June is off to a great start here in Seattle, with sunny, high 70s weather this week. It hasn’t rained all week! What that also means though, is that it is time to start thinking about making sure my plants are getting enough water.
There are a few routes one can go when watering their plants; hand watering, soaker hoses, upside down bottles filled with water (good for containers), etc.. I considered all of these when I first started gardening and even tried a few. I now know that I suck at hand-watering, because I always forget to do it. With a large garden like I have now, it’s not really practical either, because it takes way too long. Plus, plants like to be watered at the roots, so as not to get the leaves wet. I was willing to spend a little extra time and money on the front end, if it would make it easier for me in the long run, so I decided to go with a drip irrigation system.
After doing some research online I realized that I didn’t want a system that had to be buried. It would have been more expensive and if anything froze or cracked it would be underground and harder to find and repair.
I found an affordable battery operated system (pictured above), made by Orbit, that would allow me to program 4 zones to be watered. It only needed to be hooked up to the faucet. Not pretty I know, but it did the trick and only just recently crapped out (just in time for the nice weather).
I liked the my original system and it worked well for me for 6 years. I always put the timer and valves in the shed for the winter, so they wouldn’t freeze, and I think that helped it last longer. When I went to replace it, a newer version of the Orbit Complete Yard Watering Kit is now available and it’s even better! Oh and before I get much further, this is not a sponsored post (I wish). This really is a product I use and love. I am an Amazon associate though, so if you do decide to buy any of this stuff, and use my links, I get a small percentage of the sale.
The redesign seems even sturdier and I already love it. The timer is even easier to set and the valves line up in a straight row which looks so much neater. The battery compartment is now on the side, instead of on top which will help keep water out, which is why I think my first one finally died.
I have four raised beds in my garden and each one of them is a “zone”. The timer has four valves that each control a zone. I can set the timer to water at a certain time on certain days. For example, right now it is set to water every other day starting at 6am. It will then start with the first zone and water for whatever amount of time it is set for, before moving on to the next zone. I currently have each zone set to water for 60 minutes each. That may sound like a long time, but the water is only coming out at 4 gallons per hour through the drip emitter tubing, so it comes out slowly. The speed of the water is based on the flag dripper and I use 4 GPH flag drippers.
The brown tubing and the black tubing are the same, just different colors. I think the brown tubing came with a starter kit and the black tubing I got later. Technically you could just use one hose straight from the valve, but I find it is nice to have two sections; the 1/2″ black tubing that comes from the valve and the 1/2″ brown tubing (which I call the mainline) that the flag drippers and 1/4″ emitter tubing come off of. It is useful when it comes time to store the tubing over the Winter and for when a section needs to be replaced. I am constantly moving the 1/4″ emitter tubing depending on what I am planting (you can replug holes not in use and make new ones) so the mainline gets pretty beat up after a while. I have yet to replace any of the mainlines and I have been using them for years, but some of them are a bit leaky now.
Like I said at the beginning, this can be a bit of an investment, depending on how far you go with it. I have bought parts and expanded little by little, year by year, as my garden has expanded, so it never had to hit my pocket-book all at once. For me it’s been totally worth it.
If you are thinking of trying this, I would suggest going with a starter kit first. There are some very affordable ones out there, that come with everything you need. If you want to expand on that or want to jump in and start with your own parts, here is a list of the parts I use:
1. Orbit Complete Yard Watering Kit
2. Orbit Extra Valve for Complete Watering Kit
3. 1/2 inch hose end clamp
4. 4 GPH flag dripper
5. 1/4 inch emitter tubing
6. 1/2 inch adapter
7. 1/2″ end cap
8. 1/2 inch tubing
9. 1/4 inch end plug
10. hole punch tool
11. 1/2 inch loop stake
12. 1/4 inch loop stake
If anyone tries this for the first time, let me know how it goes for you. If you already have a drip irrigation system set up, tell me about it. I would also love to hear any other watering tips you have. I still have some areas that aren’t on the drip system (like my fig tree, my asparagus patch and my herb garden) and they tend to suffer, so I could use some help in those areas!