Install a Water Timer and Simple Drip Irrigation System
Stop spending your time hand watering and install a water timer and simple drip irrigation system. Don’t become a slave to your garden and waste hours and hours of your summer hand watering.
Here are 5 reasons to install a water timer and simple drip irrigation system:
- It will save you time.
- A drip system can deliver water more effectively directly to your plant’s root zone.
- Set the timer to come on early in the morning when it is cool with no wind. Even early bird gardeners might not always be up that early!
- A drip system can deliver a more precise amount of water, and it will be more consistent than hand watering.
- You can go on vacation
I have several sections of garden that do not have an automatic drip irrigation system set up. I do not want to install a permanent irrigation timer for my in-ground garden area (yet) so I am going to install a hose end water timer and simple drip system.
I purchased an Orbit 56233D 3-Outlet Digital Watering Timer. I was getting a little concerned when I read the reviews on Amazon because there were a number of negative reviews saying it leaked or ruptured. However, most of the reviews were positive and it received 4 out of 5 stars overall. I am hoping to get 4 plus years of service out of this water timer.
I was originally going to use soaker hose for my garden area. I had quite a bit of soaker hose laying around already so I figured it would make sense to put it to use.
Frustration hit when I realized that the soaker hoses I had were several different sizes and none seemed to go onto the fittings I had. I did manage to jam the soaker hose onto the fittings, but a couple days later the soaker hose had split. This was not going to work!
My new plan was to buy several rolls of 1/4 inch drip line with 1/2 gallon per hour emitters every 6 inches, like this Toro 53640 Blue Stripe Drip 1/4-Inch Tubing Sprinkler with Emitters, 100-Feet.
This drip line will be much more precise and durable than the soaker hose. You can also buy 1/4 inch drip line with 9, 12, or 24 inch spacing. I am using this drip line in a garden area with a variety of vegetables. I chose to use the 6 inch spacing.
Eight Steps to Install a Water Timer and
Simple Drip Irrigation System
Step 1: Set up the water timer
I placed the water timer a few feet away from my water faucet. In this way I can still use the faucet, and I am less likely to accidentally damage the water timer by pulling on the hose.
This is a video I made for you on setting up the Orbit two station digital water timer.
Step 2: Filter
Install a filter such as this Orbit 67736 3/4-Inch FHT by MHT Drip Filter so your emitters or drippers don’t become clogged.
Step 3: Reduce Pressure
Make sure to put in a pressure reducer such as Rain Bird HT07525PSI – 25 PSI Drip Regulator 3/4″ FHT. Most household water systems are at 40-80 pounds of pressure, but you would need the pressure for your drip system at about 25 pounds of pressure.
Step 4: Prevent Backflow
Install a back flow protection device such as this Hose Thread Backflow Preventer to protect your household drinking water. This device will prevent the possibility of water from your drip system being sucked back into your drinking water if there is a pressure drop up in the water system. I already have a backflow prevention device that isolates all of my irrigation water from my drinking water, so I did not install an additional one at my hose end water timer.
Step 5: Plan Your System
Keep in mind that for each 1/4 inch branch line with 1/2 gallon per hour emitters, you can only run:
up to about 19 feet of 1/4 inch drip line with emitters at 6 inch spacing
up to about 25 feet of 1/4 inch drip line with emitters at 9 inch spacing
up to about 34 feet of 1/4 inch drip line with emitters at 12 inch spacing
Below is a rough sketch of a small garden layout using 1/4 inch drip line at 6″ spacing.
Step 6: Run Supply Lines
You can use a hose thread (not pipe thread) connector like this Raindrip R320CT 3/4-Inch Hose Thread Swivel by 1/2-Inch Compression Adapter to attach your line(s) directly to your hose end water timer. The end of the hose can be bent back using a Rain Bird EC50-2PK – 1/2″ End Closure 2-Pack or capped off with a Rain Drip R303C Compression Hose End Plug with Cap like this. You can buy the 1/2 inch blank supply lines in 100′ rolls like this Rain Bird T63-100 – 1/2″ Blank Tubing 100′ Roll. You can also buy 1/4″ blank tubing Toro 53639 Blue Stripe Drip 1/4-Inch Tubing Sprinkler, 100-Feet to run from your 1/2″ supply line to your drip line. Or you might want to use 1/4″ blank tubing to bridge a walkway or go up to a container planting.
Step 7: Install Drip Lines
Use a punch like this Deluxe Hole Punch for 1/4″ Barbed Fittings & Drippers – Drip Irrigation or a nicer one like this Raindrip 63100UB Professional Hole Punch, Loose
to make a hole in the 1/2 poly supply line. Use a 1/4″ straight barbed connector Raindrip 312010B Barbed Connectors, 1/4-Inch, 10 Per Bag to hook up your 1/4 inch drip line. I chose to put a 1/4″ shut off valve like these Raindrip INC 612010B Barbed Valve 1/4″ – 10/PK on each of my drip lines. That way, as I am planting or harvesting my garden each season, I will be able to water only the planted areas. Cap off the end of each 1/4 inch drip line with a goof plug like these Rain Bird TP2510PK – 1/4″ Closure “Goof Plugs” 10-Pack. You may want to use a barbed tee to make a circular drip line for to water a mound of pumpkins or to go around a tree or bush.
Step 8: Test For Leaks and Adjust
Check your whole system for leaks and make sure that all the drip lines are dripping. Test the timer and play around with the length of time it takes to adequately water your garden. You will need to adjust the duration to match your soil, weather, mulch and type of vegetables. A good starting point would be 1 hour every three days assuming the weather is warm and dry.
I will still occasionally hand water to soak areas not covered by the drip lines. Hand watering can also be a great time to do a garden inspection looking for beneficial insects and garden pests.
How much will this all cost?
I included the Amazon product links in this post for the images, pricing, and for your convenience if you wish to purchase through Amazon. When I checked each product’s current Amazon price (the pop-ups don’t always reflect the current price) the grand total came to about $175 (prices will change). I tried to find the best price and/or Amazon Prime qualified products.
The drip lines can be easily repaired or expanded especially if you have a drip system repair kit. Click here to see my blog post on creating a drip system repair kit.
More drip Irrigation Resources:
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