A garden is often the centerpiece to an individual’s desire to eat healthier and to live a more natural lifestyle. As with most collection of outdoor plants, a garden is filled with green vegetation which is constantly thirsty for water. Without water, plants wilt and die. Overly dry conditions, which restrict a plant’s access to the water it needs, does not spell good news for anyone’s garden. To remedy the problem of getting water to the plants in an arid, dehydrated garden, people have developed all sorts of innovative irrigation methods. The following are a few irrigation methods that are particularly useful for ensuring that plants get the moisture they need.
The transportation of water from one place to another is a central theme in most irrigation systems. Since the invention of the bucket, people have spent countless hours carrying water to the crops in their fields. According to USGS, this type of irrigation is called flood (furrow) irrigation. To save on the burden of carrying water long distances, people learned to augment this process of irrigation by pumping water to the area where it is most needed. Allowing the water to run along the ground to provide moisture to plants is the basic goal of flood irrigation. To improve the efficient use of the water, many farmers level their fields to ensure that gravity does not prevent higher elevations from being denied water exposure.
Recycling runoff water, which is collected in ponds and pumped back on to the crops, is another clever way farmers efficiently use water to improve results with flood irrigation methods. When water conservation and recycling of water is a concern, the use of greywater is sometimes employed for modern gardens. Grey water refers to water that is generally reused from residential or commercial sources which is free of fecal matter. When used as irrigation water for crops, it is recommended that any grey water used for this purpose contains only soaps and other products that are both non-toxic and low sodium-based.
A popular method of modern irrigation is termed drip irrigation. Installing PVC pipes with pressure gauges and flow control valves is at the core of many drip irrigation systems. In a standard drip irrigation set up, pipes with holes drilled into them are either buried or run near the base of plants in well defined rows. This approach helps to more efficiently direct where the water is going and prevents a significant amount of the water evaporation problems associated with flood irrigation methods.
Employing the use of drip tape to safely distribute a steady supply of water to a large number of plants, all at the same time, helps to demonstrate why drip irrigation is an efficient, cost effective way to save water while transporting critical moisture to the plants of a garden. According to this source, it is important to note that drip, or trickle, irrigation typically involves a precision, controlled release of water at or around a plant’s root system. The water will sometimes be released as a continuous stream or more finely as a mist.
The early approach to spray irrigation arose as people used garden hoses with spray nozzles to distribute water over lawns and gardens. As spray irrigation became more advanced, the idea of poking holes in the side of hoses and walking about in a circle, to evenly distribute the water, became a popular way to irrigate large areas of property while saving time. Today, machines, metal frames and long tubes are used in center pivot style spray irrigation systems to cover even larger areas of crops.
An alternative method of spray irrigation is to use hanging pipes adapted with holes to spray water over large areas. If a row of plants is confined to a small area, such as near the perimeter of one side of a house, then it is possible to install rotating sprinklers to spray water on the desired area for efficient water exposure.
Water irrigation is a fundamental part of ensuring healthy plant growth. Efforts to transport water to crops in an efficient manner is an ever continuing field of study. Saving time, money and effort, while concentrating on the best way to conserve and employ water, becomes a critical path to establishing the overall efficiency of an irrigation system.