By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
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
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.