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What is Subsurface Lawn Irrigation?

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

Think of subsurface irrigation like sprinklers underground, but a more economical and sustainable way to use water for irrigating grass.

Subsurface irrigation is not new. Channeling underground water was used by the Persians thousands of years ago using qanats.

Ancient Persian qanat - underground water delivery

Likewise, subsurface drip irrigation saves water and conserves water, as it is not above ground to be evaporated. It delivers water to the root zone where it is needed using emitters, rather than sprinklers.

See the difference between sprinklers, and a subsurface irrigation system called Ezi Mat below.

For plants to be healthy, soil water is captured around soil particles, and lies in the spaces between. Rain percolates (drains under gravity) through the soil, till the soil is left with optimum water for plant processes called Field Capacity.

You might think a very wet soil is good for plants - but not so!

Saturated ground impairs oxygen needed for roots, causes valuable nitrogen to be lost as gas, and can bring on plant diseases including root rot.

Sodden soils can occur through: over watering; watering during rain, and just leaving the sprinkler on too long. This is a waste of water, so having it wetter is not better!

Difference between sprinklers and subsurface irrigation for lawns.

Above-ground irrigation can lose valuable water to walls, pathways and run-off.

This water is wasted to evaporation where it could be used sustainably underground.

Subsurface irrigation is designed to recharge the soil with the optimum amount of water needed for plant processes, and not saturate the soil like overhead lawn irrigation.

Sure, if you leave subsurface irrigation on for long enough, the soil will be saturated but above ground systems also water paths and waste water as run-off.

Underground irrigation systems do not do this. Most subsurface irrigation systems have controllers linked to a weather service - like EziMat®. These control systems shut the irrigation off, or irrigate to the conditions. This is done using modern Bluetooth/WIFI technology.

Most subsurface irrigation systems have controllers linked to a weather service - like Ezi Mat.

How does subsurface irrigation work?

Often subsurface irrigation is manufactured as a tape, that looks like a flat hose. When the tape fills with water (under low pressure), irrigation water is released through engineered emitters.

The emitters are spaced to avoid dry patches meaning the wetting patterns join together.

The tape (that looks like a flat hose) is placed underground in the root zone where the water is needed. The water is drawn up by plants using capillary action and evapotranspiration (a plant form of evaporation).

Sub-surface irrigation is also impacted by gravity, and goes down into the subsoil.

So, whether the water goes up or down, plants are the winner!. Water can be stored in the topsoil and subsoil!

Subsurface irrigation can be set up from a garden tap - so no need for any extra expensive plumbing. Controllers can be powered by batteries and some have an app to let you know when they need changing. This saves money on electrical services.

New technologies have a specially selected fabric with the irrigation tape attached. This means the tape is evenly spaced and the fabric assists to distribute water evenly underground. Roots grow through the fabric which helps to make lawn surfaces more stable.

New technologies have a specially selected fabric that has the irrigation tape attached - like Ezi Mat®.

Why should I use subsurface irrigation?

If you want to save water and provide lawns with the right amount of moisture, then subsurface irrigation would be the best solution.

Other benefits include: 24 hour access over lawn surfaces; no pop-ups to be damaged or blocked, and watering is evenly distributed across the root zone.

This form of irrigation can also be fitted with aeration and fertiliser injection systems such as the Ezi Mat subsurface irrigation system.

Ezi Mat incorporates a special fabric attached to the irrigation tapes which is placed 60 to 100 mm below the turf surface to provide more stability for the lawn. Roots freely grow through the fabric into the subsoil.

The system can be regularly flushed to move any silt through the lines. Ezi Mat comes with back flow and filter systems.

Underground irrigation makes smart sense for plant health and water conservation, so it's worth the bother.

How to get Ezi Mat for your lawn?

Ask your landscaper or deal directly! Call Ezi Mat on 1300 394 628. We can explain the system, and guide you in your irrigation planning. Alternatively, turf supply companies or landscapers can install Ezi Mat with new turf. A professional should be consulted to program the watering and ensure the system is installed correctly for optimum plant health. It's not so new...but it's different! It makes sense to use subsurface irrigation. To book a free site visit and quote click here

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