Planter drip irrigation system

Contents

Troubleshooting

What do I do when a valve won’t shut off? See our Valve Troubleshooting Guide. What if water comes out at the beginning of the system but not at the end? There’s a good chance you are using more water than your line can carry. Add the maximum flow rates of the water dispensing products on the line. Our 1/2″ tubing carries 240 gph; 3/4″ tubing carries 480 gph. If your flow exceeds those numbers, your supply is being over drafted. What if water is leaking from the body of my filter? Open the filter, remove the O-ring, and clean it, the groove it sits in and the surface it mates against. Re-assemble the filter and put it back in service. If the leak persists, replace the O-ring or see whether there is another source for the leak. What could be wrong if less and less water is coming out of my system?. Sounds like a system with a dirty filter or no filter. A water filter is insurance even with “clean” water and a regular cleaning of your filter is recommended. What could be wrong if emitters and fittings won’t hold tight and keep coming off? Likely, your pressure is too high. We suggest a pressure regulator after the filter. I had a leaky emitter which I replaced with a goof plug, but it still leaks. How do I fix this? First try a two-sided goof plug (14GP2) which has a standard sized plug on one end and an oversized plug on the other. If the hole still leaks you will need to cut out the leaky portion and insert a coupler that matches your size tubing. I have a bunch of emitters on ½” mainline tubing. They are supposed to be 2 gallons per hour (gph), but some of them are only dribbling. My water is clean and I am using a filter. What is going on? It sounds like you have too many emitters for the 240 GPH carrying capacity of your 1/2″ mainline tubing. One solution is to divide that line into two separate zones. Another is to swap out your 2 gph emitters for those with lower flow rates. I’ve connected my hose-thread device to my hose bib and it leaks like a sieve at the swivel. How can I make it stop? Hose thread joints use washers or O-rings, placed in the female side of the connection. Check: Is the washer or 0-ring present? Is it cracked, worn out, or deformed? Is it evenly installed? If there is any question about its reliability replace it and treat with silicon lube (HLUBE) to prolong the life of and help make a water-tight connection. Check: If the male threads are too short when threaded into the female hose fitting to seat against the hose washer, the fitting will leak. Not all parts are manufactured to the exact same specifications, so lengths of male fittings and female sockets are not always consistent or compatible. Make sure there is a bit of space between the outside shoulders of the male/female connection. Check: Make sure the connection is hand tight but not TOO tight. Over tightening can cause a leak. Check: Make sure you haven’t mixed threads. Pipe and Hose threads are incompatible. Connecting unlike threads can cause leaks, permanently deform the fittings, and result in serious issues down the road. What do I do about leaks? Leaks happen in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. But the vast majority occurs at the threads. Check: How are the pipes/tubing joined? Are they hose thread by hose thread? Pipe thread by pipe thread? Hose thread by pipe thread? To stop hose thread leaks, lubricate the washer or O-ring with HLUBE) and hand tighten. If the leak persists, it might be time for a new washer/O-ring. Worst-case: the fitting has failed, but this is rare. Why is my MixRite injector drawing fertilizer and clicking at a slower rate than it used to? These symptoms indicate the seals are wearing out. You can replace your seals with the extra seals that came with your injector, or you can purchase a replacement seal kit (IMR##SLKIT). An assembly video is available at the following link. Mixrite Seal Replacement Instructional Video My MixRite injector used to draw fertilizer but has recently stopped. What could be wrong? Why has my MixRite stopped drawing fertilizer? Check that the washer at the top of the suction tube is in place and has a tight seal. Look to see that the check valve, just above the suction assembly, is not clogged with debris, moves freely, and is able to fully close. Make sure the screen at the bottom of the suction tube is clear of debris as well. Why is my pressure regulator weeping? A normally operating pressure regulator or limit valve will weep occasionally as a normal response to hydrodynamic variations. Why does my battery timer come on but not shut off? Timers with a diaphragm need a minimum flow and pressure to operate correctly, usually 30 gph and 10 psi. Water surge on start-up can “fool” the timer into opening but once the initial flow and pressure drop it will not close when scheduled. To test this, open the end of your mainline and, if the timer shuts off when it is supposed to, you know you do not have enough water flowing through your system. If you have several small zones, you might consider consolidation to fewer, larger zones to increase flow. Why won’t my Galcon High Flow timer shut off like it used to? The Galcon High Flow timer (TGNHF) has a manual on/off “switch”, a yellow/orange handle on the downstream side of the timer. If the timer will not shut-off it may mean that this handle was turned. Turn it back and check to see if the water stops flowing. This should return the timer to its normal programming. If it still does not operate correctly, it could relate to *debris blocking the valve or other problems. Valve Troubleshooting Guide *Note: debris in ANY valve or timer can cause operating issues and is not covered by warranty Why is it that my water meter reads high usage while the water level in my tank seems to remain about the same and my crops do not seem to be getting enough water? If the water meter is showing flow, it can be either water or air. Air can travel at 29 times the velocity of water and a water meter does not distinguish the difference between the two. If there is relatively little water loss but the meter continues to register usage, you may need to place an air bleed valve at a high point before the meter to eliminate trapped air. My battery timer worked fine at first but now water barely trickles out. Could dirty water be the cause? Yes. It sounds like the hose washer screen is clogged with debris. Be sure to clean the screen frequently or, better yet, install a larger, constant pressure filter before the timer to insure it stays clean. I turn on my EZ-Flo injection system and no fertilizer seems to be coming out while water is coming in. What should I do? If there is no fertilizer flowing after a few minutes of operation, shut off the system, wait a few moments and restart it. When starting, the system water flows into the tank until it is totally full and at the same pressure as the watering system. Fertilizer will begin to flow once this has happened. This can take a minute or more when the tank is refilling. Remember, the tank must be completely full of fluid before fertilizer starts to flow. Fertilizer with dark dye coloring will look darker flowing through the clear tubing than lighter colored fertilizers, even though they are feeding at the same rate. With low flow systems the fertilizer flowing through the tubing may have less color because the system automatically adjusts the fertilizer ratio to the water going through the system. Dry fertilizers can take longer to begin flowing than liquid fertilizers because they need to dissolve first. If you are using tubing valves, make sure they are in the “on” position. The green fitting on the cap is connected to the clear, downstream tube, while the blue fitting on the cap is connected to the black, upstream tubing.

Here is how you can check your drip irrigation system for problems

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Drip system for potted plants is the best choice if you are looking for an irrigation system for your planter garden. They are more efficient, do not waste water, and keep moisture levels at ideal values for plants. This article teaches you all about them and how to get set up irrigating your planter garden with drip irrigation.

Advantages of Drip System for Potted Plants

A drip irrigation system for planters basically consist of hoses with small holes drilled into them, through which water is poured slowly so that plants can receive just the right amount of precious liquid. Unlike other watering systems, drip irrigation systems are a green choice, great water savers, as well as time and effort savers. They are now favored by many gardeners because they can turn any garden into a beautiful one, with minimal effort, time spent and water consumption.

Conserving Supplies of Clean Water

Clean, healthy water is a precious resource in the world we are living in today. Water shortages become more frequent as the world population grows. Under the circumstances, the wise choice is to use systems that are not wasteful of this natural resource.

The main advantage offered by drip irrigation for planters is the ability to water each potted plant with just the right amount of water, without overflowing the pot or starving the plant. The best part is that each drop of water goes directly in the soil, and it is not lost through evaporation or surface runoff. This means that you can offer your plants ideal watering conditions, without wasting water.

