Table of Contents
- 1 Irrigating Your Garden Perfectly-It’s so Simple (Irrigation)
- 1.1 Step 1: Overview
- 1.2 Step 2: Make a sketch and plan the drip irrigation system
- 1.3 Step 4: Lay the 1/2-in. tubing
- 1.4 Step 5: Connect the transmitters
- 1.5 Step 6: Drops, bubblers, sprinklers, and sprayers
- 1.6 Step 7: Maintain your drip irrigation system
Irrigating Your Garden Perfectly-It’s so Simple (Irrigation)
Step 1: Overview
Whether you grow roses to win prizes or just try to keep some flowerbeds in shape, you know what to water, drag pipes in the yard and move them around every half hour… Micro-irrigation – a network of plastic tubes and low-volume drippers and sprinklers that reach every part of the garden you want to water – helps you avoid watering problems.
The materials are inexpensive and easy to install by simply using a pruner and a special punching tool. Once you install the hose and connect the drippers, sprinklers or sprayers, you can water your plants just by turning on the water and letting it run for an hour or two. Add a battery powered controller and you will not even have to turn on the water. It turns the water on and off automatically at the times you select.
Micro-irrigation saves more than time and energy; it saves water by distributing it more efficiently. As you use dozens of watering devices to replace an ordinary sprinkler, you have much greater control over where the water is routed and how much is supplied to each plant. Instead of flooding the soil all at once, micro-irrigation allows you to apply a small amount over long periods of time, allowing water to enter the root zone of the plants to get the most benefit from it. And since runoff and evaporation are minimized, micro-irrigation uses less water.
In this article, we will introduce the basics of micro-irrigation, including planning tips and step-by-step installation instructions. For more details, especially during the planning phase, we recommend that you also read one of the manufacturer’s free planning guides or browse the relevant websites.
Step 2: Make a sketch and plan the drip irrigation system
If this is your first micro-irrigation business, start small and experiment to get an idea of how the system works. Choose one or two flowerbeds or a garden and install a simple one-zone system.
The basic planning strategy is to choose the best watering device to serve each type of installation. Then determine a flow rate sufficient to provide water to each plant in the watering zone. Set up the system to work between one and two hours at a time, two or three times a week.
Start by measuring your garden and make a simple sketch. Choose the type and flow of sprinklers based on your soil and the water requirements of the plants. Mark them in terms of the drip irrigation system and trace the path of the tubing to connect them. This will involve a bit of guesswork. See “Step 6: Drippers, Bubbles, Sprinklers and Sprayers” below for information that will help you choose the right watering. Try to cover all the root zones of your plants. Do not worry about tuning everything in the beginning. Add a little more of each type of watering device and purchase the watering devices, tubes and base parts shown in Figure B for the tap connection. Once you see how the drip irrigation system works, you’ll find it easy to move or add transmitters for more balanced water flow or better coverage.
DIY irrigation system planning rules:
- Use 1/2 gph drippers in clay soil, 1 gph drippers in loam and 2 gph drippers in sandy soil.
- Add the rate of gallons per hour (gph) of all drippers, bubblers, sprayers and sprinklers you plan to use. If you use
- 1/2-in tube for the main line, limit the total between 150 and 220 gallons per hour (check with the manufacturer).
- Limit the length of 1/2-in. tube on an area up to a maximum of about 200 feet.
- Limit the total gph to a length of 1/4 “. 25-30 tube.
As you add to the system, it is best to divide your yard into groups of plants with similar watering needs. With this strategy, you add a separate system (zone), starting with the water source, for each group of plants or area of the yard. To help you plan a larger, more complex system (and for the best price), work with a retailer specializing in micro-irrigation.
Step 3: Start at the outside faucet
Photo 1 shows the parts you need and the order in which to install them. The Y Separator with stops allows you to keep the drip system on all the time (and operated by a controller) and always use your regular garden hose. You do not have to use a controller, but you must use a backflow preventer. Some of these components are available with a pipe thread or pipe. So be sure to match the type of thread when you buy parts. Fitting the pipe thread to the pipe thread will cause leaks.
Drip irrigation installation and design tips
- Dip the tube in hot water or lay it in the sun for a short time to soften it and make it easier to work.
