Do I really need an irrigation system?
The full answer to this question is quite long, complex and different depending on the situation of each and every garden. The short answer for the majority of clients I have and meet is, YES.
Many books and magazines may try and sell you on having a drought tolerant garden, but this really depends on what you want your garden to look like.
The reason I say that you do need an irrigation system is because the majority of customers starting here a-fresh will need to plant new plants, and quite simply those new plants will require water, especially and mostly through their first year.
All of the plants we supply as a landscape company, come from local growers from within the region, and therefore the vast majority of the plants we source are naturally equipped to deal with the type of weather we get within the region. They are also used to the type of soil we have in the region, as much as this can vary.
The idea of a drought tolerant garden is not at all impossible, but this needs planning and time. It requires the planning and design of the garden, the creation of shade via trees that need time to settle and grow. Shade is the most important factor in not having to water, it's nature's way of cooling us and the ground down and giving us protection from the sun. Take a street with trees and without trees, then check the temperatures of the pavement and road on a sunny day, you will quickly understand. Plants that have shade require much less water than those planted in direct sunlight, and if they are tropical plants this is the environment they really thrive in and you will be rewarded with lush green foliage which looks spectacular.
Because of the type of plants we use they also only require the majority of water during the first year, especially summer. Once they are past this period it can be turned off during the winter period and then dramatically reduced during the future summers, as by this stage the plants will have their roots down in the soil and be happy.
The big advantage to having an irrigation system, is that even if you don't really need to use it, there may be some particularly hot days and weeks. Having the system in place can allow you to water your garden in an easy and efficient manner, in the knowledge that each plant is getting a drink. It saves hours of standing with a hose pipe, where you have very little control over the amount each plant receives.
Remember the best tip I can give anyone for an irrigation system, especially for bedding plants, is a little and often. When I say often, I mean twice a day.
Always avoid timing an irrigation system to come on when the ground is still hot, as it will just heat the water and cook your roots. Have it come on at the coolest points of the day around 0500-0600 in summer. If your system only allows a strict 12 hour period between watering then push the morning time to 0630-0700 as the temperatures will only just be starting to climb but they will also be past the most fierce times in the evening.
Charlesworth Gardens are specialists in the design and landscaping of gardens within the Costa Blanca.
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