Combat Fungal Diseases

There are many fungal diseases that affect plant leaves, when water stays for too long on the foliage, without drying. This is the main disadvantage of sprinkling systems. As they spread water over a large surface, it is inevitable that some of it will end up on the leaves of all the plants in that area.

This does not happen when using a drip irrigation system. Because the water ends up slowly infiltrating the soil, and feeding the roots, but without being sprinkled from above, it is obvious why drip irrigation system is preferred, especially when you want to combat fungal diseases in your plants.

Convenience

Drip irrigation system for planters has a major advantage over other types of systems: convenience. By setting a timer, you can automate the system to water each of your potted plants regularly, without having to lift as much as a finger, something that cannot be said about other watering systems.

An Ideal Solution for Gardens and Potted Plants

At first glance, it would look like drip irrigation system must be conducted over a large patch of land, but this is not always the case. These systems can be adapted for small gardens and especially for potted plants.

As long as the system is designed so that the dripping holes are positioned next to each plant, ideal conditions for watering can be achieved. Potted plants can benefit greatly from this type of watering system as it also greatly reduces the appearance of weeds in each garden pot. Weeds can be an issue when growing plants in large planters, since it can become very difficult to pluck all the weeds regularly from the pots.

Water Slowly Seeps Into the Soil

When plants are grown in containers or well delimited gardens, watering cannot be left to the care of weather, even if the pots they grow in are left outside. Sprinkling systems and drip trays represent a waste of water, and they are not very efficient either.

A drip irrigation system allows the water to slowly seep into the soil. This way, plants receive just the right amount of moisture, and they are never suffocated by too much water, as it can happen when other types of watering systems are used.

What is equally important, the soil gets to maintain all the nutrients, as they are not washed away by water pouring quickly through it. This way, plants get the best care they can possibly have access to, while gardeners do not have to waste time and effort.

They Do Not Encourage Weed Growth

Weeds represent an important problem for many gardeners, as they are unsightly, and they tend to suffocate other plants inside the pots. When using drip trays, for instance, the first to benefit from the excess of water in the pots are these unwanted guests. They begin sprouting and before you even notice it, they have already started taking over your garden. Removing them is hard work, and it may never really end.

With drip irrigation systems, these enemies are kept at bay. Since the system only feeds water to the roots of the plants you grow, there is not much left for other sprouts waiting to hatch in the soil. In dry soil, they cannot live for too long, and your potted garden is easily maintained weed free.

They Combat Wet Foliage Diseases

Sprinkling may be considered, by many, a convenient solution to any watering needs for a garden. However, there is one big disadvantage that must be taken into consideration. Water sprinkled through the garden partially remains on leaves, promoting the appearance of various wet foliage diseases.

As drip irrigation systems only pour water at the root of the plants, they actually combat such diseases.

How to Purchase the Best Drip Irrigation System for Planters

Drip irrigation system for planters designs are considered the best option for watering a potted garden without wasting precious water. Because of the many benefits of these systems, many gardeners prefer to use them as they are efficient, non-intrusive, and the best choice for many plants. Putting together the best drip irrigation system for planters is fairly easy, but you will need to purchase the best components if you want it to function flawlessly. Here are some pointers on the main components that will help you with your shopping.

The Qualities of a Backflow Preventer

Since the drip irrigation will be connected to the source of water, in case of overflowing, your plumbing can get damaged. What you need is a backflow preventer, a component that will ensure your plumbing will be kept in good shape. When you design the layout for the best drip irrigation system for your planters, establish the areas where you will need to install backflow preventers.

Buying a Pressure Regulator

A drip irrigation system is called this way, because the water slowly drips on the soil, nurturing the roots of the potted plants. The water that is normally running through the pipelines has quite a high pressure, compared to what is needed for these systems. Therefore, you will need what is called a pressure regulator to go with your device.

Different Tubing Sizes

Tubing is the most visible part of your drip irrigation system for planters. This comes in various sizes, and you need to decide which ones you will use for your garden or potted plants. Black polyethylene is the common material used for making these tubes and even microtubes are available, if you need to insert them in particularly cramped places.

What to Look for in Emitters

Now that you have all the major components of the best drip irrigation system for planters, you will need to purchase some emitters, as well. The great part about these components is that they come with different flow rates, so you can adjust the system based on what your plants need. Since not all the plants have the same watering requirements, emitters come very handy, as you will be basically micro-managing your garden. There are three types of emitters that are more common: bubblers, which are used mainly for trees and shrubs, and they deliver a higher amount of water; drippers are ideal for nurturing roots with the exact amount of water needed; and misters which are made for maintaining moisture.

Do Not Forget About Fittings

You cannot simply create your drip irrigation system for planters by using tubing alone. You will also need a wide variety of fittings, depending on your garden layout. Straight fittings serve for connecting one tube to another, while elbow fittings allow the system to take right angle turns. Do not forget about tee splitters and figure eight fittings, needed for the end of the line.

Other Components

To put the entire system together, you will also need other components, such as a timer (for automating the system), stakes and risers, a hole punch and a barbed adapter for connecting the emitters to the tubing.

Drip Irrigation System Installation in Your Garden Planters

Drip irrigation system designs represent, at the moment, the best option for watering garden planters, even one of larger dimensions. These systems are water-efficient, time-efficient and, if they are automated, they take much of the work off the shoulders of any gardener. The single issue with drip irrigation is that you need to install it in the beginning, so that all your plants receive the much needed water. Here are the steps to follow for a drip irrigation system installation project.

Draw Boundaries

It is important to keep in mind that you need to measure the area that is going to be watered in this manner, so you can calculate all the needed materials for the drip irrigation system installation for your planters. Any type of garden can be watered like this, even one that is composed of large planters, without plants growing from the ground.

Establish a Water Source

The drip irrigation system installation must have access to a water source. Install a hose-pipe connector in shape of the letter Y, to ensure that water is distributed evenly to your garden and other watering needs. Attach the connector to a nozzle (for the water source) at one side and the system of hoses for irrigation on the other.

First Design the Layout

The best thing about drip irrigation system for planters is that they can water only the roots of your plants, without wasting one drop. However, you need to design a layout first, so that the dripping holes do not end up pouring water over areas where there are no plants whatsoever. Even if this stage requires some time and effort, it is very important for obtaining the best results later on.

Additional Materials

Besides the hoses that will be installed throughout your container garden , you will also need some additional materials. First of all, you will need a timer, so you can automate watering. You will also need a back-flow valve, to avoid accidents that can lead to damage to your plumbing pipes. Install filters, as well, to prevent rust and dirt from accumulating in the drip lines.

Connecting the System

Use drip lines and connectors to put together the entire ensemble. If the layout you have designed earlier is accurate, you will do this with very little effort. After the ensemble of drip lines is ready, connect it to the Y shape connector, so that it can start receiving water.

Last Checks

Once your drip irrigation system is ready, it is time to put it to the test. Let the water run more powerfully at first, to see if it comes out through all the dripping holes. Use the nozzle from the water source to adjust the flow, so that your plants do not get too much water.

At this point, it is very important to check for possible leaks. In case you discover problems, you can apply some tape to correct them.

Set the timer to automate your garden watering system. Now, you can sit back and enjoy watching your garden grow!

