July 5, 2017

SprinklerEven the verdant terrain around the Ann Arbor region can hit a snag when dry conditions happen. A professionally installed irrigation system is a great solution, but to make it effective, some knowledge about the different methods possible and the factors that impact their effectiveness is in order.

First, a look at the available choices.


Drip Lines

Conduits dotted with pores are buried in the ground to prevent evaporation. The water released by this method remains close to the lines, so it’s impractical for high-density plantings like turf grass.


Steady Sprayers

While the lines are below ground, the spray heads used in this system emerge above ground when in use to deliver a gentle veil of water radiating in a circular pattern. Steady sprayers utilize much more water than drip lines, but they require fewer conduits. This arrangement allows enough space in between for digging without the fear of hitting a line.


Rotary Sprayers

A narrow spout of water shoots a considerable length from a single point of origin with this setup, so equipment is kept to an affordable minimum. A lot of ground can be covered, but the downside is a lack of flexibility in dealing with asymmetrical yards.

sprinkler spraying on flower bed

Selection Influences

With this brief description of the basic sprinkler systems, it’s also useful to know what circumstances can alter their functionality. Here are the more important ones.

  • Acreage
  • Flora
  • Plot pitch
  • Soil absorbency



For an expansive lawn, a rotary sprayer that projects its stream a long distance from a single point makes economical sense. Small, narrow or irregular patches are better handled by a steady sprayer sprinkler system. Drip lines operate best in flower and vegetable gardens.



The torrent of water fired from a rotary sprayer can be too much for tender plants. It’s not a problem, though, for lawn grass and woody shrubbery. Because they broadcast water a fair distance at low pressure, steady sprayers are ideal for annuals requiring replanting. For permanent flora, drip lines supply efficient hydration.


Plot Pitch

The basic rule here is that as the incline becomes steeper, more surface water will run off in a set period of time. Rotary sprayers provide an opportunity between sweeps for the ground to soak. Steady sprayers throw out water too quickly for heavily tilted land. Set in the ground, drip lines are impervious to this consideration.


Soil Absorbency

While standard loam soils in the Ann Arbor area are adaptable, clay soil needs the time between passes provided by a rotary sprayer to drink in the water. A lawn with sandy soil that drains easily will benefit from the constant shower created by a steady sprayer sprinkler system.


Now that the pluses and minuses of each irrigation system have been established, it’s time to put them to work. Just remember that there’s no need to settle on just one. These different methods can easily be combined to handle any variations a landscape might hold.