Drip irrigation is an effective way to water your garden. But it can be difficult to know where to start.
Luckily, there are a few tips that can help you get started. If you follow them, installing a drip irrigation system should be quick and easy.
Start with a Plan
A garden or lawn needs a consistent, reliable source of water to thrive. Trying to water each plant individually with a hose can be time-consuming and wasteful, not to mention expensive.
The solution is to set up a drip irrigation system that will deliver exactly the amount of water needed for each plant. It works much more efficiently than sprinklers or soaker hoses and takes the guesswork out of watering your garden.
Start by making a plan for the area you’ll be irrigating, using a scale map of your yard or garden. Mark the location of all plants that need watering, as well as any water sources such as a spigot near your garden or a free-standing faucet on your property.
Next, sketch a route for the tubing to follow from your water source to each of the locations where you’ll be irrigating. You can do 90deg turns around obstacles, branch off in several paths, or use elbow connectors.
Select the Tubing
Drip irrigation systems use tubing with emitters spaced at specific intervals along the lines to water closely spaced plants, shrubs and trees. Using this type of watering system saves both time and money because it applies only the amount of water required by a particular plant or area.
It also limits the spread of disease. Because it applies only a small amount of water, drip irrigation prevents the soil from becoming too wet and allows air to circulate around the roots.
The flow rate of the drip line should be adjusted to suit the density of the soil and the absorption rate of the plants being irrigated. Specifically, a lower flow rate is needed when irrigating heavy soils like clay and a higher flow rate is needed when irrigating sandy soils.
In addition to tubing, you’ll need tees, couplings and adapters to connect your drip line with the rest of your system. These fittings must be the right size to prevent blowouts.
Select the Emitters
Drip irrigation systems use a system of tubing and emitters to regulate water flow, rather than delivering it at a tap-like rate. Emitters force water out at a much slower rate than your tap, preventing over-watering and damage to plants and soil.
When installing drip irrigation, select the appropriate size emitter for each plant you want to irrigate. Generally, 1 to 2 emitters are recommended for individual plants or for row crops on clay soil, while two or three are needed in sandy soil.
Depending on the type of soil you have, determine which emitter is right for it by conducting a trial run. For example, test a jar full of soil and observe how the water moves.
You can also check the emitters for clogging by opening end caps and flushing the lines with water. Clogged emitters can be cleaned or replaced by inserting a goof plug. You may need to clean or replace the filter on your drip system, too!
Select the Timer
There are many different options for timers, so it’s important to choose one that works well with your drip irrigation system. Take into account the number of zones you want to water, the max start times per day and how long your plants will need to be watered.
You’ll also want to consider whether you need to adjust the timer based on the season. For example, during the summer, you’ll want to set it for 100% watering, but in the winter it will need to be adjusted down a bit.
Some timers come with a semi-auto button that allows you to manually turn on a zone or run a program without reprogramming the entire timer. This is helpful for spot-checking your irrigation system to make sure it’s operating properly. It can also be used to water an area of your property if it’s looking dry. It can save you time and money if you don’t have to reprogramme your irrigation system every few days.