Drip Irrigation, Which is Better?

Ok.. After the feedback on the bed prep I'd decided to cut back greatly on how much I'm putting down and to just layer in some good peat and manure before I till it all in after the initial kill off with CLEAR plastic.
Now.. Moving on, what are your opinions on these drip irrigation methods.
1.) 1/2" Drip Tape with emitters welded to it on 12" Spacing.
At around $47 for 500', it's a good price but I'm wondering about the emitters clogging over time.. Hmmm..
2. ) 1/4" Drilled Soaker Hose with holes at 6" Spacing
A little more, at $56 for 500' but no emitters. Just holes in the tube to allow water flow. Might be less worry about clogging up.
3.) 1/2" PC Drip Line, hole spacing 12", 18" or 24" - Closer = More $$$
Freakin expensive. At $124 for 500' it's too much for my taste.. I'm sure it lasts for years and years though but not worth it IMO.
I'm leaning to the #2 option as it's cheap, doesn't require much to set up and uses holes instead of micro emitters that may clog easier.
At any rate, I want to test drip irrigation out on the garden first and then if satisfied expand to include the various flower beds around the house.
Looking forward to your opinions as always. :)
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Zone 6b, SW KY - http://www.hildenbrands.com
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Lemme give you the short version:
I have fooled with these things for about five years. Two years in, we xeriscaped. That is where you take out lawn, and the Water Department pays you a flat $2 per square foot. You then have to replace it with plants that they approve, and with a system that they approve.
In that system, there must be a filter of a particular style, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, pressure reducers. These lower the blast of water hitting these little pipes when the solenoid goes from full closed to full open in 1/10 second. I thought it was a bunch of hooey, but after we put them in, I had far less geysers than before. Far fewer popped plugs, lines, everything.
I think there may be some difference in quality of materials, thus a difference in cost. But, one can shop and compare, and then buy at the lower costs, just try to avoid really El Cheapo stuff. You get what you pay for, and it really does save money in the long run to do it right from the beginning rather than several versions, all with lots of left over hose and widgets.
It is difficult to advise you. You seem to want to use the soaker variety rather than just put in lines with a head at each plant. Those are Tinker Toy simple to do, and to change later, and give you water only where you want it instead of all over. I never really liked the soaker hose a lot.
Steve
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SteveB wrote:

Oh I can't stand the full on soakers that are made out of tires. Water goes everywhere even when not needed.
The hose I'm looking at has holes pre done on 12" increments but can be punched to allow closer spacing.
I really don't see much need to do the individual emitters and tubing when all that's going in the garden are rows of plants that will for the most part all be 12" apart or so, which makes the #1 choice above a dandy one. I think the #2 option I can get at 12" per hole, will need to check again.
Now, for if/when I do the landscape with drip, I'll be looking at a more specific system to install where I can pinpoint not only where the water is, but vary the amount of water on a per emitter basis.
Oh, know about the filters and pressure regulator too.. :) I'll be running at 15PSI fixed, or maybe an adjustable regulator if it seems worth it.
All in all though, you feel that it's worth while to do a drip system?
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Yes. If you do it right, and keep an eye on it. If it is running correctly, and the timer is set correctly you will use far less water. You may still want to mulch around plants and trees to cut down on surface evaporation which gives you faster mineral buildup.
Steve
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You can get 3/4" feeder hose, plastic drip line (1 1/2 gallon/hour emitter per 12" or 8"), pressure reducer and filter which you put together like tinker toys for around $100. I'm in my 5th year with mine and only need to do occasional maintenance because of my "hounds from hell". I turn mine on when I get my paper in the morning and turn t off when I go to work. Even easier, you can get a timer.
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Billy

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Mine clogged from time to time, and a filter didn't do any good. It was a real pain... you usually don't notice it until you have some plants showing enough stress to make it obvious that something is wrong. If you have the system on automatic, and you take off for a week, and if the weather is hot and dry, you can loose some plants.
I used drip irrigation for years. In the end, I got tired of the hassle and bought a couple of impact sprinklers, and now I just sprinkle the garden once a week. I have my own well, so I have more water then I know what to do with. I set up the sprinklers around the perimiter of the garden and just water everything. I use a half dozen empty tunafish cans placed here and there to make sure I'm watering enough. Works great, very little labor involved, no maintenance expenses, very cheap setup. The only restriction with this is that you have to have a cheap and plentiful water supply.
If you want to install a drip system....be sure to buy a good quality pressure regulator. Those plastic inline regulators that cost $5-10 are worthless. Don't waste your money on one. You can get an adequate metal regulator for about $20-25.
I ran 1/2 inch flex hose from faucet through the garden, and used the 1/4 punch fittings into 1/4 flex hose with inline drippers here and there as needed. Good for a small garden. Way too expensive for a large garden.
Towards the end I used 1/2 PVC for long runs - it's much more durable then flexible 1/2 inch hose. Then you use 1/2 threaded fittings where you want to plug into it.. In fact, you can run PVC through your entire garden. You can get adaptors with 1/2" pipe thread that you can attach to your PVC system, and run drip fittings from there. I'm not sure how much that would cost, it might not be worth the expense and trouble to you. It didn't cost much, but in the end it was still more trouble then it was worth to me.
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I've had drip irrigation in my flower beds for quite a few years and it has worked well.
An upline filter should prevent clogging, although I suspect that a soaker hose laying on the ground could pick up some mud.
I prefer using emitters, as you can control the volume of water with them. I have some larger plants in the middle of a run, and with emitters I can set the flow at those plants, while still having lower volume up and downline where I have smaller plants. I even have a cute little sprayer head where the line passes through my herb garden and I wanted the spraying to clean the foliage. I also like the capability to move and change the emitters as my garden changes (they are on small lines that come off the main line). For instance, when I added a bird bath, I just added a side line and an emitter that fills the bird bath.
I think the admittedly cheaper soakers have no capacity to control the flow at specific locations. However, I suspect a soaker would put out more volume at the first holes, and far less at the last holes. The soakers seem to me to fail the purpose of a drip irrigation system, which is to put the water just where you need it, and no where else (as water becomes more expensive, this becomes an important issue). If I just wanted to water the whole bed, I could do it with the hose and sprinklers often used for lawns.
If you decide to go with emitters, I would suggest you start with a large main line of poly, which is more resistant to cracking than pvc, and the larger diameter gives you flexibility to add more emitters if you see the need over time. And a controller is not expensive, and lets you water at the right time, even if you are away or still in bed.
Scott Hildenbrand wrote:

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