Types of Landscape and Irrigation Systems

Landscape design can never be complete without an irrigation plan. It can get costly if you cannot water the plants on your lawn and garden. The plants will look very healthy during the rainy season, but they will wither when the dry season comes.

Irrigation costs money. Therefore, you need to choose plants that do not need lots of water. Once you do that, choosing a suitable irrigation system will not be an issue. It is also advisable to choose plants with the same water needs. This will make it easier to water them, and you can water them all at the same time.

The choice of an irrigation system will depend on the plants you choose. It will also depend on the terrain. Here are the four most popular types of landscape irrigation:

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is very cost-effective because it puts the water where it’s needed. As the name implies, the system transmits the water in drips (small amounts) of about 2 to 20 liters an hour.

The system delivers the water to the roots either from above or from pipes underground. This type of irrigation is suitable for vine crops, trees, and row crops, such as fruits and vegetables. It is also great for flower beds and ornamentals. Place the emitters according to the plants’ needs. However, to prevent shock, they should not be too close to the plants’ roots.

Drip irrigation can work on any landscape, provided it is farmable. You only need to plant the flowers in the contour line and lay the laterals (water pipes) along the contours. 

This irrigation method can work on most types of soils. But when using it on clay, you should apply the water slowly. This is to avoid surface runoff and water ponding. On sandy soils, you will need higher rates of discharge from the emitter to ensure the soil receives enough water.

Sprinkler Irrigation System

Sprinklers throw water upward, treating your vegetation to a shower similar to that of the rain. This method of irrigation is most suitable for morning hours when there is not much heat from the sun.

If you sprinkle water when the sun is high in the sky, you will lose a lot of it. It will most likely evaporate. While drip irrigation is good for deep-rooted plants, sprinklers are great for lawns. This is because the roots of plants do not go deep into the soil.

The sprinkler irrigation system uses many pipes to deliver the water and pump it into the area. The design of the sprinklers, the pump, and the operating conditions makes sure the system distributes the water evenly.

The sprinkler can also spray water under or over a crop canopy. However, it is not advisable to use large sprinklers on lettuce and other delicate crops. Large water droplets can damage the plants.

The sprinkler irrigation system is applicable on any slope, whether undulating or uniform, provided it is farmable. If possible, lay the lateral water pipes along the contours to minimize changes in pressure. This will provide uniform irrigation.

Furrow Irrigation

The furrow landscape irrigation system isn’t as complex as the others. In the furrow irrigation system, there are small furrows or trenches dug between garden beds. It is through these furrows that water flows to the plants.

This method is simple because you will just water a small area. However, gravity will force the water to irrigate the entire landscape. The furrow irrigation method can work with many types of land slopes, crops, and soil types. However, it is better to use it with crops that can damage easily. This is especially true if the water covers their crowns or stems.

Because gravity determines where the water goes, this system will work well where the land is gently sloping. The slope should be below 0.5 percent to void soil erosion. The minimum slope recommended is 0.05 percent to guarantee effective drainage.

Terraced Irrigation

If you build your home on a very steep landscape, the terraced irrigation system would be the best option.

In this method, you’ll have to create steps so it can retain water. Then, you can irrigate the top step, and water will flow down the terrace to the other steps. The terrace irrigation method can work with a variety of soils and plants. When your soil is sandy, just ensure the terraces don’t have many slopes. This may allow water to drain off faster. 

How to Choose an Irrigation System

If you see a landscape that’s always green, some irrigation may be taking place. Naturally, plants will wilt and turn brown if they don’t get enough water. Too much water can also destroy plants. That’s why you need to select the best irrigation system. Some factors you need to consider include:

Land topology: Sloped or hilly regions are difficult to irrigate. You can choose drip irrigation if you can run the laterals along the topographic lines. 

Soil type: The soil type in a landscape affects both the irrigation run times and the type of irrigation used. Clay soils hold much water, so they don’t require frequent irrigation. Sandy soils drain easily and will require frequent irrigation.

Local weather patterns: Sprinkler irrigation is not good if your area is windy and has low humidity. Such conditions lead to a loss of water at a higher rate because of evaporation.

Types of plants grown: Some plants require more water than others. On the other hand, some irrigation systems are also more expensive than others. High-cost irrigation systems are good for use on high-cost plants.

Final Words

The types of landscapes and those of the irrigation systems go hand in hand. You may have a good landscape in terms of terrain but choose the wrong irrigation system. Likewise, you can choose a good irrigation system, but apply it to the wrong landscape. It is advisable to seek professional help when trying to determine with the correct irrigation for your landscape.

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