Summary Article Name Drip Irrigation System for Garden Pots and Planters Description This article discusses the advantages of drip irrigation for planters compared to other irrigation systems. It also talks about what you need and how to install drip irrigation system. Author Nicholas Jones

Indoor Plant Watering Systems

Setting up an automatic watering system frees up precious time while keeping your garden healthy.

There are many reasons people decide to set up a self-watering system. Whether they are planning several vacations and day trips over the summer, or just have a busy schedule where watering the garden is not at the top of the list.

Having an automatic plant watering system is one of those gadgets that help make daily life just a little bit easier.

Here are a few of the most popular automated watering systems.

There are several different types of indoor plant watering systems. Depending on the level of automation needed, you may use a plant watering globe, an indoor drip system or self-watering container.

1. Plant Watering Globes and Spikes

Plant Watering Spikes

One of the more successful and attractive indoor systems is a water spike. There are several different manufacturers of this device, which gives you a choice of styles and appearance, as well as cost.

The basic premise of the plant watering spike is the fact that it is a reservoir that waters your plants through capillary action. The spike itself is made of unglazed ceramic or other porous material. It sits almost flush with the surface level dirt in each herb pot, with the spike beneath the surface.

A small plastic tube goes from the spike to the nearby reservoir, and when the soil around the spike gets dry, it automatically draws water through the device into the soil. Yes, this does involve a reservoir, but some of the containers are quite attractive.

Terracotta Plant Watering Spikes

Some watering spikes do not come with a reservoir, so you have to supply one on your own. I like the terracotta plant waterers as they have a natural look and you can choose the long-neck bottle of your choice such as a pretty wine bottle. Some folks have also used the 2-liter soda bottles however, it becomes a little top heavy when full. Place the reservoir above the plants so the siphoning action will work properly.

Plant Watering Globes

Pretty and practical ways to water your herb pots

For your containers, both inside and outside, Plant Watering Globe Stakes are quite popular. These are lovely glass globes with a hollow spike. You fill the globe with water and insert the spike into the soil. As the soil dries out, water leaches from the globe into the soil.

These self-watering globes are an attractive way to water your plants without having hoses and tubes trailing everywhere. Large pots may require more than one globe.

2. Indoor Drip Watering Systems

Drip watering systems can take the guesswork out of watering your plants. You don’t have to remember when you last refilled the reservoir on your self-contained pots. Instead, you can run a drip system to those same pots and set a timer.

Watch your indoor drip systems carefully to prevent over-watering.

Drip watering systems are possibly one of the more unsightly systems, as you have obvious tubes running hither and yon across your herb pot collection. However, for low-maintenance watering, this can hardly be beat. You can also be creative in your design to camouflage the drip lines.

One strategy to keep in mind when using this type of watering system is that there is no way for the dirt in the pot itself to regulate the water flow, as it does with most self-watering pots. The timer on the water source turns on, and drips water into the pot for X amount of time, then turns off. If your herbs do not require much water, you run the chance of overwatering them. Or perhaps even flooding your garden area.

If you elect a drip system, consider having two timing systems. Your “wet feet” herbs will need to be watered more frequently with less water, while the herbs that prefer “dry feet” will need to be watered for longer with more time between watering.

The Oasis Plant Watering System is a great example of this type of drip system. It is completely independent from your faucet since it has a water reservoir that can hold up to 6.6 gallons. You can adjust the number of days, by simply turning a dial for up to 40 days and it can water up to 20 plants.

The Oasis Plant Watering System (as seen on TV)

If you are planning a vacation, this is exactly the type of system that will keep your plants healthy & watered. You won’t need to hire a house sitter or beg a friend to come in and water your plants while you are away. The Oasis is a unique type of automatic watering solution perfect for those who frequently travel, need to go out of town or are just plain forgetful.

3. Self Watering Pots and Containers

Self-watering planters and pots are a must have in the container herb garden. These planters come in multiple colors and sizes to allow for almost any design style. A good self-watering pot should have a reservoir deep enough to store at least several days of water and allow for easy access to refill as needed.

There are several self-watering pots on the market today. Here are a few of the more interesting ones.

The Self Watering Pot Reservoir

A self-watering conversion kit is a nice low-cost option to build your own low maintenance watering system.

Self-Watering Pot Reservoir For Planters

I love this option for the simple fact that it can convert any existing pot or planter to one that will water itself. Self-watering pots are great, but most are plastic – and you may have limited style and color options. With these conversion kits, you can select convert a heavyweight ceramic or stone planter into a self-watering unit.

Self Watering Mini-Pots

The size of these mini-planter pots is just right to hold a 3 to 3-1/2 inch pot. This is just the right size for most herbs sold in your local garden center, making the whole planting process super easy. Just pick up a few of your favorite herbs, discard the plastic or peat pot the herb was sold in, place it in the container and fill up the reservoir.

3 Pack of Self Watering Mini 3.5″ Planter Pots

This trio of pots are sold on Amazon and include both the soil and germination bags in case you want to start your herbs from seeds. The size is 4 inches wide and 3.5 inches tall. They look great on a window sill.

Stackable Self Watering Containers

Stackable self-watering planters let you grow several herbs in a small space.

Stackable self-watering containers are a nice way to grow a variety of herbs in a compact space. They work easily when placed near a nice sunny window or porch. The one on the right includes twelve individual growing pots which allows for plenty of variety.

There is a water reservoir inside the planter to keep your herbs well hydrated. Water from the top and it will trickle down through the system. These type of modular stacking planters are versatile to let you add layers as your garden grows. They also work well indoors where you don’t have too much room. So find a nice sunny spot and enjoy fresh herbs indoors this year!

Vertical Herb Garden Wall

The vertical herb garden wall is a unique concept which will surely make your herb garden the talk of the town. There are many different versions of this type of product hitting the market lately. This is a great way to grow up instead of out, especially when space is at a premium. Some are mounted on the wall – others outside on a fence or you can always stay a little more traditional and lay it flat.

Worth Garden Self-Dripping Vertical Garden Wall Planters

Most of these planters include a water distribution system where you add water to the top & it will distribute water equally to all your herbs. The one pictured above is sold in 3, 6 or 9 pocket configurations and includes a self dripping watering system and is available from Worth Gardens (on Amazon). See the different options available here = > Worth Garden Self-Dripping Vertical Garden Wall Planters

Grow spreading herbs like mint or thyme that will drape over the sides of the garden boxes to create an edible living piece of art.

Outdoor Automatic Watering Systems

Timers are an important part of setting up an automated system. By setting up a timer system to water your garden you can keep your plants from getting stressed from over or under watering. Setting up your irrigation system with the right schedule can also conserve water.

Orbit1 Dial Electronic Hose Timer

There are a few ways timers can be used to water the garden. They can be hooked up to your hose, sprinkler or drip systems. Timers let you decide when and how often to water. Once you have the setup the schedule, the timer will do the rest. Here are a few different types of electronic timers.

Electric Hose Timers

Attach the timer to your water spigot, then connect your hose. Electric hose timers are best combined with either a sprinkler, soaker hose or drip irrigation system. You choose the length and frequency of the watering cycle, then program it into the timer. The Orbit 1 electronic timer to the right also has a rain delay feature that helps to prevent over watering your garden without resetting the timer.

Gilmour Oscillating Sprinkler With Timer

Sprinklers with Timers

Oscillating Sprinklers connect to your hose then evenly distribute the water in your garden. The Gilmour Oscillating Sprinkler comes with a unique feature where you can also set a timer or up to 2 hours. This prevents over-watering in case you get tied up or forget to turn it off. There is also an always-on feature when you want to override the timer.