- Hold the hole punch at a right angle to the tube when drilling a hole for a transmitter or connector. This makes a round hole that will seal tightly around the beard of the transmitter.
- Rinse the system before installing transmitters or other watering devices to remove debris.
- Create your sidelines (1/4 “tubes and transmitters) before connecting them to the main line.
- If you have plants with radically different watering requirements (such as trees and containers), you can add or subtract the number of emitters or sprayers for each plant or, even better, divide the system into plant areas.
- having similar needs.
Step 4: Lay the 1/2-in. tubing
Then start the 1/2-in. tube in the garden bed (Photo 2) and position it according to your plan. The tubing will be more flexible and easier to work if you let it sit in the sun for a while to warm you up. Remember that you can then cover the tube with decorative mulch to hide it. Cut the tube with a pruner. Use T-joints to create branches and elbows to create 90-degree bends (Photo 3). Know that there are different sizes of tubes called “1/2-in.”, Depending on the brand used. Purchase accessories matching the tube brand you use. If you need to join two different tube brands or if you are not sure what you have, you can buy universal connectors compatible with all tube diameters. Use special plastic clamps to nail the tube to the house or terrace.
You can bury 1/2 inch. Poly tubing in a shallow trench to conceal it when crossing a path or small section of grass, but for longer lengths, especially in high traffic areas, we recommend replacing 1/2-in. PVC pipe instead. Buy adapters to connect the 1/2-in. poly tube at the ends of the PVC pipe. Check with your local plumbing inspector before burying a pipe to see if special backflow prevention is necessary.
Step 5: Connect the transmitters
Drill holes in the tube where you want to install a watering can. Push and turn until the tip of the punch creates a clean hole.
Now, add the different types of emitters for particular plants: drippers, sprayers, sprinklers or drippers. The technique is simple. Use a punch tool to drill a hole in the tube where you want to add a watering can. You can insert a dripper directly into the 1/2-in hole. tube or use a barbed wire connector and connect a 1/4 “length. vinyl tube. Then connect a watering can at the end of the 1/4 inch.
You can purchase sprinklers and sprayers as assemblies that include a 1/4 “short barbed connector. tube and a plastic peg, or buy the parts separately and assemble them yourself. Do not forget to buy a 1/4 “selection. barbed fittings, including T-fittings, elbows, connectors, and plugs. You can press any of these fittings into a perforated hole in the 1/2 “line and connect 1/4”. tubes for powering the transmitters. T-fittings allow you to run 1/4-in. a tube in opposite directions from the main line or connects a 1/4 in. tube. Use connectors to extend a 1/4 “. tube too short. If you are drilling a hole in the wrong place or want to remove a fitting, push a hole into the hole to seal it.
Once the DIY irrigation system has been installed, run water through the tube to remove any dirt. Then style the ends. You are now ready to turn on the water and see how your new micro irrigation system works. The water runs for an hour. Then check around your plants to make sure the root zone has been wet. Adjust the system by adjusting how long you water or adding or moving watering devices.
Step 6: Drops, bubblers, sprinklers, and sprayers
One of the first things you’ll notice when browsing brochures or websites is a wide variety of watering devices. Here are the basic types and some information to know about each one. Although the ones presented here are the most common, there are many other more specialized transmitters. See the micro irrigation catalogs for other types and their uses.
Step 7: Maintain your drip irrigation system
Clean the filter once a month (more often if you have well-watered sediment).
Inspect the drippers from time to time to make sure they work.
In cold climates, get ready for winter by removing the Y-splitter, check valve, controller, filter, and pressure regulator and bringing them indoors. Remove the caps and drain or blow system water. Replace the plugs and also plug the end of the pipe valve.
Expert advice for container irrigation
Rosalind Creasy, a container gardening expert, is a writer, speaker, and landscaper. She is the author of the series of ten books “Edible Gardening“. She also wrote “Edible Landscaping“, for which she won the American Horticulture Society Book Award.
Creasy says that automatic drip irrigation is perfect for containers because they dry so quickly and require daily watering in hot weather. She has been using drip irrigation for more than a decade to grow a wide selection of edible flowers and plants in containers in her home in the northern United States.