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20 Ways to Save Water with Drip Irrigation

  1. Plant it smart. Drought efficient landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plants and drip irrigation system. More importantly, it will save time, money and water.
  2. Adding a timer to your drip irrigation system can save hundreds of gallons of water and hundreds of dollars a year.
  3. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours.
  4. By using drip irrigation for shrubs and trees, the water is applied directly to the roots where it's needed, thereby saving water and money.
  5. Fall is a great time to landscape. Conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful, and you can run your drip irrigation system less.
  6. Check sprinkler, drip irrigation systems and timing devices regularly to be sure they operate properly.
  7. Install drip irrigation devices that are water efficient. Micro and drip irrigation are examples of efficient water irrigation methods.
  8. Check the root zone of your lawn or garden for moisture before watering. If it's still moist two inches down, you do not need to water it yet.
  9. If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption.
  10. Try to do one thing each day that will result in saving water. Don't worry if the savings are minimal. Every drop counts.
  11. By using a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation in addition to drip irrigation, you can save hundreds of gallons of water a year.
  12. Overhead sprinklers can damage crops, droplets act as lenses scorching the leaves. Avoid this by watering the roots with drip irrigation.
  13. Moist, well-mulched soil and strict weed control reduce the need for excessive summer watering.
  14. Sprinklers can use as much water in an hour as a family of four uses in a day and can actually damage some plants. This can be avoided by changing sprinklers out with drip emitters.
  15. Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.
  16. Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.
  17. Adjust your irrigation controller (timer) run time for seasonal changes in weather once a month. Simply making a monthly change to the irrigation operation times can save more water and money than any other thing you can do.
  18. As the seasons change, monitor the wetting patterns after you run your drip system. This will help catch any over watering that may occur and save you money.
  19. Collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants.
  20. Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture better than if it is closely clipped.

Benefits of Drip Irrigation:

  • Water Efficiency: Drip irrigation applies water only where it is needed, with less runoff and evaporation. Studies on drip irrigation systems show results of up to 60% more efficiency over sprinkler systems.
  • Root Zone: Targets the exact area where you want the water (for example, the roots) and allows you to deliver it at the exact time you wish (using a timer). By using drip irrigation, the water is applied directly to the roots where it's needed, thereby saving water and money. By delivering water directly to the roots, the plant experiences less stress and thrives. Many studies have been done showing that plants grown with drip irrigation verses overhead spray are generally much healthier, larger and produce more.
  • Quality Products: Drip Depot incorporates commercial grade parts and products whenever possible allowing for a much longer lifespan of the product. Many of our products have been brought over from the commercial Agriculture division. The products used for commercial growth have to last season after season. All of our products come with a one year warranty.
  • Versatility: Drip irrigation adapts easily to changes in the landscape. Systems can be used for containers, raised beds, vegetable rows or balconies. Drip irrigation can circle a tree or shrub at the dripline. Drip irrigation systems can be easily added to both new and existing systems and can work into those hard to reach or odd shaped areas. Reduces erosion on slopes (remember to place the emitter upslope, above the plant).
  • Conserves Earth's Resources: Population is on the rise, making it critically important to evaluate how each individual uses our Earth's precious resources, especially life-giving water. In the heat of summer, oftentimes over half of the water used by a household goes to irrigation of the landscape. Everyone would like to have a beautiful garden. We encourage you to make educated decisions about how they are maintained. For example, conventional sprinkler heads measure water applied in GPM, or Gallons Per Minute. Drip emitters and micro sprinklers measure water applied in GPH, or Gallons Per Hour. Drip irrigation uses less water, and promotes lush plant growth: both offering our planet a beautiful and abundant future.
  • Savings: Drip irrigation saves water.  You could experience up to a 50% reduction when using a properly installed and maintained drip irrigation system.
  • Reduction of Pests & Weeds: Avoid randomly watering your plants (and the weeds). By delivering the water directly to the roots of the plant with drip irrigation, you will inhibit weed growth as well reduce fungal pathogens like powdery mildew and other conditions caused by wet leaves.
  • Ease of Installation: Connects directly to the hose bib and doesn't require cutting water supply lines. Installing a drip irrigation system is a very simple process. Installs easily, plus the system components are relatively inexpensive. Kits are available or you can purchase individual components to customize and expand your system. If you are new to drip irrigation, many of our customers find that starting with a drip irrigation kit is a good way to go. The only tool needed that is not included with our drip kits is a pair of scissors.

July is Smart Irrigation Month!

Your irrigation system:  Save water, save money and see better results. Automatic sprinklers offer convenience and control in protecting your landscape investment. Irrigation systems help you to enjoy your yard and to keep it healthy and beautiful. However, most homeowners tend to overwater their lawn or waste water through inefficient habits. Adopting water-savvy habits is essential to maintaining and extending your community's water supply, especially during peak use.The key to efficient outdoor irrigation is applying just enough water and only when necessary. Water-wise habits will result in a healthier lawn and landscape in addition to conserving water. Plus, reducing your consumption will help reduce your water bill.The Irrigation Association named July Smart Irrigation Month to provide tips about smart practices and new technology. Continue reading to learn what you can do in July — and throughout the year — to operate your system at peak efficiency.

