Soaker hose attached to rain barrel

brandond(6)February 8, 2010

Is there enough pressure with a slight eleveated 55 gallon barrel to irrigate through a soaker hose. Im wanting to irrigate some blueberry bushes this year and maybe do some fertigaton through the soaker hose.

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Soaker hose needs at least 10 psi to work properly. There is a new soaker hose out designed just for rain barrels. Google "rain barrel soaker hose".
Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 9:24AM
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Hmmmm. this is a really interesting thread. Grey water systems are illegal in my stat, for reasons unknown, but the concept is something I've been toying with for a while now. . .

I've tried that soaker hose many times, and in my experience, it always fails. It seems to get 'calcified' with our water here in CO, so your experience might be different.

But in regard to the 'rain barrel soaker hose' system.. I read a bit about it, as well as watching a youtube about it, and frankly, what I see is really inconsistent watering amongst a relatively small area. I have some ideas that might help improve that design:

On our farm, we use electric pumps to spray herbicides that are easily powered with a battery and a very small solar charger.

That said, it would also be fairly simple and cheap to wire up a cheap clock to control the pump..

This is going to give you a LOT more consistency than relying on gravity alone. Your tank will rarely be more than half-full depending upon where you live, and the water will always take the path of least resistance.

I suggest using 1/2" poly pipe, and punching in spaghetti lines to each individual plant. .

Without pressure, you'll always have inconsistency, but simply using a spaghetti system I think, will give you a better pattern than a soaker hose.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 10:32PM
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Thanks for that info. I was actually looking at the soaker hose from home depot. Its made my Toro. It has individual pressure emiters placed close together, I believe its a foot apart. I called the company and they said it doesnt have a pressure requirement, and that a rain barrel would work just fine. As far as sediment and hard water goes, rain water is soft and doesnt have those minerals. Im not using well water at all.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 7:52AM
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so you are talking about a grey-water system. Very cool.
I guess the one thing I would be concerned about is that the water's pressure will be different at one end of the hose than the other. In other words, it should come out of the end faster than the beginning, but hey, if it works for what you're doing, it works!

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 9:41PM
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Thats why Im interested in the irrigation line at home depot, it has individual pressure compensators that its suppose to regulate the pressure. To me that says it will be the same pressure regardless of slope and at the beginning and end of the hose.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 7:56AM
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Hi brandon,

Your roof is not real clean as a collection area. It is probably worth having a large inline filter or bypass screen just outside the barrel to skim off the floating stuff before it can enters your pipeline. And you should encourage birds to let loose on your roof so that you actually fertigate when it rains. Your irrigation will have a more even flow if it travels down hill with about a 1% slope (1 ft vertical in 100ft run). That slope compensates for the loss of head along the low pressure pipeline from all the low flows along its length. Pressure regulators only work with design pressure and design slope. Aloha

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 9:34PM
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Thanks for that info Lehua. I do place a screen over the top of the barrel to keep leaves and other debri out. I also place my spigets about 4 inches up from the bottom of the barrel so if there is some small debri is will just settle at the bottom.

The info on the soaker hose is what Im most interested in figuring out. Toro makes a 100ft irrigation hose that has 1gph built in regulators that allows for even watering. I called the company to make sure they didnt have a pressure requirement and that a rain barrel would work. They assured me it would work just fine. If you dont mind give me your opinon on this product. It sold at home depot. thanks

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 8:04AM
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Hi Brandon,

Lets try an experiment. Buy the hose and test it in this manner. Hook it up to your barrel at different slopes. Also not the depth of the water in the barrel for each test. Support it along its length and place small cups below each emitter hole. Let the water run for a measured time duration (enough to fill each cup about halfway) and see if each cup has the same water height level. Try a level set up then a downhill 1% and then an uphill 0.5% set up. Let us know what you discover. Number and measure the volumes in each cup and you will have the flow rate(gpm) for the soaker hose. My opinion doesn't matter now. I have used soaker hoses and have been happy with them over the short term. Over the long term using the simplest form of irrigation has been the best and it is usually what I have become most comfortable with repairing and tinkering with($$). You will learn by trial an error and experimenting. That is the fun of it. Then let everyone know your results and let them learn. Good luck and aloha

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 11:07PM
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Hi all,

I have a four-barrel system that I have hooked up and will begin using this year.

I also have an irrigation system I made using 1/2-inch PVC pipe.

The 1/2-inch PVC pipe has a small 1/16-inch hole drilled out along the pipe just where each stem of a plant is at. So if you have six-inch spacing between plants, make small 1/16-inch holes along the pipe every six inches.

The 1/2-inch PVC pipe is about $1 per 10 feet.

Last year I had the pipe hooked up to a water timer from a spigot on the house. This year it will all be connected to the rain barrel.