5. Soaker Hoses

Soaker hoses are one of the best ways to water your garden. You can also bury the hoses so they are all but invisible. Soaker and weeper hoses are one of the most economical ways to keep your garden watered.

They deposit water directly in the soil, which means there is less chance of evaporation and you actually use less water. The water is also less likely to lay on the ground or leaves causing mold and mildew to collect on the ground near your plants

Tips for Setting up a Soaker Hose

  • Cover the hose with a layer of mulch so it blends in with your bed. This can also prevent mineral build-up which may clog the hose.
  • Use small twigs or stakes to keep the hose in place, especially if your garden beds are frequented by animals which may knock the hose away from your plants.
  • It may take 10 minutes or so for the water to reach the end of the hose and build enough pressure to start watering evenly. Include this lead time in your schedule.
  • Smooth out any kinks and try to avoid unnecessary turns. This will allow the water to flow easier to all parts of the hose.

6. Outdoor Drip Irrigation Systems

A drip irrigation system will bring the water directly to the plant’s roots.

A drip irrigation system is ideal for most plants since it brings the water directly to your plant’s roots. This is achieved by installing drip emitters next to your plants which are connected by a feeder hose which carries the water. The water is released in a slow and steady drip exactly where it is needed so these systems are also very efficient in conserving water.

The beauty of a drip-irrigation system is you can customize the amounts of water given to plants with different requirements. Simply place more lines running to the plants or herbs that require more water and less to plants that prefer to be on the dry side. You can even set up a container drip irrigation system on your patio to make sure all your potted plants stay well watered.

7. Self Watering Containers

Having a potted herb garden is a great way to add color and flexibility to your garden. However, potted herbs dry out much faster than herbs planted in the ground, so under watering is very common especially in the hotter months. Self-watering window boxes and planters are usually larger than their smaller container cousins, and can, therefore, hide some of the mechanics that make them work.

Self Watering Planters

Self-watering planters are perfect for combining groups of herbs and storing them on your patio or deck for easy access to the kitchen. They are also nice and deep which means you can combine more plants in a single planter.

Glowpear Urban Garden Self-Watering Planter (available on Amazon)

The Urban Garden bench planter is a good example of a longer planter with many herbs growing together. The design is raised just a few inches off the ground which is much better for your patio or deck. A mini version is also available that is suitable for indoor out outdoor use.

Self Watering Window Boxes

Window boxes are a great way to grow herbs. They attach to the outside of your window so they get great light, while still being very accessible from the indoors. This way your plants get the best of both worlds.

Window Box Planter, 3-Foot, White

A beautiful example of a self-watering window box is the Fairfield Self Watering Window Box. It is made from high-grade polyethylene so will hold up to nature’s elements without losing its beauty. The self-watering feature is a built-in water reservoir so your plants will draw up the water as needed. The dimensions of the window box are 36″W x 11″D x 10.8″H. This is a perfect example of beauty, form and function that can transform your window into your very own windowsill herb garden.

8. Self Watering Hanging Baskets

Herbs grow beautifully in hanging baskets.

Hanging baskets are a beautiful way to add herbs or flowers to your landscape without taking up too much space. You can hang them on your balcony, porch or front entryway. These self-watering hanging baskets are a nice way to keep your plants hydrated without too much fuss.

When choosing a hanging basket, look for a pot that is at least 5 inches deep in order to establish a healthy root system. Another good feature is a hole in the side of the pot to allow for easy watering. The reservoir system in the bottom of the pot will allow the plants to draw up water from their roots as they need it, ensuring a healthy and happy plant.

What if you already have a hanging basket? A hanging basket drip pan can be used to fit over your existing basket. This serves 2 purposes. First, it will keep the water from dripping out of the bottom of your basket onto your patio when you water a bit too much. Secondly, it will store the extra water in the plastic liner, keeping your herb plants moist. They are made from clear plastic so are hardly noticeable when used over any color hanging basket.

Automatic Plant Watering Schedule Tips

Setting up an irrigation system is important to maintain healthy plants while freeing you up to do other activities. When setting up your irrigation system, it is important to evaluate your watering schedule depending on the maturity of your plants, their growing cycle and the time of year.

Here are a few tips to help you plan your watering schedule.

  • Ideally, water your garden early in the morning. This allows the roots to soak up the moisture before temperatures rise and prepare for the heat of the day.
  • Plants in their heavy flowering or fruiting cycle will need more water.
  • Always give a long thorough soak to newly planted flowers and herbs.
  • Established perennials do better with less frequent, but longer watering times.
  • Water more frequently in the heat of the summer and less often in the cooler months.

While automatic plant watering systems may make herb gardening easier, you will still want to keep an eye on them and make adjustments where necessary. However, any of these systems will reduce the daily care required to keep your herbs beautiful and healthy.

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DIY Drip Irrigation System for Containers

You’re leaving for summer vacation and realize you don’t want to come home to scorched, dead flowers (or pay a plant sitter to come over to water). You can make your own irrigation system to water your container gardens from poly pipes and plastic piping parts from the hardware store. The best part is that you can customize your system to fit your garden’s size and care needs, unlike store-bought systems that may require you to move your heavy containers. Follow these steps to create your own irrigation system for container gardens.

Supplies Needed

  • Drip irrigation kit (this will be helpful to get you started, but make sure you have the supplies below either in the kit or in addition to the kit)
  • Two-way garden hose connector (1/2” faucet hose fitting)
  • Irrigation timer
  • Pressure regulator
  • Mainline drip irrigation hose (1/2” poly drip irrigation tubing)
  • Plant containers
  • Tape measure
  • Tape
  • PVC pipe cutting saw, or a PVC cutting tool (for cutting the poly tubing)
  • Poly tubing end cap
  • Hammer
  • Irrigation micro tubing (1/4” vinyl micro tubing)
  • Drip irrigation hole punch
  • Drip line connectors
  • Drip hose goof plugs (to patch holes that are mispunched)
  • Potting soil
  • Plants
  • Irrigation drippers with spikes, one for each pot

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Step-by-Step Instructions

With supplies from an irrigation kit (or your assembled kit from the hardware store), you can easily install an irrigation system that will keep container plants happy all summer long. For a no-worry garden, attach it to a timer so you know your flowers will be getting enough water even if you aren’t home.

Step 1: Attach 2-Way Garden Hose Connector to Outdoor Water Faucet

Attach the two-way garden hose connecter to the outside faucet. Attach an irrigation timer to one end of the hose connector. Secure the pressure regulator to the timer.

Step 2: Attach Poly Main Line Tubing to Hose Fitting

Push the tubing onto the hose fitting. Tighten the collar over the tubing.

Step 3: Design Tubing Layout

Lay out the tubing and pots to determine the design. Measure where each pot is and mark the tubing (you can use little pieces of tape to mark the tubing). Then, cut the end of the tubing and cap it. Anchor the tubing and hammer down the anchors for security.

Measure the length from the marked spots on the tubing to the spot where the drip head will be inside the pot (add a few extra inches to allow for slightly moving the pots if needed).

Step 4: Install the Irrigation Tubing

Punch a hole in the mainline poly tubing using the drip irrigation hole punch at every spot you marked. If you punch a hole in the wrong spot, it’s not the end of the world—that’s what goof plugs are for. Attach a dripline connector first to the mainline tube, then attach the micro tubing drip hose onto the other end of the connector.

