Compare types of watering systems to find the most efficient option for your landscape.
Photo By: Ken Brown
Above-ground sprinklers are a popular method for irrigating large, open areas like lawns. Typically connected to a hose, these systems distribute water in a uniform manner and come in stationary, oscillating and rotating models.
Often set on an automatic timer, in-ground sprinklers can be installed flush to the ground, only popping up when they're in use. These systems are connected to a network of pipes underneath your yard and should typically be installed by a professional. If you plan on using in-ground sprinkler system, be sure to organize your plants into hydrozones — grouped according to low, moderate and high water use — to ensure that the right kind of head delivers the appropriate amount of water.
Drip irrigation systems provide plants with smaller amounts of water during an extended period of time. The slower process allows water to penetrate deeper into the soil to a plant's roots, making it an efficient method for watering perennials and shrubs. Unlike conventional sprinkler systems where a significant amount of water is often misdirected and wasted, drip irrigation works to directly impact specific plants, greatly reducing water waste.
Like drip irrigation systems, a soaker hose allows water to seep slowly into the soil during longer periods of time. Tiny holes are inserted throughout the length of the hose, enabling smaller quantities of water to trickle out continuously as needed. These hoses come in multiple lengths, offering the ability to water great distances, and can be set above ground or hidden beneath mulch. Photo courtesy of Rittenhouse
Rainwater collection systems can be used to store rainwater, which can later be used for irrigation. Installing a rain barrel directly under a downspout is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to harvest rainwater. More complex systems, which are often installed underground, require excavation and electrical hook up for the pump.