Drip Irrigation Tips

Plants and Utah shrubs require different watering schedules and water amounts than lawns. Drip irrigation is ideal for Salt Lake City landscaping, helping deliver water slowly to plants’ roots.

When determining a drip irrigation schedule, there are several factors that homeowners must take into consideration. For example, the watering needs of each individual plant, the condition of the soil and how much shade/sun a particular area receives on average.

First, homeowners must determine the rate of flow for their drip irrigation system. A homeowner can easily do this, as he/she simply determines how many seconds the system takes to fill a tablespoon. For reference points, this is typically measured in gallons per hour (gph). Homeowners should bear in mind that 14 seconds typically equals one gph, seven seconds equals two gph and four seconds equals approximately four gph.

Drip irrigation allows for less frequent watering than traditional sprinkler irrigation systems. During the summer, drip irrigation should be used approximately three days per week; two days per week during the spring and fall months and one day or less during the winter. Winter watering schedules vary greatly depending upon the area and climate. For example, this is a good general rule to follow in average winter conditions; however, completely unpractical for the rain-drenched Seattle area that requires no irrigation watering during winter months.

There are a number of different types of drip emitters that are commonly used in gardening and easily incorporated into landscaping. High-flow emitters use up to 20 gph, with a mere 12 minutes per watering schedule. Low-flow emitters use a range from four, two to one gph and require between 30, 60 to 90 minutes of watering each cycle.

Properly maintaining drip emitters and drip irrigation is essential to efficient watering. Drip lines should be inspected periodically to ensure the heads are not clogged and are debris-free. An inspection should also include confirming that the emitter is releasing the appropriate amount of water.

Experts recommend flushing drip irrigation systems every time an irrigation schedule is changed, or at a minimum of twice annually. This can be accomplished by locating the “end cap” on the drip line, which should be located at a point furthest from the valve box. Open the cap, run the system to flush out all debris, turn the water off and recap the line.

Maintaining drip systems ensures that they will last for years to come and that homeowner’s beautiful Utah landscaping will retain its dramatic beauty and curb appeal.