Related: How to Make a Self-Watering Container

Step 5: Install Irrigation Drippers

Plug dripper heads into the open end of the micro tubing, and then put them in your container. Center the dripper head in each pot so that it’s just to one side of where you plan to insert your plants (the dripper’s spike is sharp, so it’s easy to insert into the soil). Fill your containers with soil—making sure the tubing is buried under the soil. Then add your plants and enjoy.

Step 1: Overview of drip system

Whether you’re growing roses to win prizes or just trying to keep a few flowerbeds looking good, you know what a chore watering is, lugging hoses around the yard and moving them every half hour or so. Micro irrigation—a network of plastic tubing and low-volume drippers and sprinklers that reach every part of the garden you want to water—takes the hassle out of watering.

The materials are inexpensive and easy to install using nothing more than a pruning shears and a special hole punch tool. Once you lay out the tubing and connect the drippers, sprinklers or sprayers, you’ll be able to water your plants by simply turning on the water and letting it run for an hour or two. Add a battery-operated controller and you won’t even have to remember to turn on the water. It’ll turn the water on and off automatically at the times you select.

Micro irrigation saves more than time and energy; it saves water by distributing it more efficiently. Because you use dozens of watering devices to replace one regular sprinkler, you have much greater control over where the water goes and how much is supplied to each plant. Instead of flooding the ground all at once, micro irrigation lets you apply a small amount over longer periods, allowing the watert to soak into the plants’ root zone for maximum benefit. And since runoff and evaporation are kept to a minimum, micro irrigation uses less water.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the basics of micro irrigation, including planning tips and step-by-step installation instructions. For more details, especially in the planning phase, we recommend that you also read through one of the manufacturers’ free planning guides or browse relevant internet sites.

Figure A: Planning a DIY Micro Irrigation System

Start by making a sketch of your garden so you can map out the tubing route and the watering devices you decide to use.

Where to buy drip irrigation systems

You can find kits and individual components online and at home centers, garden centers and plumbing suppliers. A basic kit that waters up to 20 containers or a 75-sq.-ft. area costs $25 to $50 and comes with everything you need except the timer. Higher quality kits may cost $70 or more.

Step 2: Make a sketch and plan the drip irrigation system

If this is your first venture into micro irrigation, start small and experiment to get a feel for how the system works. Choose one or two flowerbeds or a garden and install a simple one-zone garden drip system.

The basic planning strategy is to pick the best watering device to serve each type of plant. Then determine a flow rate that supplies adequate water to every plant in the watering zone. Set up the system to run between one and two hours at a time, two or three times a week.

Start by measuring your garden and making a simple sketch. Choose the type and flow rate of the watering devices based on your soil and the plants’ water needs. Mark these on the drip irrigation system plan and draw in the tubing route to connect them. This will involve a little guesswork. See “Step 6: Drippers, Bubblers, Sprinklers and Sprayers” below for information that will help you choose the right watering device. Try to cover all the root zones of your plants. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect at first. Add a few extra of each type of watering device and buy the watering devices, tubing and the basic parts shown in Figure B for the faucet hookup. Once you see how the drip irrigation system works, you’ll find it’s easy to relocate or add emitters to get a more balanced water flow or better coverage.

DIY irrigation system planning rules of thumb:

  • Use 1/2-gph drippers in clay soil,1-gph drippers in loam and 2-gph drippers in sandy soil.
  • Add the gallons per hour (gph) rate of all drippers, bubblers, sprayers and sprinklers you plan to use. If you’re using 1/2-in. tubing for the main line, limit the total to between 150 and 220 gallons per hour (check with the manufacturer).
  • Limit the length of 1/2-in. tubing on one zone to a maximum of about 200 ft.
  • Limit the total gph on a length of 1/4-in. tubing to 25 to 30.

As you add to the system, it’s best to divide your yard into groups of plants that have similar watering requirements. With this strategy, you add a separate system (zone), starting at the water source, for each group of plants or area of the yard. For help with planning a large, more complicated system (and for the best prices), work with a retailer that specializes in micro irrigation.

The parts of a drip irrigation system

Battery-operated timer. One 9-volt battery will last an entire season. $30 to $50 depending on the model.

Backflow preventer. Prevents dirty garden water from flowing back into your household water lines.

Screen filter. Traps particles that could clog the emitters. May be separate or part of the backflow device.

Pressure regulator. Lowers the incoming water pressure to a level the drip system can tolerate; 25 to 30 psi is standard.

Hose adapter Connects. water source to the main line.

1/2-in. main line. Don’t exceed 200 ft. of tubing in a single circuit.

Elbow fitting. Connects sections of hose to one another or other components.

Preinstalled emitter. Spaced every 6 to 12 in.; good for straight rows of plants and for shrubs.

Hole punch. Makes ports in the main line to connect watering devices and 1/4-in. tubing.

1/2-gph pressure-compensating dripper. Ideal for flat and hillside terrain and heavy clay soil.

Hose end clamps. Closes off the end of the main line.

1/4-in. barbed tee. Allows branching to 1/4-in. from 1/2-in. lines.

Tubing stakes and adjustable sprayer. You can mix and match watering devices, but don’t use more than 150 gallons per hour (gph) on a single circuit.

1/4-in. micro tubing. Good for containers, zoned areas and customizing your system. Comes in a variety of colors to help hide it. Don’t exceed 50 ft. of 1/4-in. tubing in a single circuit.

1/4-in. barbed connector. Connects 1/4-in. micro tubing to the main line.

Goof plugs. Plug unneeded holes when you change the placement of your tubing, watering devices or landscaping.

Assorted emitters. Adjustable emitters, also called shrubblers and drippers, can apply as little as 1/2 gph or as much as 10 gph. The right number, type and size of emitters depend on plant type, soil and weather conditions. The yellow flag dripper shown can be taken apart and cleaned.

Tee fitting. Creates branch lines to expand and customize the system.

1/2-in. universal coupler. Allows you to cut out damaged tubing and install new line.

Hose end clamps. Closes off the end of the main line.

The basic DIY drip irrigation system

Drip irrigation systems have been around for years, but the early versions were clunky to install and prone to clogging and leaking. Newer systems are affordable, customizable and leak-proof, and they go together easily. System components vary slightly among manufacturers, but generally, you hook up the faucet assembly at the hose bib and run the 1/2-in. main line around your landscape. You can buy main line with prepunched emitter holes or punch your own holes and install in-line emitters. Or you can use leak-proof connectors to run 1/4-in. tubing to where you need it and attach the watering device of your choice. A basic system goes together in just an hour or two and is easy to expand. There are many excellent videos and other resources online to help you plan your system.

These drip systems are pressure compensated, so the water flow is even throughout the length of the tubing. The different emitters and adjustable spray heads let you vary the amount of water based on the weather and plant needs. There are drip watering systems for all sorts of different landscape elements including trees, vegetable gardens, containers and hanging baskets. You can even convert underground sprinklers to drip water systems. The primary differences among them are the kinds of emitters/watering devices they use.

Step 3: Begin at the outside faucet

Photo 1: Add a ‘Y’

Mount a ‘Y’ with shutoff valves to your faucet. Then attach the optional timer, backflow preventer, filter, pressure regulator and adapter.

