Microirrigation is defined as a low volume, low flow system. These systems deliver water in gallons per hour, instead of gallons per minute as traditional overhead spray heads provide.
Microirrigation delivers water to the root zone where plants need it, without wetting the foliage much, which can cause disease problems. The main types of micro-irrigation are drip lines, micro sprays, and bubblers.
Drip irrigation is also called drip line or drip tubing. In-line drip tubing is ideal for row crops and in-ground gardens. Depending on the type, emitters are spaced at 6, 9, 12, 18, or 24 feet. Dripline has a low flow so usually requires a long run time, perhaps 30 minutes per irrigation cycle.
Determine how long to run your drip irrigation system with this helpful publication from Penn State.
Micro sprays come in many types, including micro jets, misters, spinners and micro-sprinklers. The mini spray head is typically clipped to a stake or riser. Some features of micro sprays include:
Available in different watering patterns
Watering range is usually 2-4 feet, but can spray up to 25 feet
Good for low growing vegetables such as carrots, radishes, leafy greens
Not good for squashes and vegetables that are prone to fungal diseases
Use caution with taller vegetables – may block the spray
There are many styles of micro-irrigation kits available that range in price from $20 to $100. Check the kits carefully to determine the length, a number of spray heads and other components to decide what is right for your garden. Microirrigation is used a lot for container gardens or irregular-shaped landscape beds. Learn more in our EDIS publication Microirrigation for the Home Landscape.
Bubblers are a versatile type of microirrigation. They can be used for many of the same functions as micro sprays but can deliver more water for larger plants, shrubs and trees. Sometimes you will hear the name microbubbler, shrubbier, or tree bubbler to denote their use and flow rate. They can emit up to 26 gallons per hour. Most are adjustable to increase/decrease flow rate, and with most styles, you can decrease the water flow completely to turn off the water. For more information on irrigation, view our EDIS publication Efficient Irrigation for Florida-Friendly Edible Landscapes.