Compare Systems

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Hoseand Sprinkler

Uses

  • Lawns
  • Larger garden beds

Advantages

  • Sprinkler is inexpensive and easy to use
  • Used with a timer for added convenience
  • Excellent for beds that need infrequent watering

Disadvantages

  • Uneven watering
  • Hard to avoid overspray
  • Water loss from evaporation

Watering Wand

Uses

  • Individual plants or small beds
  • Containers
  • New trees or plants mixed with established plants

Advantages

  • Easy to water individual plants
  • water only the roots

Disadvantages

  • Time consuming to water large areas

Soaker Hose

Uses

  • Level garden beds
  • Food gardens
  • New trees and shrubs

Advantages

  • Takes less time than hand-watering
  • Less evaporation
  • Use a timer for regular watering

Disadvantages

  • Does not work well on slopes
  • May accidentally overwater, since water is not easily visible
  • Some soaker hose materials may release heavy metals
  • Easy to damage when digging
  • Proper placement is important to make sure the soil is evenly moist; difficult to tailor to the needs of individual plants
  • soaker hose may break down relatively quickly if not covered by mulch

Learn more about dripline and soaker hoses or view a video on how to use a soaker hose

Dripline

Uses

  • Garden beds that need regular water—slopes OK
  • Food gardens
  • Fruit & other trees that need water after established
  • Containers
  • Trees, shrubs, perennials

Advantages

  • Very efficient
  • Waters evenly on slopes
  • Can tailor system to plants & soil
  • Can use a timer for regular watering

Disadvantages

  • Needs to be properly installed & maintained to work well (may need help from a professional)
  • High-quality drip parts can be expensive

Learn more about dripline and soaker hoses.

Automatic overhead Sprinkler System

Uses

  • Larger lawn or garden areas that require regular watering
  • Advantages
  • Convenience—no watering by hand
  • Waters while you’re out of town

Disadvantages

  • Less efficient than most other methods, especially if spray heads are used (typically wastes 40 percent or more of water used)
  • Expensive to install
  • Requires annual tune-up & regular maintenance
  • Water use & bills usually higher than other watering methods

Learn more about automatic irrigation systems

Questions? Call the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 or email help@gardenhotline.org