Having to water shrubs by hand when the rest of the lawn is on an automatic sprinkler system can be a pain. The good news is that there are automatic options for proper shrub irrigation, as well. The type you choose depends on budget, climate, and the amount of seasonal maintenance you are willing to put in.
1. Seasonal Drip Lines
Seasonal drip lines are laid out in the spring and put away in the fall. They are attached to a permanently installed irrigation valve that may or may not be part of the main lawn sprinkler system.
A major benefit of seasonal drip systems is you can easily adjust where the lines and emitters run, which is good for newer shrub plantings because you can adjust the placement annually in regard to the shrub's growth patterns. For example, younger shrubs often require more water, so additional emitters may be necessary. The lines are also stored in winter so that you don't have to worry about damage.
2. Subsurface Drip Lines
Subsurface drip lines are permanent, meaning you don't have to put them away come winter. Much like a standard lawn sprinkler system, the lines are run underground and a pop-up emitter is placed near each shrub. Instead of spraying water above ground, though, these emitters trickle water onto the soil surface at the base of the shrub.
This system has the same benefits as seasonal drip lines in that water is not lost to evaporation and it doesn't lead to diseases from wet foliage. Further, there is no need to remove and store lines each fall, although standard system winterization is still needed. Subsurface systems are best suited to mature shrubs or those not expected to grow much more.
3. Raised Sprinkler Emitters
Raised emitters are typically the most budget-friendly choice. Much like your lawn sprinklers, these emitters are attached to an underground water line. The emitters sit atop a raised post that is also a water line. The post may be permanent or you may be able to twist it out of the line after each use or seasonally.
The main drawback is aesthetics, as the post can be quite obvious. There are also concerns that the overspray can lead to increased issues with mildew and fungal diseases on shrub leaves. The biggest benefit is it can easily be installed on an existing irrigation system at a low cost.
Raised emitters are typically installed in line with your lawn irrigation system.
Contact a sprinkler system installation service if you need additional help in designing an irrigation solution for your shrubs.