Landscape Irrigation: Different Types

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Landscape irrigation is primarily a watering system used to create and maintain gardens, lawns, and custom landscapes. A landscape irrigation system’s primary function is to ensure that water is spread evenly and regularly throughout the given landscape. 

Only a handful of places in the world do not require complex landscape irrigation systems. For the rest of the world, especially in the driest climates, lawn irrigation is almost needed regularly. Whether basic or high-tech, irrigation systems can distribute the right amounts of water in the right places – which is essential to lawn care.

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It is important to note that the type of irrigation design and the system required will often depend on several factors. It can depend on the size of the lawn or garden, underground utilities, geographical location, and even env regulations. 

The water requirement will also depend on the different types of plant life involved, such as trees, flowers, vegetables, and even the type of grass grown in the landscape. Even with so many factors involved in landscape irrigation and systems, four basic types of irrigation systems exist. It includes drip, mobile, overhead, and underground lawn irrigation systems.

Types of Landscape Irrigation Systems

You may think about it, but how you water your garden can significantly impact your water usage. At the same time, it can affect your home’s appearance too. If you have always watered your lawn with a hose or sprinkler system, you may already know how much water you may waste. 

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There are many ways to water your garden, landscape, and property. One such topic is landscape irrigation which is a complex and interesting one. Here we discuss different types of landscape irrigation that you can use to keep your plants looking their best.

Surface Irrigation

Surface irrigation is what many homeowners use, especially if they have a small property. This method involves applying water to the soil’s surface and allowing it to trickle down into the root systems. 

It is considered surface irrigation if you use a hose, watering can, or hose and sprinkler attachment. It is considered to be one of the most popular landscape irrigation methods. However, this method is incredibly inefficient and labor-intensive. 

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The distribution of water is uneven, which often leads to parched or waterlogged plants. This method is best if the owner waters the yard rather than utilizing an automated process, which might lead to missed watering.

Drip Irrigation System

Drip irrigation is an excellent choice for watering your landscapes that are on uneven terrain. It is also ideal for windy areas or that have groups of plants in between throughout as opposed to an expansive grass lawn. This type of irrigation system uses a series of pipes and tubing that can deliver water directly to the bases of plants.

This method helps cut down waste water due to evapotranspiration and wind scatter. Like some other landscape irrigation methods, you can hook the drip irrigation systems to an irrigation or smart irrigation controller. It will allow for greater ease of use and water and energy efficiency.

You would use drip systems commonly used for your flower and vegetable gardens. A drip irrigation system is quite simple, and you must install overhead piping with tiny holes. These holes will allow water to drip out at a steady rate. The following sophisticated system will use particular components to control the same water flow. 

Most of these drip irrigation systems are considered cost-effective. They are also an env-friendly alternative to sprinkler systems. The reason is that the sprinkler system uses more than twice the amount of water to maintain a garden or other similar landscape.

Mobile Systems

Mobile systems are preferred for lawn irrigation. You will also find it suitable for flower and vegetable gardens. This type of garden irrigation system often utilizes standard consumer-grade sprinklers and garden hoses.

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You should move and reconstruct these mobile systems periodically.

Sprinkler Irrigation

When you think of landscape irrigation, then you think of sprinkler systems. Most underground sprinkler irrigation uses a series of pipes and sprinkler heads that often deliver water to plants. These sprinklers spray water into the air above them. 

You can also install sprinkler systems with irrigation controllers like drip irrigation systems. Sprinkler heads can retract and pop up during watering. The best part is that – sprinkler irrigation systems lead to water waste due to evaporation. But most smart irrigation controllers can mitigate this risk. It is possible as these sprinklers take weather reports into account when they trigger the sprinkler system.

Blended Systems

One way you can reduce waste is to utilize a blended irrigation system. It combines sprinkler and drip irrigation for use in different landscape areas depending on the requirement. You can optimize the watering efforts by using sprinklers on grass and drip irrigation for trees, bushes, and flowers.  

It is important to note that a smart irrigation controller is a must in these blended systems. An intelligent controller can schedule and coordinate watering times. In addition, it can also control the durations for different zones, taking rain and weather forecasts into account.

Landscape Irrigation Design

Do you want to use graph paper to plan out your space? You should figure out a system that will work for you. First, draw your landscape on graph paper using a pencil. 

You will usually have two primary choices when designing a landscape irrigation plan. Once you define the geometric spaces like most lawns are squares or rectangles, you will likely choose rectangular spacing. For irrigation design, driveways or sidewalks are irrelevant. The sprinklers will usually sit along the perimeters and in the corners per your layout.

Are you dealing with an irregular-shaped lawn? The plan that uses triangular spacing will work best. Rather than marking square grids, your design should be based on equilateral triangles. All the sides are of the same length of triangles.

This method will offer better coverage than rectangular spacing does. You will need to select multiple sprinklers to cover the distance. 

How far apart the rows of sprinklers should be placed is determined by the rating of the sprinkler head. You should aim for coverage from the sprinkler head to the next one. Some overlap might occur. 

Note that the spray is usually less than that quoted. The reason being these sprinkler heads are tested in prime conditions. If you live in a windy area, there are chances that the wind is going to blow the water and affect coverage.

Landscape Irrigation Tips

Water your plants deeply and infrequently

Water your plants deeply and infrequently. Once you have evaluated the water needs of each irrigation zone in your garden or yard, you should schedule the controller to apply the water. You should water your plants deeply, allowing the topsoil to dry in between irrigations. 

It will help promote deep root growth and healthy plants in your garden. Try to determine the root depth of the plant crop and always irrigate to fill that root zone. It is also important to note that watering too deeply, beyond the root zone, will waste the water.  

Turfs have relatively shallow roots, which is why they must be irrigated more frequently but less intensely. In contrast, most shrubs have deeper root zones. But trees generally have the deepest root zone. It is important to note that the height of the plant above ground can be a general guide to the relative depth of the plant’s root zone.

You should limit irrigation to frequent, shallow irrigation as it can force the surface rooting of plants. Otherwise, it would have deeper roots.

Cycle sprinklers on and off

On days you water, you should cycle your sprinklers on and off. It will give the water time to soak into the ground. Sprinklers usually apply water at a faster rate than the soil can absorb it. This may cause wasteful runoff. This process could be a problem, particularly when irrigating on slopes or heavy clay soils. 

You can solve this problem quickly. You can change the timings of the modern irrigation controllers. You should schedule it so that there are enough before-start times to allow the water to absorb deeply into the root zone. Thus eliminating run-off. 

When you irrigate manually, reduce the sprinkler’s flow rate and move the sprinkler frequently. Multiple start times are not recommended for drip irrigation systems as they use very low-volume emitte.


Read related topics on vegetable farmcruciferous vegetableswater sprinkler, plant nurserytropical fruitsmanual irrigation, ground water, sprinkler system, drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, and more.

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