Many plant problems are water related; it’s easy to water too much or too little. Drip irrigation systems are targeted, water efficient irrigation systems that deliver a slow trickle of water to the plant’s root system. But how long should you water?
A drip irrigation system puts out water much more slowly than a traditional sprinkler system so watering is going to take longer – hours, not minutes. It’s important to understand the differences so your plants don’t get used to a shallow watering program. Too little water and the roots stay near the surface where they are more subject to drying out quickly, stressing the plant and making it vulnerable to disease.
With a drip irrigation system, water deeply, but infrequently (once or twice a week). Apply enough water to penetrate the soil to a depth of approximately 20 cm. Use a soil sampling tube or dig down by hand to see if the soil is properly moist.
It’s also important with a drip irrigation system to use enough emitters for the plant – more than one – and they should be spaced evenly around the tree or shrub. Their spacing will depend on your soil type.
A typical summer watering schedule in a raised vegetable garden with a drip irrigation system is to run it twice a week, several hours at a time. However the best regime for you will depend on your weather, soil type, slope and crops.
To water trees and shrubs consider using micro-sprinklers or sprayers. They thoroughly wet the root area and put out more water. Depending on the temperatures, during the summer you might run them for an hour, once or twice a week.
Drip irrigation systems will produce healthy thriving plants – so long as they’re used properly to allow thorough watering.