease and rot caused by water. Garden plants and vegetables, however, need a gentler irrigation strategy for them to have their greatest output. Flowers and vegetables are sensitive to watering and thrive in a moist soil. While stems and leaves can manage being wet, it is inadvisable to continuously spray them with water.
There are multiple factors to consider in garden watering, and gardeners will often take advantage of a proper irrigation system to aid with optimal garden success.
What are the hazards of watering by hand and sprinkler?
“Hazards” may be a strong word, but we want to catch your attention and make you aware of a very common gardening mistake: wetting the entire plant. Often, the watering strategy we see employed is to get everything wet.
Whether it is through a hose, can, or sprinkler system, gardeners throw a vague amount of water at plants like rain. Although the environment seems like an appropriate role model, a gardener’s care and concern must go beyond that of Mother Nature’s comprehensive sprinkler system. First, it’s possible to not water all plants equally. Second, as mentioned earlier, gardens usually contain plants and vegetables more susceptible to external factors. Naturally, plants can get wet, but growing a healthy garden means minimizing potential threats. Overwatering or keeping stems and leaves consistently wet can lead to mold, disease, and rot. Damp areas under the leaves can grow mold. Water on plant leaves and fruit magnifies the sun’s rays on bright days, which can burn the plant. Preventative care is a gardener’s best strategy. Instead of putting gardens at risk of decay and unequal watering, irrigation systems can ensure the job is consistently well-done while mitigating plant hazards.
Irrigation System Benefits in Your Garden
On top of reducing risks to plants, irrigation systems conserve water compared to sprinklers and other aerial styles of watering. Some even create organizational patterns. Due to their design, which introduces water directly to where it’s needed, much less water is lost to evaporation. In today’s green mindset, conserving water is a major benefit to both the garden and the world.
Depending on what the purpose is, gardeners can find multiple irrigation system designs. Some are lines you perforate and snake through your garden rows, while some are built for square foot gardening. The square foot gardening irrigation systems are especially beneficial because they separate the garden into equal organizational squares. Gardeners can use these to space their plants appropriately, achieving even greater watering technique. The square foot garden planting and watering style swaps plant rows for a condensed growing area that is accessible from outside of the garden. With this condensed planting, soil is less exposed to the sun and when paired with a ground-level grid-based irrigation system, watering is dually efficient.
In addition to water conservation, organization, and threat reduction, irrigation systems provide the intangible benefit of time. Instead of spending more time unequally watering their crops, gardeners perform two simple steps that ensure near-perfect watering: First, checking the soil moisture (one to 1.5 inches of moisture depth is a good rule of thumb to maintain), then, if the soil is dry, setting the timer for a few minutes. This two-step process takes minutes to accomplish, allowing gardeners to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Written by Bryan Traficante & Wiley Geren
Bryan Traficante is one of the co-founders of Garden In Minutes, where he and his family have one mission: making it easier for people to build and grow great gardens. Wiley Geren is a passionate writer, teacher, researcher, and entertainment enthusiast. A graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in English and business, he researches and writes gardening articles with Garden In Minutes.