The Effects of Year-Round Irrigation on Landscape Plant Quality and Health in Ohio

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Deep (over 165 cm), permeable, unsaturated soil is needed to treat and dispose of wastewater through septic systems. In Ohio, only 6.4% of the state's land area is suited for septic systems for wastewater treatment. Soils with shallow depth to a limiting condition, between 30 and 60 cm, represent 49% of Ohio's land area. In these areas onsite wastewater treatment systems could be followed by irrigation on the lot to disperse the treated wastewater. Several months each year in Ohio reach subfreezing temperatures, making year-round irrigation a challenge. The objective of this research was to examine the feasibility of year-round onsite irrigation and its impacts on landscape plant quality. Three 210 m2 plots were established on a site with unsaturated soils of at least 30 cm deep to a limiting condition of dense glacial till. Three irrigation regimes were applied in each area, no irrigation, irrigation from April through October, and year-round irrigation. No significant differences were shown in plant growth between the two irrigated plots. The non-irrigated plot was different from the two irrigated plots. Thirty-three percent of the plants in the non-irrigated plot died compared to no plant death in the two irrigated plots. The winterized irrigation system operated in sub-zero temperatures without freezing and caused no significant harm to the landscape plants.


Author Institution: Malcolm Pirnie Inc, Columbus, OH
Author Institution: Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Ohio State University
Author Institution: UCF Arboretum, University of Central Florida



The Ohio Journal of Science, v107, n4 (September, 2007), 76-81.