How to Install Drip Irrigation
Create an automatic watering system that makes sure lawn plants get their fill.
In most parts of the country, trying to keep yards watered throughout the summer requires an open tap like you haven't seen since your last fraternity kegger. Which isn't so great if you live in a conservation-conscious area that restricts sprinkler use. If the best defense is a good offense, the way to beat the heat is with micro irrigation. This system of drip tubing and tiny sprayers delivers aqua right at the base of plants.
You don't need a sophisticated irrigation network to supply micro irrigation—a spigot for a hose will do. Setting up a system to feed a backyard's worth of plant beds, shrubs, and trees takes just a few minutes of designing and a couple of hours of connecting the various components. Then before you can pop open a cold one and admire your handiwork, your garden will be thanking you for its own liquid refreshment.
Drip Irrigation Overview
Most of micro irrigation is drip tubing, ¼-inch or ½-inch hose fitted with tiny plastic nubs, called emitters, that allow water to drip out at a regulated pace without clogging. The tubing snakes around and among plants and trees to get water into the soil at the roots. You can buy that tubing either prepunched, with emitters factory-installed under the surface every 18 inches, or unperforated, which requires you to punch the holes and attach the emitters to the outside of the tubing yourself. Unperforated tubing can be used to customize a system to an unusual layout or to connect sections of tubing where you don't need water. Some companies also sell soaker hose, laser-perforated rubber that weeps water into the soil without emitters.
All manufacturers have accessories that are specialized for different types of plants—sprays for ground cover, foggers for hanging containers, and single emitters for reaching plants off the grid. But few offer a kit with everything included. You will need to draw a plan of your garden — because micro irrigation requires so much tubing, it is not appropriate for lawns—and map out a configuration of the tubing and accessories, then buy some parts separately. Or contact the drip kit's manufacturer; many will take your garden plans and provide you with an efficient design and materials list free of charge.