Irrigation is for all intents and purposes the application of water onto a plant to assist in it's growth. Irrigation done right, is an incredible tool that will save you considerable time and money, done wrong it can cost you your home.
Inground sprinkler systems are the most popular irrigation system used in the maintenance of landscaping. Drip irrigation is also popular but people are often confused by when and where to use it to it's fullest potential. So let's cover some of the basics and see if we can't unravel a bit of the mystery behind irrigation.
Drip irrigation is exactly what it sounds like, the system is laid out in a pattern that works best for the planting area in question and water is dispersed directly to the plants in the form of water droplets which fall gently to the soil to nourish the roots. No splash, no mess, no fuss. Drip irrigation is the perfect solution to any plantings that are done near the home/building. Why? You can directly control the moisture content of the soil near your building much more effectively with drip irrigation than you can with an inground sprinkler system. The purpose of a drip irrigation system is to provide water to the plants' (flowers, shrubs, etc) root system with the least amount of evaporation during the process. By having more control over where that water is being applied, we reduce the chances of saturating the soil surrounding the foundation and moisture issues caused by the exterior of the building constantly being kept wet.
Inground sprinkler systems will keep your lawn green and your house green too if those heads aren't set properly. Too much moisture on something that doesn't need it to survive causes mold issues. It can also cause a buildup of moisture loving pests. Your house/building doesn't need to be watered and yet so many are on a regular basis because the sprinkler heads aren't properly placed. We're talking about an environment that has many variables one of which is wind. The wind speed and direction can take an inground sprinkler system and turn it into a window washing system or wash your driveway or the road instead of actually watering the lawn. I've driven through more than one "car wash", I'm sure you have too.
When we apply too much water or water in the wrong places we cause problems, problems which can be hard to correct later on. Plus we're spending extra money in fertilizer, pesticides, electric and water. The thought of having a system that turns itself on automatically is fantastic, but not if it has rained for 3 days straight or if the lawn area was treated for pests and the insecticide/pesticide needs time to work. There is another aspect to consider, regulations concerning pest control and the application of pesticides are changing, so we must change with them. By working together we can keep the world "green" and healthy and manage pests in a positive way.
Be proactive, check out your current irrigation system to make sure it's functioning properly and actually doing the job it's supposed to do. If your house/building is getting hosed, so are you and your wallet! If you're just thinking about having an irrigation system installed, explore your options and educate yourself so that you get the right system for your needs, not just the one they want to sell you!