Watering a lawn is one of the most iconic pastimes of the residential gardener and landscaper. While it may seem like a simple process, many people tend to overwater or underwater their lawns. Turf grasses, for instance, need an inch of water a week to remain healthy, green and growing.
When summer comes, most people rush to water their lawns as much as permissible, especially under drought conditions. However, this promotes shallow roots. Instead, water your lawn early in the day but do it as infrequently as possible – once a week or so should suffice, and you should only do it slightly more frequently during a drought. Garden plants and vegetable gardens require the same care and attention.
Planning your irrigation system before you ever lay grass will save you many headaches. There are two major types of residential irrigation: drip systems and sprinklers. While they both distribute water to your lawn, drip systems target the root, while sprinklers offer an overall coverage of the plant. Both of these watering supplies usually require tubing, but they also need different irrigation tools, such as pressurized chambers and sprinkler heads, and may require you to shift around your garden furniture.
Drip irrigation is the most water-efficient irrigation system, since it delivers water directly to the root of plants. However, drip irrigation is either high-tech and expensive or extremely labor-intensive. You have to use precisely calibrated emitters to deliver the water on a computerized timer, or you'll have to regularly fill a porous clay vessel laid underneath the soil in your lawn with water and monitor the water distribution personally.
Lawn sprinklers are the most popular way to distribute water in residential landscapes. Water is piped to central locations in the yard and then sprayed through nozzles to the plants. Many sprinkler systems rotate, meaning that one sprinkler head can cover a significant portion of the yard, depending on force of spray. Modern sprinklers are often connected to timers, so you can adjust how often and for how long the yard will be watered.
Some consider sprinkler systems wasteful, since they require overlap of watering area. However, this overlap ensures a uniform distribution of water – if there wasn't overlap, there would be patches of your lawn that would never be hit by the sprinklers (or, the patches that did overlap would turn into mud). Some companies may make it look like you'll need to buy fewer sprinkler heads by spacing theirs out in a brochure, but head-to-head sprinkler systems are standard for proper water coverage.