Irrigation Tips from MOTHER EARTH NEWS

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Photo by Pixabay/MikesPhotos
Use a hose reel to store hoses when not it use and expand lifetimes.

Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems provide a host of benefits for your plants and for your wallet. By delivering water just where it’s needed, when it’s needed, you can use your water resources more effectively while growing beautiful, vibrant plants.

Follow these tips to get the most out of your watering system:

Cover with mulch. To retain moisture and protect your soaker hoses from deterioration due to prolonged sun exposure, cover your soaker hoses with approximately 2 inches of mulch. To learn even more about the benefits of mulch, see Myth 3 in “5 Garden Myths.”

Protect from clogs. Use a 150-mesh filter to remove small particles that can clog your soaker hose or drip irrigation system. If you have hard water, use a calcium filter to reduce mineral buildup.

Properly space emitters. For row crops, spacing emitters 1 foot apart along the drip hose is usually sufficient. Generally, one drip hose can adequately water two rows of smaller crops or one row of larger crops.

Keep it level. If planting on a hill, orient your garden beds so they’re level and run horizontal to the slope. If it isn’t possible to orient your planting area and irrigation so they’re level, you can employ the help of diaphragm-type pressure-compensating emitters. These types of emitters water more uniformly on slopes than standard emitters by compensating for the differences of water pressure in a hose running up or down a hill.

Account for elevation. If your water source is much higher in elevation than where you intend to water, you may need to install check valves on the supply lines to maintain a safe pressure and keep your hoses from bursting.

Practice proper storage. At the end of your growing season, carefully remove and thoroughly clean, flush, and repair your hoses. Let the hoses dry; couple or cap the ends to keep dirt and insects, such as spiders and mud daubers, out of the hose; and then store the hose away from sunlight to protect it from ultraviolet radiation.

Now that you’re armed with information to care for and maintain your watering system for seasons to come, check out how you can build a watering system that incorporates both soaker hoses and drip irrigation into its design in the article “How to Build a Drip Irrigation System.”