If you are frustrated by the water bill each summer but you don't want to give up your large garden, then you need to have an irrigation system installed. These systems can help you not just better manage the amount of water you use, but also better irrigate your plants so they grow better and more healthily than they every have before. The following are three of the main things to keep in mind when designing your new irrigation system.
#1: Go low
When it comes to watering, low is better than high. Most non-automated watering methods sprinkle water down on top of plants, similar to rain. What this means is most of the water is collected by leaves, flowers, and fruit — not by the soil and roots that need the moisture. In the end, much of the water from overhead delivery is lost to evaporation. Even worse, the moisture that sits on top of the leaves and flowers can encourage the growth of fungal pathogens that can damage or kill your plants. This is because the upper surfaces of plants aren't supposed to be wet all the time. A drip irrigation system uses water lines equipped with drip emitters. The emitters are placed so that water is delivered right to the soil at the base of the plants, so the upper surfaces are never wet and water is rarely lost.
#2: Use mulch
To further cut down on the amount of moisture lost to evaporation, combine mulch use with your irrigation system. For drip emitter systems, either plastic mulch in a vegetable bed or fabric mulch in a perennial flower bed will protect the soil from moisture loss (and weed invasions) without clogging the emitters. If you don't like the look of fabric in your ornamental gardens, you can cover it with a thin layer of bark mulch. Opt for the larger bark chip mulch instead of the type that has small pieces and shredded wood, as larger pieces are less likely to clog an irrigation emitter.
#3: Micromanage delivery
Finally, micromanage the delivery of the water. It's highly unlikely that every plant in your garden has the same water needs. Use separate water lines and irrigation zones so you can provide exactly the amount of water necessary for a specific plant's needs. Combine zoning with a the use of a moisture meter — you can have meters wired into your irrigation system. Then, the system will only supply as much water as determined by the meter.
For more help, go to websites for local irrigation services.