Drip Irrigation Definitions and Terminology

  • ANTI-SIPHON VALVE: a valve, usually plastic or brass, used to control the flow of water in one direction. It will prevent a backflow of water into the potable water supply.
  • GPH: gallons per hour. Used to measure the flow rate of low volume irrigation heads.
  • GPM: gallons per minute. Used to measure the flow rate of sprinkler heads.
  • PSI: pounds per square inch in static water pressure. Used to measure pressure. For example, the recommended operating pressure of a drip irrigation system is 25 PSI.
  • PC DRIPPER: A "Pressure Compensating" dripper with equal flow at any pressure between 10 to 50 PSI
  • DRIP SOAKER TAPE: a thin wall dripline with drippers preinserted into the line at 12" spacings.

What is Pressure Compensating?

Drip systems apply water to plants at very low flow rates. This minimizes evaporation losses and limits the water to the root zone of the plant by putting water where it counts!" Pressure Compensating, or PC, is a term used to describe an emitter that maintains the same output at varying water inlet pressures. Therefore, PC drip emitters compensate for uneven terrain, length of supply tube and varying inlet flows.

PC drippers facilitate controlled watering, as each PC drip emitter performs to a pre-set flow rate (e.g. 1 gallon per hour), allowing water emitted over a length of time to be easily calculated. This ensures more efficient watering, reducing the risk of overwatering or underwatering. A noncompensating dripper will have varying output flow at varying inlet pressures. Therefore, the flow will vary along uneven terrain, and each drip emitter will emit a different amount of water depending on its location on the supply line.

The pressure to a drip emitter can vary due to the slope of the land and the length of the supply tube. If an irrigation system is installed down a slope, there will be higher water pressure at the bottom of the slope than at the top, and noncompensating drippers at the bottom will emit more water than those at the top. PC drip emitters will emit the same amount of water all the way down the slope, providing more even watering on uneven terrain.

With all of that in mind, don't worry too much about PC versus non-PC. Usually the difference in output between a PC and non-PC dripper will be in the 10% to 15% range. Unless your water is VERY expensive or you have a VERY large area to service, the PC versus non-PC issue is mute.

History of Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation, also known as trickle irrigation or microirrigation, is an irrigation method that saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters.

Drip irrigation has been used since ancient times when buried clay pots were filled with water, which would gradually seep into the grass. Modern drip irrigation began its development in Afghanistan in 1866 when researchers began experimenting with irrigation using clay pipe to create combination irrigation and drainage systems, according to the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) and other sources. In 1913, E.B. House at Colorado State University succeeded in applying water to the root zone of plants without raising the water table. Perforated pipe was introduced in Germany in the 1920s and in 1934, O.E. Nobey experimented with irrigating through porous canvas hose at Michigan State University.

With the advent of modern plastics during and after World War II, major improvements in drip irrigation became possible. Plastic micro tubing and various types of emitters began to be used in the greenhouses of Europe and the United States. The modern technology of drip irrigation was invented in Israel by Simcha Blass and his son Yeshayahu. [1] Instead of releasing water through tiny holes, blocked easily by tiny particles, water was released through larger and longer passageways by using velocity to slow water inside a plastic emitter. The first experimental system of this type was established in 1959 when Blass partnered with Kibbutz Hatzerim to create an irrigation company called Netafim. Together they developed and patented the first practical surface drip irrigation emitter. This method was very successful and subsequently spread to Australia, North America, and South America by the late 1960s.

In the United States, in the early 1960s, the first drip tape, called Dew Hose, was developed by Richard Chapin of Chapin Watermatics (first system established during 1964). [2] Beginning in 1989, Jain irrigation helped pioneer effective water-management through drip irrigation in India. Jain irrigation also introduced some drip irrigation marketing approaches to Indian agriculture such as "Integrated System Approach," "One-Stop-Shop for Farmers," "Infrastructure Status to Drip Irrigation & Farm as Industry." 

The latest developments in the field involve even further reduction in drip rates being delivered and less tendency to clog. Modern drip irrigation has arguably become the world's most valued innovation in agriculture since the invention of the impact sprinkler in the 1930s, which replaced flood irrigation. Drip irrigation may also use devices called micro-spray heads, which spray water in a small area, instead of dripping emitters. These are generally used on tree and vine crops with wider root zones. Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) uses permanently or temporarily buried dripperline or drip tape located at or below the plant roots. It is becoming popular for row crop irrigation, especially in areas where water supplies are limited or recycled water is used for irrigation. Careful study of all the relevant factors like land topography, soil, water, crop and agro-climatic conditions are needed to determine the most suitable drip irrigation system and components to be used in a specific installation.