Fact Checked

What is Residential Irrigation?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Residential irrigation is a form of irrigation designed to meet residential water needs. Irrigation can be used for a variety of purposes. In terms of residential uses, it can bring water to a garden that is used for food or ornamental plants. While such irrigation is on a relatively small scale when compared with the irrigation used in commercial agriculture, for example, the design of a residential irrigation system can get extremely complicated.

Irrigation is used to supply plants with water, using a series of hoses, pipes, and other fixtures. In contrast to a simple watering hose, an irrigation system is designed to be left in place, and can be activated manually or with an automatic system. Irrigation systems deliver water to all areas of the garden, or to a set series of zones. This helps cut down on the time spent watering when compared to walking around the garden with a hose, or to manually moving sprinklers around to hit various areas of the garden.

Lawn sprinklers are a popular type of residential irrigation.
Lawn sprinklers are a popular type of residential irrigation.

A number of factors are involved in the design of a garden irrigation system. The climate in which the garden is located is an issue, as are the kinds of plants being grown in a garden. Native plants may have minimal irrigation needs, while non-natives may require intensive irrigation to thrive. When designing a residential irrigation system, people may also think about various zones of the garden; there may be areas which require more or less water, making it necessary to supply water at different rates.

Some examples of garden irrigation include flood, drip, and sprinkler irrigation systems. Drip irrigation is very popular because it is highly efficient, but it can require a great deal of maintenance to function properly. By contrast, flood irrigation is quite easy, but can sometimes be wasteful for a residential irrigation system.

Irrigation supplies which can be used for residential irrigation can be found in many garden stores and some hardware stores. These supplies are often generic in nature, allowing people to use universal parts in their particular irrigation system rather than forcing people to stick with a single brand or system.

Companies which specialize in residential irrigation system design, installation, and maintenance can be found in many regions. Working with these companies may be advisable for people who are unfamiliar with irrigation systems and their requirements. Doing so can help save money in the long term by ensuring that a system is designed and installed right the first time.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


If you have ever driven across the state of Nebraska during the summer, you can't help but notice all of the irrigation systems set up for their crops.

These huge irrigation sprinklers are all along the interstate. This state is so dry, that without them, I don't know if their crops would make it.

For several years now I have been thinking about installing some kind of residential irrigation in my yard. It sounds like the benefits of it would far outweigh the expense over time.

I am just wondering what type of system is best. Would a drip or a sprinkle system be the best way to get started?


We have a short growing season where I live, but I still enjoy planting a lot of flowers and having a large garden.

The older I get though, the harder it is to keep up with everything. Rather than give it up, I decided to have some landscape irrigation installed.

For me this was worth the expense, as I can't imagine going through the summer without blooming flowers and fresh vegetables.

I really wish I had done this a long time ago as I have been very pleased with the results. I still have to keep up with the weeding, but don't have to worry about everything getting watered.

This also gives me more freedom to be gone for a few days during the summer months. Before this, I always worried about my plants getting watered if I was going to be gone when it was really hot outside.


My sister lives in Phoenix and has underground lawn irrigation for her small yard. Even though she doesn't have a very big yard, this really cuts down on the amount of work involved.

Since they don't get rain very often there, many homes and companies have systems like this installed.

Most of the plants and flowers are native to that area so they don't need a lot of moisture anyway, but this sure looks like a good way to go.

On the other hand, I live on 3 acres and I think it would be way too expensive to have a system like this. For the most part, I have to rely on the rainfall we get to make sure my lawn and garden are watered.

I don't set up any kind of irrigation for my lawn or my flowers. I make sure and water my potted plants everyday, but hope we get enough moisture through the year to take care of everything else.


I have a fairly large flower garden, but permanent yard irrigation is not an option for me. I can't afford to have hoses run underground from the faucet to the flower bed, so I had to devise a movable irrigation system.

I have a drip hose that I have placed in my semicircular garden. It has holes throughout the length of it, and when I turn the faucet on, the water travels from the garden hose I have hooked up to it to the drip hose, where it slowly saturates the ground.

This works better than sprinkling the ground or dumping water on it all at once, because the moisture can slowly soak in. I can easily pick up the hose and roll it onto its holder when it comes time to mow my yard, and after I mow, I put it back out, since I have to irrigate the garden daily in the summer.


@kylee07drg – My dad owns a fruit tree orchard, and though those wheeled irrigation systems sure would be nice, they are super expensive. I think only major farmers can afford them.

My dad has several fixed sprinklers in the ground throughout the orchard. Their heads rotate to spread the water around. It's a relatively cheap system, but it gets the job done.

He doesn't have a timer. He just gets up every morning and turns on the system himself. It's not very high tech, but for our purposes, it works just fine.

He lets customers come to the orchard and pick their own fruit. They always comment on how juicy and sweet the crops are, and we know that is because of our sprinkler irrigation system. Before we got it, we had problems with the quality of the fruit, but now, we are proud to sell it.


I have seen fields irrigated by giant sprinkler systems on wheels. These spraying pipes can extend for miles, and the wheels allow them to move around the area and water all the crops.

This takes a big burden off of the farmers. They don't have to move sprinklers or hoses around all the time. All they have to do is set the timer and make sure their source doesn't dry out.

I know that some farmers experience hardships when streams or rivers that they use for their irrigation system get very low. That's why many of them have wells or ponds dug for the sole purpose of supplying irrigation.


My neighbor grows soybeans in a large field. He depends on his crops for a living, so he has to have an irrigation system in place.

Each row of soybeans has a ditch on either side of it. He uses the furrow flooding technique, in which two separate floodings work together.

The first water surge is allowed to soak into the soil. This way, the second flooding will reach all the places it needs to, because it won't be concerned with soaking into dry ground. It can flow over the wet dirt easily.

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    • Lawn sprinklers are a popular type of residential irrigation.
      By: Vera Kuttelvaserova
      Lawn sprinklers are a popular type of residential irrigation.