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The beauty that results compels many homeowners to take on the challenge of landscaping

The pros and cons of irrigation systemsMaintaining a lush, green lawn and thriving landscape that includes shrubbery, flowers and trees requires time, money, and often, some sweat equity.

However, the beauty that results from such effort compels many homeowners to take on the challenge of landscaping.

Forgetting to water the greenery or getting hit with a drought can cause a lawn to deteriorate rapidly. An irrigation system may seem like a smart investment, but homeowners should weigh the pros and cons of such systems before having one installed.

Irrigation systems are installed to protect landscaping so plants can thrive year-round. Irrigation systems come in various forms, from sprinklers to drip to surface irrigation systems. No system is necessarily better than another because each is designed to address specific watering needs.

Here's a look at various irrigation systems and the pros and cons of each.

Sprinkler system

Sprinklers are popular because they tend to be very affordable and easy to set up. Manual sprinkler systems utilize a hose and sprinkler head, while automatic systems are programmed and do all the work once they're installed. Sprinklers cover a lot of ground and can irrigate large spaces quickly. However, that same benefit can be a disadvantage as well.

Sprinklers are indiscriminate in their watering, sometimes hitting pavement or driveways. Also, the Gardening Channel says that water from sprinklers is lost due to evaporation on hot, windy days. In fact, as much as 80% of the water used may not make it onto the grass or plants.

Surface irrigation system

Sometimes called gravity irrigation, these systems use channels or furrows throughout the cultivation area. Once the water runs through these channels, gravity distributes it accordingly.

Surface irrigation systems require minimal effort but are best suited for farms and commercial enterprises because they require a large reservoir or pond to accumulate water. Also, uneven terrains can divert the water.

Drip irrigation system

This type of irrigation system is used primarily in arid regions. It is made up of lateral lines of flexible or rigid polyethylene pipe. Drip irrigation allows homeowners to focus watering on a particular garden area. It provides moisture directly to the soil. Therefore, there is no water waste from runoff or evaporation. Drip irrigation waters plants slowly and can cause less soil erosion and reduce nutrient leeching.

While easier and more effective than some other irrigation methods over the long haul, a drip irrigation system has a substantial startup cost. In addition, the system can get clogged at times. When gardening season is finished, a drip irrigation system will need to be drained and dismantled.

Irrigation systems can help care for plants and lawns. However, they can be costly and some require significant maintenance.

Weather and pests also can reduce the effectiveness of yard irrigation systems by damaging equipment or directing water in directions homeowners did not intend.

Customers are urged to do their research regarding which system, if any, is best for their properties.

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