Drip Irrigation Overview For Perennial Plants

Posted on: 7 January 2015

Perennial flowers and shrubs have different watering needs than your lawn grass. Installing a permanent drip irrigation system in conjunction with your sprinkler installation can help you meet these needs, while encouraging the best health of the plants.

Drip Benefits

When it comes to the perennial flower garden, drip irrigation offers several key benefits compared to hand watering or overhead sprinklers. A few of these are:

  • Leaves and flowers stays dry. Water droplets on foliage and flowers can encourage mildew and fungal growth on your plants, leading to disease, flower loss or death.

  • Drip is more water efficient. Overhead watering in a flower garden results in a lot of moisture loss through evaporation. Drip irrigation delivers the water directly to the base of the plants, so the moisture soaks right into the soil.

  • Watering takes less time. Hand watering can take a lot of time, especially if you have a large flower bed. An automatic drip system doesn't require daily work.

System Basics

Drip irrigation is either manual or automatic. Manual systems are best used in vegetable gardens and annual flower beds, where the lines will need removed and relocated each year. An automatic system is better for perennial beds. It's usually tied into your main lawn sprinkler system, so you can control it from the same control box. You can have it installed at the same time as the lawn sprinklers, or add it on later.

The system consists of drip irrigation lines which run along the plant rows in the garden. In an automatic system, these are usually buried. Emitters are on the surface at regular intervals. The emitters drip the water out onto the soil and control the flow of water. Your installation technician will arrange these so they benefit the plants best, as well as select the best flow for the plant needs and your desired watering level.

Ongoing Maintenance

Just like the rest of your sprinkler system, the drip system will require some basic annual maintenance. Automatic, permanent systems with buried lines aren't as prone to line damage as above-ground temporary systems. Lines will rarely require replacement unless there is a leak. The emitters will require periodic replacement, just like a sprinkler head. Normal wear-and-tear and clogs from dirt and debris are the main causes of emitter problems.

To maintain the lines, pull back mulch in the garden so it doesn't cover the emitter. If you have a line the protrudes above ground, mark it clearly so it isn't damaged by a lawnmower or string trimmer. In fall, turn off the sprinkler system, including any drip lines. The lines will also need drained at this time so they don't freeze and burst.

For questions on sprinkler system installation, contact businesses such as T & J Landscaping & Lawn Maintenance Service