Figure B and Photo 1 show the parts you’ll need and the order in which to install them. The Y-splitter with shutoffs allows you to keep the drip system on all the time (and operated by a controller) and still use your regular garden hose (Photo 1). You don’t have to use a controller, but you must use a backflow preventer. Some of these components are available with hose thread or pipe thread, so make sure to match the thread type when you buy parts. Joining hose thread to pipe thread will result in leaks.

Garden drip system irrigation installation and design tips

  • Soak the tubing in warm water or lay it out in the sun for a little while to soften it and make it easier to work with.
  • Hold the hole punch at a right angle to the tubing when you punch a hole for an emitter or a connector. This makes a round hole that will seal tightly around the barb of the emitter.
  • Flush out the system before installing emitters or other watering devices to clear it of any debris.
  • Create your lateral lines (1/4-in. tubing and emitters) before hooking them up to the main line.
  • If you have plants with drastically different watering requirements (like trees and containers), you can add or subtract the number of emitters or sprayers for each plant or, even better, break the system up into zones of plants with similar needs.

Step 4: Lay the 1/2-in. tubing

Photo 2: Lay out the tubing

Connect the 1/2-in. poly tubing to the faucet end. Then lay the tubing through the garden according to your plan. Stake it down about every 5 or 6 ft.

Photo 3: Install fittings

Cut the tubing with a pruning shears and install T- and 90-degree fittings where they’re needed. Twist and press the tubing firmly into the fitting.

Next, run the 1/2-in. tubing to the garden bed (Photo 2) and position it according to your plan. The tubing will be more flexible and easier to work with if you let it sit in the sun for a while to warm up. Remember, you can cover the tubing with decorative mulch later to hide it. Cut the tubing with a pruning shears. Use T-fittings to create branches and elbows to make 90-degree bends (Photo 3). Be aware that there are a few different sizes of what’s called “1/2-in.” tubing, depending on which brand you use. Buy fittings to match the brand of tubing you’re using. If you need to join two different brands of tubing or you’re not sure which you have, you can buy universal fittings that will work on all diameters of tubing. Use special plastic tubing clamps to nail the tubing to the house or deck.

You can bury 1/2-in. poly tubing in a shallow trench to conceal it as it crosses a path or small section of lawn, but for longer lengths, especially in high-traffic areas, we recommend substituting 1/2-in. PVC pipe instead. Buy adapters to connect the 1/2-in. poly tubing to the ends of the PVC pipe. Check with your local plumbing inspector before burying any pipe to see whether special backflow prevention is required.

Step 5: Connect the emitters

Photo 4: Punch holes

Punch holes in the tubing wherever you want to install a watering device. Push and twist until the tip of the punch creates a clean hole.

Photo 5: Push in the connector

Press a barbed connector into the hole in the 1/2-in. tubing. If the 1/4-in. tubing isn’t already attached, add a length of 1/4-in. tubing to reach your dripper, sprayer or sprinkler location.

Close up

Barbed connector

Photo 6: Install the drip system watering devices

Press pressure-compensating (PC) drippers, sprinklers or sprayers onto the end of the 1/4-in. tubing. Use a stake to support the dripper and anchor it in the root zone of the plant.

Photo 7: Flush, then cap the ends

Flush the drip irrigation system by running water through it. Then use end cap fittings to close the open ends of the 1/2-in. tubing.

Now add the various types of emitters for the particular plants— drippers, sprayers, sprinklers or drip line. The technique is simple. Use a hole punch tool to poke a hole in the tubing wherever you want to add a watering device (Photo 4). You can insert a dripper directly into the hole in the 1/2-in. tubing or use a barbed connector and connect a length of 1/4-in. vinyl tubing. Then connect a watering device to the end of the 1/4-in. tube (Photo 6).

You can buy sprinklers and sprayers as assemblies that include a barbed connector, a short length of 1/4-in. tubing and a plastic stake (Photo 5), or buy the parts separately and assemble them yourself. Remember to buy a selection of 1/4-in. barbed fittings, including T-fittings, elbows, connectors and hole plugs. You can press any of these fittings into a punched hole in the 1/2- in. line and connect 1/4-in. tubes to feed the emitters. T-fittings allow you to run 1/4-in. tubing in opposite directions from the main line or to branch off a 1/4-in. tube. Use connectors to extend a 1/4-in. tube that’s too short. If you punch a hole in the wrong spot or want to remove a fitting, push a hole plug into the hole to seal it.

When your DIY irrigation system installation is complete, run water through the tubing to flush out any dirt. Then cap the ends (Photo 7). Now you’re ready to turn on the water and see how your new micro irrigation system works. Let the water run for an hour. Then check around your plants to make sure the root zone has been thoroughly wetted. Fine-tune the system by adjusting the length of time you water or by adding or relocating watering devices.

Step 6: Drippers, bubblers, sprinklers and sprayers

Drippers

Use these to water individual plants, or buy ‘inline’ drippers and use them in a series with a 1/4-in. tube. Drippers work great for container plants too. They’re color-coded for different flow rates between 1/2 gph (gallons per hour) and 4 gph. In general, use lower flow rates for less porous soil, like clay, to allow more time for the water to soak in. Buy pressure-compensating (PC) drippers to maintain a steady flow despite the water pressure.

Colors signify different flow rates

Bubblers

A cross between drippers and sprayers, many bubblers are adjustable for flows up to 35 gph and diameters to 18 in. Since they put out more water than drippers, they’re good for larger plants like roses, tomatoes and shrubs.

Sprinklers

These are miniature versions of sprinklers you might use in the yard. Most have flow rates between 14 and 40 gph and cover a radius of 3 to 30 ft. Since most sprinklers have a relatively high flow rate, you can’t use more than about 15 or 20 in one zone of 1/2-in. tubing.

Sprayers

These are like sprinklers without moving parts. You can choose a spray pattern from a quarter circle up to a full circle, or buy sprayers with adjustable spray patterns. They spray from 4 to 34 gph and up to a radius of about 12 ft. Use sprayers to water ground cover or densely planted flowerbeds.

Soaker drip line

Also called emitter tubing, drip line consists of 1/2-in. or 1/4-in. tubing with built-in drippers. It’s available with emitters spaced different distances apart for different flow rates. Drip line is great for vegetable gardens or rows of plants. You can use it to encircle shrubs and large plants, or lay it out in a grid pattern as a substitute for sprinklers in a densely planted flowerbed. Use 1/4-in. drip line for maximum flexibility.

One of the first things you’ll notice when you’re browsing the brochures or Web sites is a wide variety of watering devices. Here are the basic types and a few things you need to know about each one. While the ones shown here are the most common, there are many other, more specialized emitters. See the micro irrigation catalogs for the other types and their uses.

Step 7: Maintain your drip irrigation system

  • Clean the filter once a month (more often if you have well water with a lot of sediment).
  • Inspect the drippers occasionally to make sure they’re working.
  • In cold climates, prepare for winter by removing the shutoff Y-splitter, backflow preventer, controller, filter and pressure regulator and bringing them inside. Remove end plugs and drain or blow the water out of the system. Replace the caps and plug the faucet end of the tubing as well.

Expert tips for container irrigation

Container gardening expert Rosalind Creasy is a writer, lecturer and landscape designer. She is the author of the 10-book ‘Edible Gardening’ series. She also wrote ‘Edible Landscaping,’ for which she won the American Horticulture Society Book Award.

