drip irrigation for perennial gardens

raymodj(4)April 23, 2012

I want to make it easier to keep my plants watered and also conserve water. After some research, it looks like drip irrigation is the way to go, rather than soaker hoses.

The drip irrigation system is for perennial gardens, and some plants are 12" apart, some 18", some 36", and all measurements were done with the "close enough" method. There is also some ground cover spread throughout. I would have 100 feet of hose in the front and 100 in the back. They would both be split off the faucet on the side of the house, with garden hoses carrying the water to a "faucet on a post" that I would put near my gardens in the front and back yards.

I know I need backflow preventers, pressure regulators, and filters. I'm also getting timers. I think I'm getting 100 foot 1/2" drip line with Pressure Compensating Emitters. This, however, is where I'm still unsure of how to proceed. I can get emitters spaced 12", 18", 24" or 36". I can also get 1/2 gallon per hour, or 1 gallon per hour. Even at 12", It would be hard to get emitters really close to every plant, and in many spots I'd be watering nothing but the soil.

What's the best way to set up a system like this when plants are not evenly spaced and DEFINITELY NOT in a straight line? My concern is that i find conflicting information. Some people have complained that their drip irrigation seems to go straight down, without spreading much at all. Other sources list a spread of up to 18 inches or so. Would a faster flow (1 gallon vs 1/2) help or hurt the spread? Or maybe dry soil tends to go straight down?

Oh, and my soil is pretty good. Not clay, not sandy.

Thanks for any help, looking forward to happier, healthier plants. I sometimes forget to water until I see some stress, and often wind up doing it at the wrong time of the day (afternoons/evenings).

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Why not get poly tubing without emitters, and buy the emitters separately and install them where you need them. The spread of the water depends on your soil, it has nothing to do with the system itself. The harder the soil, the more the water spreads out. Setting up like this, would also allow you to get emitters that put out different amounts of water, for those plants that require more.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 8:46AM
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Thanks, that's an excellent idea. I was trying to take the easy way out and had dismissed the do it yourself emitters early in my search as too much work and too much potential for things to go wrong.

But it is the perfect solution for my problem. I also really like your idea of being able to control the amount of water to each plant.

Any advice on installing the emitters? I'm just worried that I'll spend the time and money and wind up with a leaky system. Is it really as easy as punching the right sized hole and pushing in the emitter? Should I get the self piercing ones?


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 12:08AM
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Yes it IS THAT EASY. Get a punch tool, and also get some goof plugs. That way if you do need to pull an emitter out or you made a hole in the wrong place, you can plug it up.
You could also get adjustable drippers.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:28AM
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Well, so far only one problem. I installed a timer, backflow, filter, regulator and splitter, and 2 garden hoses to get the water from side of house to front and back faucets I rigged on stakes. I turned on the water at that point to test for leaks and opened and closed all the faucets and no problems. After I installed the back 100 feet of hose, I turned on the water again and I have a very loud squeal in the pipes in the house, and you can also hear it at the outside bibb. It starts shortly after I turn on the side faucet, and doesn't stop unless faucet is turned off ALL THE WAY. Squealing also stops when I remove the end cap from drip hose.

Not sure what do to about that, we've never had ANY water hammering or anything like that in this house (after flushing the toilet, for example). I'm going to install the hose in the front and see if that helps. My thinking is it's a pressure thing, so maybe more water flow will help. I'm putting in 200 more feet. Or maybe I got a bad pressure regulator? Anyone have this problem and a solution?

And just fyi for anyone reading this thread after the fact... If I had it to do over again I might spring for the punch that grabs the hose, but I'm getting the hang of punching holes. Finished the back yard with 100 feet of hose and about 40 - 50 emitters and it took about 2-3 hours (includes figuring out the winding route for the hose). I was a little surprised that I used all 100 feet of the backyard hose, but I did need to snake it around alot. Get more hose than you think you need.

If you're debating between soaker hose and drip, I would definitely go with the drip. I've never done anything like this before, but as twolips said, it is that easy. At least once you get the hang of it. Just put the hose in the sun for awhile, attach it to the faucet, unroll (trick is to hold upright so it unrolls straight, don't just let it drop from the side), snake, stake as you go, and punch and install emitters. Now I have water exactly where I want it. Thanks to twolips for the great advice!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 4:14PM
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After experimenting, figured out problem is the backflow preventer. Now waiting for the replacement to see if that solves the problem.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:12AM
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You are welcome, glad I could help and glad you got your problem figured out. I own an irrigation business, so able to offer a little help on occasion.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 7:59AM
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