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Drip Irrigation Systems for Lawns and Gardens

How to Conserve Water: Drip Irrigation Systems

By Tobias RobertsRise Writer
Jul 3, 2018

The efficient use of water is one of the central tenets of a sustainable home. In recent decades, significant improvements have been made to promote more efficient water fixtures in the house. Older toilets use upwards of seven gallons of water per flush, and today´s high-efficiency toilets use only 1.28 gallons per flush. The EPA´s Watersense program is focused on certifying a wide range of faucets, sinks, and other water-saving fixtures throughout the home and claims to have saved upwards of 2.7 trillion gallons of water since 2007. 

While all of these improvements are undoubtedly important to help your household reduce its water use, around 30% of all water used by families is for outdoor use. The vast majority of that water is used to irrigate lawns and gardens. A low-flow showerhead might undoubtedly help you save a couple of gallons of water each time you take a shower. But if you really value water conservation and still want to have a green lawn and a beautiful flowerbed, finding ways to turn off those sprinklers will go much further in reducing your water consumption.

How Much Water Does the Average Lawn Use?

Over half of all outdoor water is used to irrigate lawns and gardens. It is estimated that around 50% of that water is wasted due to inefficient and improper watering techniques. For example, watering your lawn during the middle of the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest leads to much of that water evaporating before it ever makes it to the roots of the plant that you were trying to irrigate. 

Hot and arid regions, such as the Southwest United States, might dedicate upwards of 80% of their household water use to irrigating lawns during summer months. Even a small, 1,000 square foot lawn would use upwards of 300 gallons of water to deliver just a half-inch of water to the grass. This online lawn watering calculator will let you see exactly how much water your lawn requires and how much it costs to keep your grass green. 

Since a 2014 government report found that severe water shortages are expected in 40 of our nation´s 50 states within the next decade, finding ways to cut back on outdoor water use should be a priority for every home in the country. 

Are There Legal Issues Regarding Lawn Watering ?

In states and regions where water shortages are already a recurring reality, local and state governments have begun to enforce specific outdoor water use prohibitions. While it might be difficult for regulators to discover if you leave the faucet on when brushing your teeth, it certainly is easy to spot (and fine) homeowners watering their lawn during a record drought.

To name just one example, the Long Beach, CA water department recently passed a water use prohibition that limits homeowners irrigating their lawn to just three days a week. As water shortages become more common, restrictions and regulations will most likely only make it more difficult to turn on the lawn sprinklers.

What Are The Benefits of Drip Irrigation System?

So what is the alternative? Are we fated to let our lawns turn brown and dusty during the summer? Fortunately, there are other ways to deliver to your lawn the water it needs while also vastly reducing the amount of water used. 

Drip irrigation systems deliver small but precise amounts of water and nutrients directly to the plant's root zone, where water is most needed and most efficiently used by the plant. Through a complex system of lines and emitters, drip irrigation systems deliver water drop by drop and thus vastly reduce the amount of water needed to keep your lawn healthy. 

A properly installed drip irrigation system can reduce water usage by up to 70% compared to the average sprinkler. A drip irrigation system can help your grass or other plants grow more quickly as the correct amount of water is delivered directly to the root zone, and nutrients can also be sent through the lines and emitters.

Economically speaking, drip irrigation systems can also save you money. One irrigation company estimates that properly watering a 75 x 100-foot lawn will cost a homeowner around $50 each month. Drip irrigation systems will reduce your water needs by at least 50%, meaning that you can expect to save around $25 each month.

What Are The Best Drip Irrigation Systems on the Market?

While you could install your own drip irrigation system, there are several high-quality products on the market today that are inexpensive enough that they will pay for themselves within a year or two due to the annual savings on your water bill. (One thing to note is that you will want to make sure there is some filter to prevent roots and soil from clogging the emitters. Netafim USA has one such technology.) Below, we look at three drip irrigation systems for lawns on the market today.

Drip Depot

Drip Depot specializes in a wide range of drip irrigation systems for everything from greenhouses to container gardens to complete lawns. Their Standard Drip Irrigation and Microsprinkler Kit for Landscape allows you to smartly and efficiently water up to 1,396 square feet of lawn and costs just over $100. It comes as a complete, self-contained drip irrigation kit that includes everything you need to create a working system by simply connecting the system to an existing outdoor water faucet. It is relatively easy for people who have more extensive lawns to connect extra tubing and add more emitters to increase the system's overall size. 

Berry Hill Irrigation

Berry Hill Irrigation offers a landscape kit perfect for small lawns and only costs $75. This system comes with 200 feet of permanent in-line emitter tubing and is a great way to water either a small flowerbed or a tiny, urban lawn. 

Rain Bird Drip Irrigation Starter Kit

Suppose you don´t want to set up a drip irrigation system for your entire yard right away. In that case, the Rain Bird Drip Irrigation Starter Kit is a great DIY project that will let you see for yourself how much water can be saved by making the transition to drip irrigation systems. Their starter kit currently costs just over $30 and will let you easily irrigate up to 75 square feet. This system is perfect for small gardens or flowerbeds and can be customized and upgraded for larger areas. 

Bottom Line

Transitioning from sprinklers to smart drip irrigation systems will allow you to deliver precise amounts of water to where plants can best use the water. Not only will your lawn and landscape benefit, but you will also be cutting back on your household water usage—and saving money. 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-10T05:35:00+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.