Irrigation Methods: Spray vs. Drip

Irrigation has become common for property owners wanting high-quality landscapes in Florida. Turfgrass is a primary landscape component and the most commonly used single type of plant in the commercial landscape.

Even though Florida has a humid climate where on average the precipitation rate is higher than the evapotranspiration rate. However, the spring and winter are normally dry. The dry winter and spring weather and occasional large rain events in the summer together with the soil’s low water holding capacity make irrigation required for the high-quality landscapes desired by property owners.

Landscapes have specific irrigation requirements that are best met using different methods. Sprinkler irrigation systems are ideal for huge, flat areas that require a considerable volume of water. Whereas, drip irrigation systems are best suited for precisely watering plants or small areas that need a particular watering schedule.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of drip lines and spray irrigation.

Advantages of Drip Irrigation

Drip Irrigation (5.5 × 4.25 in)

  • Targeted Areas: The drip line method is effective for delivering water to particular areas. An appropriately installed drip irrigation system delivers water directly to the soil surrounding the roots of your plants. Drip irrigation lines bring water to your plants slowly, so that minimal water is lost from runoff or evaporation.
  • Everyday Water Usage: Well-designed drip irrigation systems offer water for the everyday water usage of the plants they support, avoiding the soil surrounding your plants from drying out. It also means you are not offering water to weeds that may invade your landscape. Using a timer and water meter together with the drip irrigation system offers automatic watering with accurate control of your landscape’s water usage.
  • Save Money and Water: If you have an irrigation system that waters your shrubs, trees, landscape beds, or container plants, consider choosing drip irrigation as an excellent way to save money and water.
  • Root Focused: In contrast to a sprinkler that sprays water on top of the whole plant bed, drip irrigation makes use of a network of special emitters and plastic pipes to target the roots of every plant, slowly applying the water where it’s required.
  • Simple to Souce & Install: Drip irrigation systems are simple to find and install. For effortless access just position the lines on the soil surface and then conceal them beneath a layer of mulch.

Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation 

  • Maintenance: Drip lines are designed to give concentrated, effective irrigation directly to the plants’ roots. Even though these systems are generally simple to install, you will need to check the emitters often as they might get clogged, drying out your plants.
  • Additional Material: Thoroughly irrigating a landscape or another large area using drip lines generally requires extremely long sections of the drip line. Large areas may need the installation of additional piping or a water pump to maintain sufficient pressure throughout the drip line system.
  • Hazard & Limit Lawn Machinery: As drip lines are designed to be placed on top of the ground, drip lines used in the landscape often present a tripping danger and limit the usage of line trimmers and lawn mowers.

Things to Know About Drip Irrigation 

  1. Drip Irrigation is Healthier for Plants: A drip irrigation system brings all the water to the roots of the plants, not their foliage. Drenched leaves promote fungal diseases that have the ability to kill the plants. Drip irrigation prevents nutrient runoff and soil erosion. Moreover, water goes directly into the soil to hydrate the thirsty roots of your plants.
  2. Adaptable: Landscapes are always changing, right? A few more flowers added here, or a few more feet added to the planting bed there. When unavoidable changes happen, a drip irrigation system can be effortlessly altered for your new plan.
  3. Not as Sturdy as Traditional Irrigation: A drip irrigation system is installed on the surface of your soil but under your mulch. If the mulch becomes thin, the sun can dry it out and cracks can develop in the plastic tubing. If the tubes are exposed, a lawn edger can cut them. Therefore, extra care is required to keep things running smoothly.

Advantages of Spray IrrigationSpray Irrigation (5.5 × 4.25 in)

  • Effective for Large Areas: Sprinkler irrigation is also a popular method for watering lawns and other huge areas. Sprinkler irrigation systems are designed to use large volumes of water that are stored in the soil for the plants.
  • Lawn Machinery Friendly: Permanent sprinkler systems also utilize buried water lines that let the use of line trimmers and lawn mowers.
  • Automatic Watering: One of the benefits of spray irrigation is that permanent systems are usually combined with timers to make an automated watering system.

Disadvantages of Spray Irrigation

  • Planning & Installation: When you are considering spray irrigation pros and cons, remember that they usually need extra planning and setup. Systems need accurate calibration to provide effective and efficient coverage for the area they are being used.
  • Damage: Sprinkler systems used close to buildings can cause damage to siding or fixtures if they are not properly installed or maintained.
  • Effectiveness: Sprinkler systems are also less effective than drip lines as they lose more water from runoff and evaporation, suggests the University of Florida. When you plan the landscape, ensure to plant where flowers and leaves won’t be harmed by a strong spray of water.
  • Fungi & Weeds: Sprinkler systems drench the foliage of the plants and can encourage the growth of fungi on the plants if they are overused. As sprinkler systems water areas randomly, they usually encourage the growth of weeds in landscapes and other areas not having ground cover.


If you choose a drip system, ensure it’s installed properly. It’s most effective when the drip is positioned directly under each plant that requires irrigation. If you go with a sprinkler system, ensure to also install a good timer that will let your system work according to city regulations. Watering times are in the limited hours of the morning since water can evaporate rapidly off the grass in the sun’s heat.

At Down To Earth, we offer a full spectrum of landscape services, such as site design, planning, installation, construction, landscape maintenance, enhancements, and irrigation system design and installation. Reach out to us today to hire our experts.