It’s generally not very difficult for beginning gardeners or homeowners who’ve recently had their yards landscaped to get outside and water their plants. Watching new plants or baby sprouts grow can be more than enough motivation to make sure they’re getting plenty of water and fertilizer. Eventually, however, the novelty of watering one’s plants by hand may wear off, or a yard or garden will just be too big to manage watering single-handedly—or even with the help of family members. Installing a sprinkler system can allow your plants to continue receiving the individual attention they deserve while freeing up time for you and your family to do other things.

What’s Wrong with Hand Watering?

Hand watering is the most common method of watering plants because it’s fairly easy and can be done for little more than the cost of the water itself. Unfortunately, because about half of all household water goes to the yard or garden, hand watering is also the quickest way to waste water—not to mention time. You have to run back and forth to fill up the watering can, or if you’re using a hose, you’re likely giving the pavement an unnecessary drink.

If you’re hand watering, chances are you’re either under- or overwatering your plants as well. Many plants fare better when watered in small amounts several times a day—and how many of us really hand water anything that often? Plants usually can’t absorb all the water and fertilizer that gets dumped on top of them at once. There’s also no faster way to spread bacterial and fungal diseases to all your plants than by watering them in this manner. If even a single leaf or stem harbors disease-causing fungi or bacteria, water can pick those organisms up, and as the infected water drips onto the leaves of other plants and into the soil, the bacteria and fungi are transplanted there as well—thus infecting the rest of your yard or garden. Keep in mind that this is a danger with any overhead watering technique.

How Is Automatic Irrigation Better?

Automated irrigation systems can save homeowners the trouble of even having to think about watering their lawns, although checking up on each plant occasionally to make sure the sprinkler system is doing its job is highly recommended. Because automated irrigation systems are usually intended to fertilize plants as well as water them, they can also cut back the amount of time spent fertilizing by hand. Installers will tailor your sprinkler system layout to the various species of plants throughout your yard or garden to ensure they all receive the appropriate amount of water and nutrients at the right frequency.

Automated irrigation or sprinkler systems are also a fantastic way to save water, particularly if you have a root zone system installed. Because plants take in water through their roots, the closer to their roots the water originates, the more water they are able to absorb before it evaporates or just travels away. Systems can even be installed in such a way as to avoid runoff, which is a major water waster.

It is possible to get all sorts of bells and whistles on your automatic irrigation system, too—things like soil or rain sensors that will let your system controller know when it has been or is supposed to be raining a lot, or if the soil around your plants is already adequately damp. If you decide to get a system without such sensors, make sure you manually switch your controller to account for weather events like heavy rainfall and increased or decreased temperatures. At the very least, you should alter the settings on your controller every season; plants’ water needs change the most drastically when the seasons shift.

Automated irrigation systems save time and money as long as they are programmed to make the most of the conditions in your yard or garden. It is possible to install an effective system yourself, or a local Best Pick sprinkler system professional can install one for you and answer any questions you have along the way.

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Sources: Greenhouse Product News; National Gardening Association; University of Georgia Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

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