When it comes to keeping gardens low maintenance, an automated irrigation system is essential. Installing an automated sprinkler system ensures that your landscape will get just the right amount of water, reducing wasted run-off, while reducing your landscape maintenance efforts.
There are many reliable and cost effective choices for automated sprinklers. The best choice for your automated irrigation system depends on many different factors;
- Soil type
- Plant type
- Flat terrain/slope
- Weather conditions
- Ongoing maintenance
Hunter Irrigation Systems-Why We Love Them
The key to utilizing spray irrigation responsibly rests in making sure the system is being properly moderated as seasonal climate change occurs. This ensures that the water that is being used is getting to the plants directly, and that they are not being over watered. This is why we suggest automated irrigation systems for the landscapes we install.
We utilize many different kinds of irrigation systems, but our favorite—and the one we use most often—is the Hunter irrigation system. These systems offer the most advanced technology on the market today. They can save water by their ease in the following:
Furthermore, these systems offer many cool accessories such as rain and soil sensors that monitor moisture in the soil. They can eve be set to shut themselves off when it begins to rain.
Since Santa Barbara County has a naturally arid climate and is subject to drought and water usage restrictions, conserving water resources, while maintaining your beautiful gardens, is a key principle of responsible, sustainable landscaping practices.
Working with your local climate is central to keeping landscapes low maintenance. Particularly in times of drought, it is important to consider the ecological benefits of planting drought tolerant materials.
Let’s consider the benefits and limitations of each landscape sprinkler and irrigation solution. There are two common types of automated irrigation systems:
1. Spray irrigation
2. Drip irrigation
Spray Irrigation for Santa Barbara Gardens
Spray irrigation is the most common method used in landscapes. Conventional spray irrigation systems distribute water quickly over a broad area, by means of fixed or moving sprinkler devices.
Spray irrigation systems which use mini-sprinklers and fine mist spray devices are very effective for creating a moist atmosphere around a large area, and are more water efficient than conventional spray irrigation systems with jet sprinklers.
In Santa Barbara, where water is particularly rare and precious, spray irrigation is used specifically in landscapes with lawns and ground covers where misting is required to keep plant materials hydrated.
Advantages for Spray Irrigation
- The materials themselves are lower maintenance which means less downtime and money in maintaining the system
- When properly monitored, they can actually use less water than drip
- Some plants absorb water better through overhead spray–groundcovers, lawns, many different types of hedges such as hydrangeas, and selected tropical plant materials to name a few
- Commercial Projects–spray keeps them extra clean
- Helps keep diseases such as mites at bay
Perhaps the most well known argument against spray irrigation is the excessive amount of water it can use. Many ecologists suggest that utilizing plant materials requiring a spray sprinkler system in an arid climate, such as Santa Barbara, is ecologically irresponsible. This argument does have merit. However, it does not necessarily follow that other irrigation systems will automatically conserve water. Drip irrigation, for example, can waste just as much water as spray if it is poorly maintained.
Drip Irrigation for Santa Barbara Landscapes
Drip irrigation systems are often the preferred method of irrigation in Santa Barbara landscapes. Water is delivered slowly and directly to the roots of the plants via a hose, which is literally full of tiny holes.
Benefits of Drip Irrigation
- Gets water direct to the root system
- Beneficial for certain plant material–larger, specimen trees, fruit trees and vineyards
- Can waste less water
- Fertigation-pumping fertilizer through irrigation-particularly successful in orchards and vineyards
Contrary to popular belief, drip irrigation is often more expensive, both in installation and maintenance. Drip materials are exposed to the elements and to animal life. They need to be maintained almost weekly, as the hoses tend to fall victim to being chewed, the drip emitters often break off in the sun or the emitters get clogged.
There are few ways to protect against these issues with drip irrigation. We suggest drip irrigation for our clients who don’t mind putting a little extra effort into their gardens—or like to have us do it for them. It all depends on you and your choice of plant material!
Now that you know some of the benefits and limitations of spray sprinkler systems versus drip irrigation systems, you may have a better idea of what will best serve the needs of your landscape. We are skilled in choosing the best irrigation solution to suit your landscaping needs!
Down to Earth Landscapes Inc. is located in Santa Barbara, Ca 93101 and for over 40 years has earned a fine reputation for installing and maintaining advanced irrigation and sprinkler systems. We pride ourselves on creating unique outdoor living environments. Give us a call.
Next week: “How to Plant a Low Maintenance Landscape”