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By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner Golden Gecko

Most of us have heard of drip irrigation, but not everyone understands how it works. You may have heard that drip irrigation can save time in the garden watering, that drip irrigation will help save water, and that it is an easy way to get the water where you want it. All these statements are true. During the hot days of summer plants often need water when we would rather not be outside. Rather than haul the garden hose from one place to another drip irrigation can water many plants all at the same time, and if you hook it to a simple hose bib timer you won’t even have to go outside. The plants will be watered regularly, while you do other things.

Because drip irrigation only puts water right where the plants roots are, we don’t have wasted water irrigating non planted areas. No water is wasted on non-growth areas, and the root zone is maintained at its ideal moisture level, combining the proper balance of water and air for a very efficient irrigation system. Maintaining an optimum moisture level in the soil at all times results in less water lost to the sun and the wind.

The ease of putting together drip systems makes it attractive to many gardeners. You don’t need a lot of tools to put together a system.. Usually prunning shears, for cutting the tubing, and a punch tool, for attaching emmitters, is all you need. You don’t need to glue the parts together. Generally the tubing sits on top of the ground, so it not necessary to dig trenches.

You typically start the drip system from garden faucet or hose. There is a special connector with threads on one side for the faucet and a slip connector on the other side for the drip tube. The drip tube is the big tube, 1/2” usually. That is caped off at the end. From the drip tube different type of emitters or ‘spaghetti tubing', are inserted with a special punch tool. Water drips out of the emitters, wetting only a small portion of the surface, helping to reduce summer weeds. Under the surface, water is saturating the root zone, where the plant needs it.

While drippers are the most popular way to run a drip system, you can also attach micr-sprinklers, that will put water over a larger area. The micro-sprinklers are great for many groundcovers, and flower beds. Places where we need to wet a larger surface area. Plants with different water needs may need their own watering zones. For example, orchards that get watered weekly will need to have different zones than a garden that gets watered daily. Plants that are drought tolerant will need to be watered differently than plants requiring a lot of water.

Drip systems are not just for plants in the ground. You can attach a drip system to water all those containers on your deck or patio. You can attach the main line to railings or posts, and run spaghetti tubing to the different containers. Hook a timer to the line and now you can go on vacation, and not worry about whether your neighbor will remember to water your plants.

Be sure to talk to the people selling the drip system. You want to know if you will be able to get all information you need to complete the project. You also want to stick to one type or brand of drip irrigation. Not all ½ inch tubing is the same. Some are measured on the inside of the tube, while others are measured on the outside. If you buy your tubing at one place, and your connectors at another, they may not fit together. Find a good system, and stick to it.

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