Comparing Irrigation Systems

Plants will not grow without adequate amounts of water. Growing anything that is not suited to the average rainfall in the area will require some sort of irrigation to thrive. There are many different systems and methods to irrigating a plot. We break down some of the advantages and disadvantages for using each irrigation style.


Overhead rotary

Overhead rotary irrigation can take on many looks but generally consists of a water source coming through a pipe or tube and then being emitted by sprinklers that automatically rotate. You can buy a cheap overhead rotary sprinkler to plug right into a hose that will cover a small garden or lawn. Or you can set up multiple pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to cover a larger area.


Easily water an area

Will water everything under it’s’ area

Easily adjustable


Higher evaporation

Distribution interrupted by wind

Burying pipes to avoid damage will take a lot of labor

Drip tube

Long black tubing may be purchased in order to water rows. Simply lay out the drip tube alongside your plants. Then, punch in your emitter at the base of every plant you want watered.


Reduced evaporation

Able to control exactly where water is emitted


Bulky and takes a good amount of storage space during winter

The area covered may be limited by amount of water pressure available


T-tape is a system in which thin plastic tubes (tape) are connected to a larger main tube that is connected to a water source. The tape emits water every few inches directly to the soil. You can use a large role to cover many long rows easily.


Reduced evaporation

Easy set up

Less expensive than drip tube


Easy to tear, repair time

Might need to purchase a pressure reducer

Soaker hose


Soaker hoses are a combination of drip tube and T-tape. They have permeable membranes which allow them to emit beads of water all along the hose. You can connect multiple together or add regular hoses in between for a custom fit to your garden.


Reduced evaporation

Easy to use

Easy to roll and store


Sold in limited lengths.

Cost to cover larger area is high

While experimenting with different irrigation, we came across Swan Hoses’ Element SoakerPRO. Set up and take down of the hose was easy and kink free. It was a pleasant experience to use this hose that provided my row with consistent and even watering. Made out of 65% recycled rubber, this hose does all it can to preserve our natural resources while also being rugged enough to take a beating.

soaker pro system side

Central pivot

Central pivot irrigation is used by farmers who need to cover a large area of land. A central crank turns a long line of metal which overhead sprays as it turns around the land. Giant circles may be irrigated this way.


Covers large area

Only one water source location is needed


Increased evaporation


Does not cover corner areas

Massive amounts of water is used

Knowing the right kind of irrigation for your needs will be crucial to your success as a grower. Be creative by combining multiple different types or add on to your irrigation style to gain additional benefits.

One thing you can do with the drip lines / t tape / soaker hose is to place it in a larger sturdier tube with holes punched in it. Then burry the irrigation filled tube to make sure that water is only getting to your plants roots and further reduce evaporation.


What irrigation style has worked best for you? Have a tip to further conserve water while irrigating? Please post a comment and let us know!

**Disclaimer: Received a product(s) in exchange for this honest article. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post on Aquaberry Bliss and opinions are, as always, my own.**

Photos: Jake Frazier, SWAN hoses

PrintBy Jake Frazier

Jake Frazier is an outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Residential Ecology, a sustainable ecological resource management company. He uses existing natural systems to improve the quality of life for both humans and the Earth. Jake is interested in permaculture, living systems and exploring. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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