So you want to put down drip irrigation in the garden

Great idea, and I just finished installing mine. I hope this post will help those who are thinking about it. It is not as difficult as I thought.
First, on googling "drip irrigation for the home gardener" i got across a very useful page that lists almost all (ha! not all) the components of a system. I went with stuff from Landscape USA, who were very helpful (you all know me, I have posted here many times, no spam, I simply thought these guys were doing their best). The page
http://stores.tiefert.com/garden/irrigation.html
I ended up eliminating the backflow preventer because I have the four way splitter, and I can always open one of the other taps to eliminate backflow. I am sure you all know how to plan a layout, so let me cut to the chase.
Because of connector mismatches I ended up buying a few parts at a local irrigation store (they too were helpful). There are TWO types of thread, hose thread and pipe thread, and this is very important to know. Some pieces just will not fit into another. If you encounter this condition, you will need a connector to match things. Don't force it!
If I were to do it again, I would buy all the connectors from tap to filter, from filter to transfer hose, from hose (which is 5/8) to irrigation hose (which is 1/2) at the local store, and make sure they fit right there before exiting the store. bring a small piece of irrigation hose and the filter to the store if you already have it, and make sure everything fits. i would still buy the bulk of parts at Landscape USA because I found their hoses and drip hose to be of superior quality (they press fit in a snap. The one drip hose I bought locally was a pain to fit).
1) I think the brass, four way faucet is great (first item in webpage), and does not leak like the cheap two way I used to have. It also has a fixture to bolt it to the wall for superior stability.
2) from there you connect to the filter (or backflow preventer) via a female-female hose-pipe connector (a double female with two different threads). The filter is male-male pipe-pipe. First important advice - BUY SOLID BRASS CONNECTORS. They are a pain to screw on because the whole line twists (they are rigid), but they will never leak if the threads match.
3) use teflon tape for all threaded connections.
4) even though they tell you that O-rings are not necessary for hose male-female connections, buy and install them. You must have an O-ring for a pipe male-female connection. Scared? The local store will provide all these minutiae in a snap.
5) if you wish to use a regular garden hose to get to the irrigation system, be aware that they come in lengths of 15 ft, 50 ft, or greater. No in between. I needed exactly 20 feet, but I had to buy two of 15, and coil ten feet.
6) Get a connector or series of connectors to go from 5/8 to 1/2, and you are in the in-ground part of your project. Neither the irrigation hose nor the the drip hose is UV rated. I trenched all the way to the garden and buried the irrigation hose forever (I covered the drip lines with compost). In areas with rodent activity I wrapped the underground hose in six inches of chicken wire before burying (approximately 70 feet).
7) Luckily one branch was right at the lowest point of the line. I installed a faucet there too (underground, I made a simple housing of bricks around it), for the sole purpose of evacuating the line before the soil freezes. The line is rigid enough that it will shatter if left full over the winter.
8) both irrigation and drip hose are press fit into connectors. I learned immediately that the proper way to do it is to have a cup of boiling hot coffee with you. you dip the end of the tube into the coffee for five seconds, and then it enters the (typically T-) connector most easily. After a while the coffee will be cold and gritty (I think the plastic gives it an off taste too), so stop drinking it and put it in the microwave to make it hot again. Very easy. and no leaks anywhere.
9) drip lines (with large, turbulent flow drippers which do not clog as easily) terminate in an end plug that can be opened for end-of-season flushing of the line. The end plugs press fit with the coffee method. You do want these.
10) last but not least. it takes some practice to cut pieces of irrigation hose of exactly the right length. do not be afraid to throw out a few feet until you get it right.
Having used it a few nights I can say I am impressed at how evenly the water distributes. then again, to smother weeds I covered most beds with cardboard, laid the hose on top of the cardboard, then covered the hoses with compost. it is possible that it is the cardboard that is spreading moisture so far and wide. So now a thorough, even soaking of a 75X75 garden is as simple as opening/closing a faucet.
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simy1 wrote:

You need to add a vacuum break or double checkvalve backflow preventer.
Nylon connectors work about as good as brass.
Black irrigation tape with built-in pressure compensated emitters is cheap and easy to use, and it is UV stablized. It comes in big rolls and you cut it with scissors.
If you put a valve after the pressure regulator, you can fine adjust the flow rate of the system.
Best regards, Bob
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I don't know why. But my brass four way faucet broke at the connector where it connected to the faucet. Might be I used too much force to tighten it, or the weight of two water hoses and one timer placed too much torque on it, or the zone-6 winter was too harsh for it. I don't know; one day when I wanted to water my garden, I found it broke. Next time, I will try to baby it.
Jay Chan
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Thanks for the good word - and I'm glad my website is useful!

Hot water works just as well, and you won't be tempted to drink it ;-)
cheers,
Marj
--
Mediterranean Garden Advice and Shop: http://stores.tiefert.com/garden /
Also: http://www.mindspring.com/~mtiefert/garden/semiarid_gardening.html
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the real advantage is that water is clear and you see the grit before you taste it. i turn into a caveman in the garden, so don't expect me to follow sensible advice. if you are the author of that site, congratulations. without it i would not have done it.

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