HOMEGROWN Life: How to Install Drip Irrigation

| 6/3/2013 1:15:00 PM

Tags: drip irrigation, urban farming, FarmAid and Homegrown.org,

irrigation layoutPart of my day job description includes putting together construction documents on how to install drip irrigation. Usually these documents are for huge sites with extensive systems involving thousands of feet of piping, dozens of valves, and sometimes multiple controllers.

You’re probably scratching your head trying to make sense of what you just read. That’s OK because the typical home garden is not going to require all of this fancy talk, but it will require a few necessary items to work well.

Click here for a larger version of the image at left.

Choosing Your System

I like to set my irrigation system and forget it, meaning I really don’t want to think about watering that much. Of course, having a garden that takes several hours to water every other day is exactly the reason I don’t want to think about it. But even with smaller gardens, you might want to consider drip irrigation. Sometimes life gets busy, and you might not be able to water for a few days. If you had automatic irrigation, you wouldn’t have to worry about losing the garden you had spent months nurturing.

I’m also of the mind that you should have a system even if you don’t need it. This was highlighted last summer with the severe drought in the Midwest. My mom, who lives in Ohio, depends on summer rains to water her garden, but last year the rains never came. The heat did, though. She had to spend large amounts of her time  watering by hand just to keep everything alive. When you don’t need automatic irrigation, you can just turn it off. But when you do need it, it’s nice to be able to turn it back on and let it do its thing.

With so many different types of irrigation, how in the world do you choose one? My first word of advice is to put down the preassembled garden drip irrigation kit at the big box store. Every garden site is unique, and those kits do very little to accommodate even the average one. Second, you’ll need to figure out if you want drip irrigation or overhead irrigation. (I won’t be covering the latter here; more on my preference for drip below.)

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