Lawn irrigation is the process of watering your lawn to keep it healthy and green. It is important to irrigate your lawn properly — and regularly — not only to avoid water waste, but also to keep your lawn looking its best.
There are a few different ways to irrigate your lawn. While the most common method is to use a sprinkler system, you can also use soaker hoses or a drip system to distribute water throughout your lawn. In the process, you’ll be making sure your property value is at its highest, getting the most out of your outdoor spaces, and avoiding wasted water.
If you’re looking for a professional to help you with a new irrigation system, it’s a good idea to come to the conversation with your own understanding of how they work. Here’s a snapshot of everything you need to know about different irrigation options. Then, when you’re ready to consider the top local professionals for installation, contact At Home Pros first.
Automatic sprinkler systems and timed sprinkler systems
Sprinkler systems can be either automatic or manual. Automatic sprinkler systems are turned on and off by timers, while manual sprinkler systems are turned on and off by hand. There are pros and cons to each type of sprinkler.
Timed sprinkler systems involve a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach, so you always know your lawn is going to receive optimal hydration, even when you’re not at home.
Manual sprinklers also have some strong benefits, like higher efficiency and precision. If you have a specific part of your lawn that needs more moisture than others, you can tailor your watering strategy by simply moving your sprinklers to localize the water spray. This also limits your water usage as you don’t have to water your whole lawn in order to care for the areas that are dry.
When you upgrade your system from sprinklers to a more complex system, most homeowners pick from two choices: soaker hoses or drip irrigation. You can still use your garden hose to water your lawn directly or to fill up a watering can. (Watering cans are a good option for small lawns or for watering specific areas of your lawn.) But for larger lawns or gardening plots, a soaker hose is usually a good choice.
A soaker hose is a long gardening hose that lies on top of the soil and leaks out water to any plants along its path through small holes. The benefits of a soaker hose are numerous: They don’t clog easily, they don’t cost a lot of money, and they are super-easy to install.
The only maintenance a soaker hose needs is an unkinking now and again. Many hobby gardeners love soaker hoses because you can get them at most gardening centers and they are simple to use: Just attach the hose to your outdoor faucet and turn on the water.
There are a few cons to this irrigation system including minimal ability to customize, no precision, not underground.
- Hard to customize: This system is simple, but it gets lots more complicated when you start putting corners on your hoses. More junctures means more possibilities for those junctures to leak, which reduces the hoses’ pressure, making them less effective.
- Lack of precision: Unlike a simple sprinkler, a soaker hose does not offer localized precision. The holes along the length of the hose all produce a similar amount of water, and there’s no easy way to make some parts of the hose water certain areas more or less.
- Location restrictions: Soaker hoses lie on top of the ground and the grass. Although an underground system is harder to set up, it does a better job of watering the parts of the plants that need it the most: the roots.
Another way that you can water your lawn is by installing a drip system. Drip systems are slightly more expensive than soaker hoses, but may pay off in the long run.
A drip system works in the same way as a soaker hose does, with holes located down a line of flexible tubing. These holes (known as emitters) drip water at the roots, making a drip system the most efficient way to deliver water and nutrients to your plants’ most vulnerable spots.
Unlike a sprinkler system, which delivers lots of water to a large area, drip systems are a lot more precise and use water —an increasingly valuable resource — in the most efficient manner possible. There are two main types of drip systems: drip line and drip tape.
- Drip line: Made of heavy-duty round tubing, drip lines are sturdier and last a few years, longer than drip tape. If you have a garden with plants growing at regular intervals, you can buy drip lines with regularly set emitters. Or if you have a more irregular garden, as many of us do, you can get a drip line with emitters that you can set yourself, which makes it easy to customize.
- Drip tape: Located right underneath a layer of soil, drip tape has emitters down its length to seep water at the root level. You need to get a pressure reducer to make your drip tape work right, and you’ll need to replace the system every few years.
If your garden is very hilly, drip line or drip tape can help you keep an even level of moisture, no matter the terrain. The occasional replacement is easy as well, so if you accidentally puncture your watering line, it’s not difficult to put in a spare section.
No matter which method you choose, it is important to water your lawn deeply and infrequently. Deep watering helps your lawn’s roots grow deep, which makes them more drought-tolerant. Infrequent but effective watering also helps to prevent water waste.
The amount of water your lawn needs will vary depending on the type of grass you have, the climate in which you live, and the season. In general, you should water your lawn about one inch per week. The easiest way to determine whether your lawn needs water is by sticking your finger into the soil. If the soil is dry to the touch, it’s time to water.
It is also important to water your lawn early in the morning or late in the evening. This timing not only helps to prevent evaporation, but also keeps your lawn cool. If you water in the broad daylight, the sun will magnify through the water droplets left on the leaves and blades of grass, potentially scorching them. Watering in the heat of the day also promotes water evaporation, so it isn’t the most effective hydration method.
Here are some additional tips to keep your lawn healthy and green all year long:
- Water your lawn deeply and infrequently.
- Water your lawn early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Adjust your watering schedule according to the weather conditions.
- Use a rain gauge to measure how much rain your lawn has received.
- Aerate your lawn regularly to improve drainage; you can rent an aerator at your local hardware store or gardening center, or you can wear aerating attachments over your shoes and aerate your lawn yourself.
- Fertilize your lawn according to the recommendations of your local extension office.
- Mow your lawn regularly to the proper height.
- Remove weeds and debris from your lawn.
- Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to prevent weed growth.
- Apply a post-emergent herbicide to control weeds that have already emerged.
- Protect your lawn from pests and diseases.
If you would like to hire a professional gardener or lawn service to help promote lush growth in your yard, contact At Home Pros. We’ll connect you to reliable, local lawn care service providers that fit your needs and your budget.