Creasy says automatic drip irrigation is perfect for containers because they dry out so quickly and require daily watering in hot weather. She’s been using drip irrigation for more than a decade to grow an extensive selection of flowers and edible plants in containers at her northern California home. She says these online retailers, harmonyfarm.com and gardeners.com, are also good sources of information on installation, watering schedules and equipment options.

Here are some of Creasy’s tips for using drip irrigation for containers:

  • The goal is for the center of the plant’s root-ball to be damp but not soggy. Set a timer to water containers twice a day for five to ten minutes, depending on the plant and weather conditions.
  • You can also stick a soil moisture probe ($25 online and at garden centers) 6 to 8 in. into the container to check for wetness.
  • Watch the plant for signs that it needs water.
  • Don’t rely on rain for watering because mature plants shed water off the side of the container.
  • Choose adjustable emitters and sprayers with flow control so you can adjust the water pattern for individual plants as they grow.
  • For hanging baskets, run the 1/4-in. tubing up posts, under eaves or in the joint between two walls.
  • Consider adding a fertilizer injector to the faucet assembly so you can feed your plants while you water. These are available online (they start at about $30) and are installed downstream from the backflow preventer.
  • Install a good filter and change it every few months or at least once a season, especially if you have alkaline or mineral-rich water.

Required Tools for this DIY Drip Irrigation Project

The only tools you need are pruning shears and a special hole punch tool.

Required Materials for this DIY Drip Irrigation Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • 1/2-in. poly tubing
  • 1/4-in. vinyl tubing
  • adapter
  • backflow preventer
  • Barbed fittings
  • Filter
  • pressure regulator
  • small stakes
  • watering devices

A battery-operated controller to turn the system on and off is optional.

Gardener’s Drip Kit

Rain Bird’s most complete drip irrigation starter kit includes everything you need to water a garden or landscaped area up to 75 sq. ft. The kit features Rain Bird’s rugged ½ in. emitter tubing that has built-in emitters every 18 in. that are pressure compensating to provide uniform end-to-end watering of vegetable rows, ground cover and other closely spaced plants. Staked pressure-compensating drippers are also included for spot watering of individual plants. Simple installation involves running tubing on top of the ground from an outside faucet to the planting area where you place the emitter tubing and drippers near the base of your plants. The watering devices are clog resistant and specifically designed to provide dependable watering of all plants, helping ensure consistent growth, better vegetable yields and resistance to disease. The perfect gift for any gardening enthusiast, it attaches easily to any outside faucet and installs quickly without any digging or plumbing skills required.

Make your own slow drip irrigation system. It is a great way to water plants because it directs water right at the roots.

I found this information on a community gardening site called yougrowgirl.com several years ago and it does work. You can use it all the time if you have trouble finding the time or remembering to water your container gardens daily. It’s also good to use on a temporary basis if you are going to be away from home for a few days and don’t want your plants to wilt or die while you are away.

One of the best ways to provide a steady water supply to your plants without your constant attention is a gradual watering system or slow drip irrigation. A device is filled with water and it slowly delivers water into the soil directly around the roots. You can purchase a commercial system or watering spikes, but you can make this one at no cost.

Here’s what you need and how to do it

  • 2 empty 2-liter soda or water bottles – choose the size of bottle for the container you have.
  • The bottles will need their lids.
  • Drill and small bit
  • Sharp knife or shears

Drill several small holes into the cap of the plastic bottle – I put 6 in mine. If you want it to drip slower use less holes – faster requires more holes. Make the holes big enough that little pieces of soil, peat, etc wont clog them up.

Use your knife to remove the very bottom of the bottle. I use a serrated knife which works well and I also have some old, all purpose shears that will cut through the plastic once I get it started. Just cut the very bottom of the bottle so you will have as much of the container left as possible. The wide opening will make it easy for you to fill with water and it can catch rain water too.

Dig a hole behind a plant or in between a couple of plants in your container garden – it needs to be deep enough to bury about 1/3 of the bottle in the soil. You can hide it behind plants or flowers if you want to leave it there all the time – if you’re just using it temporarily, it won’t matter.

Place the bottle in the hole with the cap side down and secure it with soil to keep it in place. Fill the bottle with water until if is full. You can also add some water soluble fertilizer to the water if you’d like. The fertilizer is going to go straight to the roots which is great.

Fill the bottle when empty – depending on heat, wind, etc.

And now, you have an easy, no-cost slow drip irrigation system!

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New! Comments

Please leave me a comment and let me know if you like what you see here and if the information is helpful. Thanks.

In this age of environmental awareness, the slow drip irrigation system has really caught on as a superior method for watering lawns and flower gardens. Without a doubt, there is good reason for this. In the interest of saving water and preserving natural resources, people will go to whichever lengths possible to protect the environment, and the slow drip irrigation system is vastly superior to watering your lawn with a garden hose or sprinkler system. Below, we review the benefits of the slow drip irrigation system and also provide some helpful hints to assist you in the event that you decide to set up a slow drip irrigation system on your lawn.

Drip Irrigation is Great for Your Lawn and for the Envrionment

Why slow drip irrigation is so efficient

Slow drip irrigation uses plastic pipes to transport low-pressure water flow directly to the plants. Where a sprinkler system or garden hose covers a broad area that includes but is not limited to the region you want to water, the slow drip system is much more direct and therefore does not waste water. It is much slower than a sprinkler, which also limits the amount of overwatering that takes place. Because sprinklers and hoses shoot out water at such a great pace, they tend to over-hydrate your lawn and soil, which not only wastes water but is not healthy for your lawn. The slow drip system therefore offers the ideal mixture between air, water, and soil, giving your lawn and garden the equilibrium it needs to grow most effectively.

Disadvantages of the slow drip irrigation system

The main disadvantage is that because the end cap is kept so close to the soil, it is difficult to actually notice if the slow drip system begins to malfunction. Also, because the slow drip irrigation system offers low-pressure, it is not well-equipped to water large trees or other such vegetation.

Tips for an effective slow drip system

When setting up your slow drip system, remember that you don’t need to set it up in the ground. You can connect it to a pump or faucet as well. In any event, be sure to filter the water in order to keep algae and such debris out. In addition, you should also invest in a pressure regulator to make sure that your pressure is appropriate. Finally, in order to ensure that household water does not get tainted, it is crucial to remember to use backflow prevention.

The slow drip irrigation system is simple to install and great for your lawn and garden. They also offer environmental advantages, so installing one is one of the smartest changes you can make to your lawn this summer. For more tips on the slow-drop irrigation system visit this site.

When drippers have less or erratic flow, it is most often an indication of pressure loss. Pressure loss happens if there is a break in line or if one or more system limitations have been exceeded. Here are few questions that will help in troubleshooting dripper issues.

  1. How many drippers in your system and what are the flow rates? Every system has a maximum flow rate and this is often the one thing that is most exceeded. You will want to count up all drippers, sprayers, etc on the troubled system and add up the total flow requirement. For example, if you have five of #1105, our adjustable dripper, each one is equal to 10 – 15 GPH (depending on system pressure) so you may have a total flow of 50 – 75 GPH.
  2. What is the flow rate at your water source? This is crucial information when designing a system. If you do not know, please refer to our Flow Rate Calculator and Instructions on how to determine flow rate of your water source.
  3. What size mainline do you have? Each mainline has a maximum flow rate. Please refer to our Tubing Capacity charts.
  4. What is the run length of your mainline? Each mainline has a maximum run length. Please refer to our Tubing Capacity charts.

In most cases, you will discover the issue by working through these 4 easy steps.

