Should you use a Drip System?

Micro Spray - The Good and Bad of Drip Systems

Drip systems have long been touted as a great way to reduce irrigation waste because the water is slowly placed near the plant. In many situations drip systems do exactly that. We use drip systems extensively in our nursery. They work great in pots and small planters and in situations where the trees or shrubs are placed without a lot of other plants around them such as a fruit tree grove.

Drip systems need maintenance and regular inspections and they are not appropriate in a lot of places many of us try to use them. If you are using drip sprinklers on trees you should move the drips outward and add emitters as the tree matures because the most active roots are near the drip line. If there are many plants that you are needing to water in a planter it is better to saturate all the soil in the planter; most types of drip systems will not do this. In this situation a leaky type pipe placed 12-18" apart (depending on soil type) or try using micro sprays that water similar to a conventional sprinkler but only spray a few feet.

On a slope where you are trying to encourage root growth for soil stabilization a conventional sprinkler system is probably better. The roots are going to follow the water and if the drip system is not saturating the whole slope the roots are not going to grow where there is no water.