As lehua13 suggested, there is a different amount of water usage depending upon the elevation. I found that there was substantial flow of water a a hole that was lower than another. As an example, my front yard drops by about two feet over 30 feet. The PVC pipe at the top of the hill had very little water output compared to the pipe at the bottom of the hill. As lehua13 said, this is due to the pressure being greater at the bottom - and thereby forcing the water out.

I think you will have this same problem with any kind of system that is similar to that method - like the one you mention. The only way around it would be to set up valves along the PVC pipe to help regulate the flow of water - to make it more even. This would even require quite a bit of tinkering.

Anyways, the system I made is quite affordable and cheap and was posted online from a university. It works very well and ensures that water is supplied directly to each plant - instead of soaker hoses that supply water throughout the length of the hose where some of the water is wasted.

Here are some links for information:

PVC Irrigation System
Slight Update to PVC Irrigation System
Water pushing through 1/16-inch holes in PVC pipe with two rain barrels
220 Gallon Rain Water System

    Bookmark   February 19, 2010 at 11:39AM
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I have another Idea to equalize your flow. Run the water out of the tank into a 'manifold'. In other words, a segment of poly pipe, with spagetti tubes going to individual plants. Think of the design being like a broom, where, the broom handle, representing the main line coming from your tank, and the 'bristles' representing the tubes. Now, heres the catch:

The tubes HAVE to be the exact same length in order to equalize the flow. SO, with that said, here is what I suggest:

measure the distance from the manifold to the FURTHEST plant you are trying to water. Make ALL of your tubes THIS LENGTH. If the tube is too long, simply coil it up, and tie it with a cable tie.

ALSO, heres my two cents about TORO.

Crap. Total crap. Every single thing they sell, is total crap.

Thats my two cents.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 9:33AM
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Hey vgnurseryco what about drip irrigation from the company irrigationdirect. They can be spaced around 6in on up to 12 in and drip around 1/2 to 1 gallon of water per hr. The company checked out well as a company. The drip tubing is small diamter around 1/4 in and is reasonably priced at 14 dollars for a 100 ft roll. Would this be better than the soaker hoses?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 8:56AM
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To the original poster:

I have a 55 gallon rain barrel elevated about a 1' to 1.5' above my garden and when "full" (about 50 gallons due to overflow), my soaker hose seems to work well enough. You quickly run out of sufficient PSI though as the water level drops. The other day I actually took my barrel off the stand and placed it on the ground, which lowered it to maybe 3-4" above the area to be watered, and my soaker hose has been nullified.

The low-pressure soaker hose on that website looks great in theory. I'm using the rain barrel as a supplemental system due to it being inconsistent so far. The only real way to guarantee you get the flow you want is to integrate some sort of pumping system. There are many but I'm trying to avoid "using" energy to get it, keeping my barrel off-grid per se.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 8:54AM
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I have a similar situation...
1. Have a 55 gal rain barrel at the bottom of a hill due to a walk out basement
2. Main flower bed is about 25' length of hose from bottom of the barrel

I was thinking of using solid hose from the barrel to the top of the hill. Then putting in a "drill pump" then either a soaker hose, or a drip irrigation line which will have an end point lower than my barrel spigot.

Does anyone think that once started i could stop the pump and allow the siphon effect to work it's magic?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 1:54PM
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Hi burnie,

What is the vertical height in feet you need to get over with the flow from your barrel? Your siphon idea will work as long as no air gets into your line during the siphoning. The drill pump may not be strong enough to push the water over your hump. A small submersible pump could but with only a 55 gallon drum you might as well pump out the entire barrel. You could probably run the submersible off a battery(car) and converter if you didn't want to hard wire the pump to start the siphoning. JMHO aloha

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 8:36PM
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Lehua13, i don't have a good measurement. However after testing the drill pump idea tonight it definately doesn't have enough power. I have a 50' regular garden hose, and was able to maintain the siphon (if started at the bottom of the hill)so the middle of the hose was at the top. However when adding the soaker to the bottom of hose, i lost the siphon when the end of the soaker was at the same level as the regualr hose. I know very hard to explain. Do you think that perhaps the drip irrigation (little sprayers) would work better than soaker? I feel as if the soaker is letting the air into the system.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 9:40PM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

I have the same question. I tried to run 1/4 inch tubing with low-flow emitters, but that really didn't work very well. Davearrrrr, if you're still reading, could you tell us more about your setup? How long is the area you're irrigating? How many holes, and what size did you make them? (Are you using a regular garden hose?) Did you crimp or seal the end of the hose somehow?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 10:47AM
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Dave Arrr,
what about filling your rain barrel with the hose if there isn't sufficient rain?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 1:05AM
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