Q. My drippers are spraying and not dripping; what should I do?

A. If you experience this, the first question we would ask is if you have a pressure regulator. If you don’t have a pressure regulator, then your water pressure may be too high. If you have a pressure regulator, then the next step would be to place your finger over the hole where the water comes out of the dripper and block the flow of water for a few seconds. This helps to reset the dripper. If you still experience this problem, check to see if the head of the dripper is screwed all the way down (only applicable for cleanable drippers).

Q. Why are my drippers not dripping?

A. If you are using pressure compensating drippers, it may be that your pressure is too low. PC drippers are designed to open at a set pressure (roughly 5 – 15 PSI) which varies by dripper type. If this is not achieved, the drippers may not open or will not regulate. The best remedy is to install a pressure regulator.

Q. My drippers are leaking from the hole in the tubing, what can I do?

A. If the drippers are leaking from the connection in the tubing, make sure the dripper is pushed in all the way. If a punch was used that is not for drip irrigation or is dull the dripper may not seal correctly. Also if the dripper has been removed and replaced a few times the holes can stretch. You may have to punch a new hole and plug the leaky hole with a goof plug.

Q. How close together should drippers be placed?

A. While there is no set spacing, placing your drip emitters too close together or too far apart can be a problem. Placing them evenly will ensure that your plants get the proper amount of water without having areas oversaturated. A good rule of thumb is to place a drip emitter evenly spaced along the plant line and a minimum of six inches from the base of the plant. Knowing your soil type and how the water moves through it is helpful. See our article: Know Your Soil Type.

Why is my drip line spraying, not dripping?

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Repair Drip Irrigation Guide: How To Fix It Yourself Without Your Gardener

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Drip irrigation is a very common water-wise method of watering plants in Southern California. Most homeowners inherit drip systems with their homes or have them installed during landscaping renovations, but not many people ever tinker with them.

Pressure builds, hoses get stepped on and weather can wear on the parts. Eventually, small leaks or even huge gushers can and do occur negate the water-wise advantage of the system. Or, maybe you need to move some plants around.

In either case, there is absolutely no need to rely on your gardener to administer these small fixes, because you can do it yourself at a fraction of the expense. Here’s how.

Drip Irrigation Parts to Keep on Hand

In case of emergency, it’s always best to keep a stash of these inexpensive parts in the garage. Remember that drip fittings clamp themselves together with an air tight seal that does not involve glue.

1. Drip irrigation tool –

The style depends on the manufacturer but this handy gadget is totally necessary to save your fingers and wrists from the unnecessary stress of jamming plugs and emitters into stubborn tubing. This tool can insert plugs with ease, punch holes in tubing for hoses and emitters, and some even have sharp scissors attached to cut tubes when needed.

2. Plugs –

When holes wear in the main tubing or perhaps you need to rearrange things based on plant growth, plugs (often referred to as goof plugs) will stop leaks. Insert them using the drip irrigation tool or by hand.

3. Waterproof tape –

Now, this won’t come in your standard drip irrigation starter kit but having waterproof tape on hand for the teeny tiny hairline leaks is sometimes enough to solve the problem in an easier fashion than slicing up the line.

4. Drip emitters –

These are the gadgets that control the amount of water that drips into your soil. Between the dirt in your yard and minerals in household water, drip emitters clog easily and need to be replaced. For this reason, it’s a good idea to turn on your system and check each emitter regularly to avoid unexpected plant death.

A variety of different emitters exist. Some look like discs with small tube sticking out while others look a little bit like a faucet. The most common emitters drip 4 liters/hour of water, which equals roughly a gallon. The flow speed is usually written on the emitter but it’s tough to see in the best of times, and can fade with prolonged use.

If you have plants on a drip system that aren’t getting enough water, change the emitter to 8 liters/hour or higher.

5. Couplers –

While not completely necessary to have on hand, couplers are straight, “L” shaped or “T” shaped usually to help weave your main drip tubing around your yard in an orderly fashion.

6. Extra tubing –

We’ll get into this in more depth below.

Things to Know About Drip Tubing

Before you go out and buy a bunch of drip supplies, remember that not all tubing is equal.

Drip tubing is the thicker tubing (usually about .5 – 1.5 inches in diameter) that the emitters and other distribution tubing are attached to. Think of it as the major artery running through your garden.

Distribution tubing is the smaller, usually 1/4″ in diameter, tubing that delivers water to plants via the emitters if the main drip tubing above is is far away.

Emitter tubing can be any size but already has spaced internal emitters inside that are usually 12 – 18 inches apart. It looks like a hose with holes in it and is handy for watering things like ground cover or evenly-spaced plants.

Soaker hoses slowly seep water with less accuracy into a large or small space. We have a 1/4″ soaker hose in our vegetable garden because we change out the plants there frequently and became tired of re-arranging drip lines.

And, the most important part to remember is that there is an internal hose diameter and external hose diameter. The drip fittings that you buy must match the internal dimensions of your tubing to avoid major headaches and physical strain. For example, 1/2″ drip tubing can come in these diameters (ID equals internal diameter and OD equals outside diameter):

1/2-inch – .520″ ID x .620″ OD
1/2-inch – .600″ ID x .700″ OD
1/2-inch – .615″ ID x .710″ OD

This may seem like a minuscule difference but it is not. If you’re just getting familiar with DIY drip irrigation, Rainbird has a started kit for sale on Amazon that contains the basics. However, a good rule of thumb is to stay with the same manufacturer once you get started as a good way to make sure your fittings always jive with the tubing you have.

Fixing Drip Irrigation

1. Plugging a small hole –

Attach a plug to your drip tool and shove it into the hole. Make sure the seal is airtight and secure. This also works if you need to plug the end of a drip distribution tube.

2. If the hole is big –

You may need to splice it out of the tubing which involves making a clean cut on each side of the hole and removing that section entirely. Reconnect the two hoses using a straight coupler.

3. Connecting new drip distributor tubing to main drip tubing –

Again, it depends on the system or brand you’re using but usually, you’ll punch a smaller, barbed coupler into the main tubing using your nifty drip tool. Connect one end of the 1/4″ tubing to the other end of the barb. The other end of the 1/4″ tubing will have an emitter or micro-sprinkler.

If you can master number three above, you can literally change your entire drip system around at will. And, don’t forget to run drip lines to planters in lieu of watering them by hand.

Installing Microspray Drip Irrigation

Using step three above, instead of attaching emitters to the end of the drip distribution tubing, you can attach a microspray sprinkler. You can attach a variety of microspray heads that may spray 90°, 180°, 360° and more.

These are more effective typically in areas that are dense with plants or ground cover.

The Importance of a Pressure Regulator and Filter

Older drip irrigation systems and those installed by professionals looking to cut cost and effort may not have pressure regulators. Household water pressure is usually around 40 to 60 psi where as a drip irrigation system functions better at around 20 to 30 psi. Water that enters your drip system comes from your house and without a pressure regulator, drip emitters and hoses can blow off of the tubing.

There other must-have is a filter to catch sand and other particles before they reach your thirsty plants. And, don’t fret if there’s a path or paver walkway prohibiting you from extending drip irrigation into a new space. There are ways to safely bore a hole underneath. You may want to consult a gardener to address these slightly more complicated issues.

Your Turn…

Do you fix your own drip irrigation or wait for your gardener to do it?

Photo credit: istockphoto, Flickr/plong and Flickr/USDAgov, Creative Commons 2.0

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