Drip Irrigation vs. Spray Irrigation: Which Saves More Water On Your Commercial Property?

Ben Collinsworth

memorial-herman-medical-texas-3-567808-editedSlow and steady, or fast and furious?

Both irrigation methods have pros and cons, so it’s important to figure out what will work best for your commercial property.

Finding the right type of irrigation system for your site will not only cut costs, but it will also conserve natural resources — which is especially important with the drought conditions and water conservation efforts in Texas.

The focus on conservation and water regulations are only going to continue to grow in the future, so you need to make water a priority, as well.

While the need for an irrigation system is clear, you might not know what type of system is right for your commercial property.

To help with that, we’ll discuss how drip irrigation vs. spray irrigation systems work, plus which one is best for your landscape.


Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip vs Spray IrrigationA drip irrigation system delivers water slowly, which helps prevent runoff, evaporation and drift during windy conditions.

It has drip emitter tubing that’s installed above ground, but they can be covered with mulch or soil to keep them out of sight.

The size of the tubing and spacing needed will depend on the soil type on the property.

For example, sandy areas require more gallons per hour (GPH), and clay soil needs less since it absorbs the water more slowly.

They are efficient for foliage areas that have specific watering schedules or needs. The drip system targets plants, helping to prevent over-watering — which reduces utility costs and conserves water.

The system can also get water to hard-to-reach areas and sloped landscapes. By watering only specific spots, the system cuts down on plant disease risks caused by overwatering.

Drip irrigation systems take less time to install than spray systems, so there’s cost savings there, as well.

Since drip irrigation systems are designed to water plant roots, they aren’t as suited for large turf areas.

Also, the tubing can become clogged, but a normal installation includes filters at each valve. There are also products that can be added to the system that break down hard water.

Since it is above ground, it could be damaged by maintenance equipment or pose a tripping hazard. So, they are best around bed areas.


Spray Irrigation Systems

irrigation-spray-headsWhen you have a large, fairly flat property, a spray irrigation system might be the best solution for your maintenance needs.

The system delivers large amounts of water to a wide diameter.

As opposed to drip systems, spray irrigation heads are installed underground. So, there’s less chance people will damage or trip over them.

These systems also give landscapes uniform water distribution, and the spray patterns can be adjusted. When properly installed, spray systems can provide specific amounts of water to areas with different water needs.

For example, seasonal color beds should have separate valves from turf and bed areas, since these have different water requirements.

But there can be downsides to these systems. Since they do spray everything evenly, there’s the chance they will wet foliage unnecessarily and increase the chance for plant disease. The systems must also be calibrated to ensure efficiency.


Work with a Professional

When it’s time to install an irrigation system on your site, don’t just guess whether drip irrigation vs. spray irrigation is right for the property.

Talk with one of our irrigation and water management professionals at Native Land Design, and we can explain which system will work best for your site.

Even if you already have an irrigation system installed, we can make sure it is working properly and not wasting water and money. We’ll start with an irrigation audit, use the process to identify any issues with your system and provide you with cost-effective solutions.

Call or email us to learn how we can improve your commercial project.

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Image Credit: Drip Irrigation

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Ben Collinsworth


Before Ben founded Native Land Design in 2001, he earned a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture from Texas A&M University. He’s an active member of ASLA, HBA of Austin, NHBA, PLANET, and BOMA. Ben, his wife and their three children reside in the Cedar Park area.

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Native Land Design has reliably been servicing The Domain (Austin, TX) for four years and continue to be attentive and thorough in their care. We are extremely appreciative of their efforts and hope to have a long lasting relationship. We would recommend them to anyone looking for a solid commercial landscaping contractor.

Melissa Kreutner, Property Manager, Endeavor Real Estate Group