Lawn Care For Dummies
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Choosing an irrigation system is about convenience, efficiency, and water conservation. Deciding on portable sprinklers or an in-ground irrigation system basically comes down to cost versus time and convenience.

Portable sprinklers aren’t necessarily the most efficient system to use to water your grass. You know — hooking up the oscillating or impulse sprinklers, dragging the hose all over the lawn, watching the clock, and trying to remember when you should move the sprinkler to a different part of the lawn. Because your lawn should be watered in the morning, are you willing to get up in predawn hours to start the process? Then there’s the question of how you’re going to drag that sprinkler over your new lawn. You’ll turn that nice smooth ground into the lunar surface.

Portable sprinklers also can be difficult to adjust and point so that the lawn gets evenly watered without wetting the sidewalk or street. The goal isn’t to turn the street gutters into rivers. Portable sprinklers water areas unevenly, and a lot of the water gets lost to evaporation as the sprinklers throw the water up into the air to fling it far and wide.

The secret to getting a great looking lawn while conserving precious water is to evenly moisten the root zone without filling the street gutters. Even if you have the best lawn soil in the world, soil can absorb water only at a certain rate. If you deliver water faster than the soil can absorb it, you get runoff — a big waste.

Permanent, in-ground irrigation systems usually send up light misty sprays of water that you can aim carefully. The soil absorbs water slowly over a longer period of time. You get more bang for your buck because you use less water to get a better-looking lawn.

Don’t forget! Your time is valuable, too. With an automatic timer controller installed on your irrigation system, you can water your lawn well and wisely even when you aren’t home. You can even install moisture-sensoring devices that withhold watering during times when rainfall is doing an adequate job.

The only drawback to an in-ground irrigation system is that it can be rather expensive — more expensive if you hire a professional to install it and less expensive if you do it yourself. But a permanent in-ground system, properly installed and maintained, is an asset for you and your home’s value, just like a new bathroom or a sun porch.

If you need to water your lawn and you can afford it, an in-ground irrigation system is the best choice for you. You may save a little money on your water bill, and you can definitely increase the value of your real estate. In addition, your lawn will look lovely.

Naturally, if you live in an area where summer rainfall is plentiful and you need to water your lawn only a couple times during dry spells, a permanent irrigation system may not make sense. The same is true if you have a small lawn.

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About the Authors Lance Walheim, former staff garden writer for Sunset magazine, is the nationally recognized author of over 30 widely read garden books, including The Natural Rose Gardener and Hungry Minds' Roses For Dummies??. The National Gardening Association (NGA) is recognized for its bimonthly National Gardening magazine and prolific work in science education for children. NGA is also the coauthor of Gardening For Dummies??, Roses For Dummies??, Perennials For Dummies??, Annuals For Dummies??, and Container Gardening For Dummies??.

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