If you’re growing your plants indoors, you will need to supply the water yourself. Even outdoors, rain can be undependable, especially with the growing impacts of climate change. Wherever and whatever you grow, you will need to be able to provide a source of water in addition to whatever Mother Nature decides to give.
You could use a hose or bucket to hand-water your plants individually, but this is time-consuming and wasteful. Sprinklers, soaker hoses, sprayers and other irrigators can also be turned off and on, but this watering method can waste this precious resource and run up your utility bills.
Setting up drip irrigation is a smart alternative. This method provides exactly the amount of water needed wherever it is needed, cutting down on waste and saving time.
Our top tips for setting up a drip irrigation system will show you how easy it is to create a watering system that will pay you back in lower water usage and increased free time. The process is easy too. Depending on the size of the area you want to irrigate, you can set up your own system in as little as a couple of hours. No special tools or plumbing experience are required to do it yourself.
Drip irrigation can suit a variety of purposes. It can be used outdoors or indoors in a greenhouse or high tunnel. You can set up your system for watering plants in containers, raised beds or gardens. Farmers and vegetable growers can use drip irrigation for row crops. These systems are also ideal for flower beds, trees, and shrubs.
The easiest way to begin is with a drip irrigation kit. These kits come with all the basic components of a drip irrigation system, including mainline tubing, dripline with emitters, fittings to connect hoses and punch and hold-down stakes to keep hoses in place in the ground.
Timers are optional but are highly recommended, especially if you want to be able to water while you are away at work, on vacation or anywhere else. Simply program your timer so the system will automatically water your plants at your preset times. Many types of timers are available, including AC, solar, battery and wind-up models.
It’s also a good idea to use a Y valve if you want to keep a garden hose handy for other chores. Attached to the faucet, the Y valve will provide two connections: one for your drip irrigation system and the other for the hose.
Planning your drip system is simple. Your kit should contain detailed instructions, but here are the basics. Attach your pressure regulator, filter, and mainline hose to the faucet. Then set your driplines and emitters where you want them and connect them to the mainline.
Insert hold-downs into the ground over the tubing to hold it firmly in place. If you need to change directions of the tubing or connect it to other tubing, cut it and attach it using a tee and elbow fittings. Once the tubing is laid out, staked down, and capped off at the end, you can come off the mainline with ¼” tubing to go plants that are ore than a foot off the mainline. At that point you have a choice of which emitters or sprayer to use. Here are4 the most common product choices for a landscape or flower garden:
Soaker Dripline: This 1/4″ tubing with emitters factory inserted every 6″,9″, or 12″ can circle large bushes or plants such as azaleas, rhodys, or roses. Soaker Dripline can weave through a flower or vegetable garden and water numerous plants on the way. Soaker Dripline is often used in raised garden beds or in containers. It works well at pressures down to 2 PSI with a maximum operating pressure of 30 PSI.
1/2″ Emitter Tubing: If you’re watering an orchard or ornamental trees, long rows of choice as each emitter is pressure compensating. These emitters are factory inserted every 9″, 12″, 18″, 24″, or 36″ and can be run up and down hilly terrain, or long distances while giving off the same amount of water from beginning to end.
Individual drip emitters: There are economical drip emitters or pressure compensating emitters for precise watering (even water distribution) when your drip systems run extensive distances. With these emitters you will need to punch a hole in the tubing and insert each one.
Down Spray Sprinklers: These mini sprinklers spray water in a cone shape providing 1 20″-24″ diameter and come in a high or low flow. They are great if you want to apply a lot of water quickly and if you want to top dress (fertilize) the soil around a plant.
Drip Tape: Aqua Traxx Drip Tape is the economically perfect tape for even water distribution over long rows while offering a 90% uniformity rate of water.
Fertilizer Injector: Small backyard gardens often choose the EZ-Flo fertilizer injector as it has a low price point and is easy to use. For large systems and organic farms, the MixRite injectors make the most sense for its ease of maintenance. Another advantage of the MixRite fertilizer injector is that it comes in several different mix ratios with the highest ratio meant for people or farmers who are feeding their plants organic fertilizer.