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
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
Looking forward to your opinions as always. :)
Zone 6b, SW KY - http://www.hildenbrands.com
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,
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
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.
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
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
All in all though, you feel that it's worth while to do a drip system?
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.
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.
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.
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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