Garden Irrigation 101 

Memorial Day in Wisconsin marks a gardening milestone.  It is the first date considered safe for planting cold-sensitive flowers and vegetables.  Once it arrives, it’s full speed ahead!  

Garden work

Let’s garden!

But any experienced gardener will tell you there is an important consideration that hits right after you plant.  You’ll need some garden irrigation (or good sneakers and big buckets) to keep your transplant babies watered.  

Default Irrigation: Sprinklers

Now the default way to water an urban/suburban garden is the classic lawn sprinkler.  It’s inexpensive, simple to understand, covers a large area (great for lawns) and is easy to move. 

Prepping garden irrigation

Prepping garden irrigation

But there are some downsides to sprinklers.  They send the water up into the air where a lot is lost to evaporation.  Even in water-plentiful areas like the Great Lakes, this can be expensive.  The other big problem is that water from sprinklers splashes through and sits on foliage where it can promote disease.  If you are trying to garden organically, you don’t want to do anything to compromise your plant health!

Sprinkler Alternatives

Happily, there are devices that reduce this problem: soaker hoses and drip irrigation.  A soaker hose is a porous hose that drips water along its length.  These are perfect for getting water directly to the base of a plant and work well along a garden row or laid in a spiral under a tree canopy (tree roots cover that whole area out to the drip line, not just by the trunk).  

Soaker Hose for Garden Irrigation

Soaker Hose

And a lesser known fact is that you can configure soaker hoses, cutting and connecting pieces to perfectly fit your garden configuration, like in the picture below.  

A third option is drip irrigation.  This consists of a long line of non-porous hosing that you puncture (and add an “emitter” to) where you want water to flow out.  It works well for widely spaced plantings—and you can even attach lengths of soaker hose to it for areas that would benefit from more coverage. 

Cutting and configuring

You can see a video showing some of this here.  

Right now, we are working on getting a backyard orchard going and just added nine young trees and additional raspberries.  So I was very happy to get a soaker hose kit from Flexon (products available from Lowes, etc).  It included 100 feet of soaker hose plus a variety of connectors and end pieces.

This kit can be turned into a basic soaker hose by putting on a screw hose attachment and an end cap–or it can be turned into a custom irrigation system.  Since we are covering a lot of square feet (with as much as 12-foot tree spacing), we chose the latter and also used a drip system in the mix.  

Hose with connectors, end caps, etc.

Hose with connectors, end caps, etc.

Using these we were able to do things like connect a length of Flexon soaker hose from long drip line (see below), running it the length of our raspberries, as well as reach trees way out in the “back 40” (okay “back 3 ½”).   

Soaker hose for raspberry garden irrigation

Raspberries enjoying their new Flexon soakr hose!

When we turned the faucet on it was exciting to see the water coming out just where it was supposed to!  All while happily minimizing water loss and providing less water to the weeds.

I know it will be a number of years before we get fruit, but I’m getting psyched for some good eating.  The areas we established a number of years back (pears, raspberries and mulberries) are treating us well and I can’t wait for more. 

Other considerations

There are just a few more considerations for your garden irrigation system.  If your water pressure is high, you will need to use a pressure regulator to restrict the flow.  Otherwise the pressure can cause a hose to bulge and break or spring leaks.  In our case, the system is on a low pressure well (we need a special shower head just to get a good shower), so we skipped this step for now, though we’ll go back and install it if we have any problems. 

Second, the zoning in some areas requires a backflow preventer, to keep dirty water from being sucked back into your plumbing system.  Even where not required, it is a good idea—who wants dirty water flowing into their house.  In our case, our irrigation system is attached to a timer that includes a backflow preventer, so we are covered.

The final component to consider is a timer.  If you are forgetful, overly busy (who isn’t overly busy!) or travel a lot, this can turn your water off and on for you.  Just be aware that if both your timer and hose bibb (outside faucet) have backflow preventer, they effectively cancel each other out and you may want to change out your basic hose bibb backflow device for a more specialized piece of equipment.  

The Giveaway

Are you ready to take your garden irrigation to the next level?  Then consider this giveaway for the soaker kit pictured above, a 24.78 value, sponsored by Flexon.  It is open to mailing addresses in the US and closes at midnight CDT on June 17.  To enter, leave a comment below telling me what your gardening plans are this summer. For a second entry, sign up for Art of Natural Living emails (below my picture) and leave me a second comment, letting me know that you did (or that you already subscribe). The winner will be picked randomly, contacted by email and have 24 hours to get back to me or a new winner will be chosen.  

114 thoughts on “Garden Irrigation 101 

  1. Judy Perkins

    My goal this summer is to upgrade the soaker hose irrigation “system” we use at our vacation home in Door County. We have various beds of (bee friendly) flowers that we need to keep watered. Your soaker hose kit sounds like just the ticket!

  2. Ann Fantom

    In our garden we are growing strawberries, corn, tomatos, asparagus, peppers, peas, pumpkins, lettuce and cucumbers.

  3. Tamra H

    My husband and I are expanding our garden this year, and still need to plant some of our seedlings! But we’re growing over 40 varieties of edible plants in 2018.

  4. Austin Baroudi

    I’m actually a first timer this year! My daughter and I are just trying to make a nice little garden. Thanks so much for the chance!

  5. Susan B

    My plans this summer are to discover the best places to plant veggies at our new home. Great post, thanks for the amazing giveaway!

  6. Allyson Tice

    My garden plans are coming along.. i plan to plant zucchini and squash this weekend! Already go the tomatoes and peas in!

  7. Kelly McGrew

    I am going to keep it to herbs this summer, because I use them like crazy. My sister has the whole thing going, with corn, tomatoes, beans, peppers, lettuce, squash, etc

  8. Tamara Regan

    My kiddos and I are planning a fairy garden and we want to have all sorts of plantss growing in the fairy “world”.

  9. Michele Pineda

    my plans are doing some container gardening of tomatoes, potatoes, and then I would like to try some cilantro, onion, watermelon and cucumbers as well.

  10. Leslie

    I have my veggie garden started and the flowers are coming up. I still have to figure out where I can squeeze another garden plot in my back yard. So I guess my summer will consist of pulling weeds and planning my future garden(s).

  11. laura bell

    Our South-facing hill is struggling to get enough water in our drought prone town. My poor little Confederate Jasmine needs a drink!

  12. Elizabeth

    This summer I started three raised beds of vegetables. I have never grown any veggies at all before so it’s totally new territory. We have cucumbers, corn, carrots, onion, peas, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, turnips, mint, cilantro, basil and dill. Probably too much for a first timer!! Ah well.

  13. Tiffany Merritt

    We moved into a new (to us) house with an ENORMOUS landscaped yard with thousands of plants (and I should add that we have very, very little experience with yards). So there are too many projects to list, but one is to get the raised garden beds ready for some planting so we can have some delicious fall crops!

  14. Jessica Davis

    I unfortunately couldn’t do a garden last year due to my mother’s health but this year we got a good veggie garden started! My mother loves gardening just as much as I do must be where I get my green thumb from!!! Lol but I’ve heard alot about the soaker hose but never used before!!

  15. Marija

    My garden is in full swing! Veggies are loving the heat, and the rest of my yard is flowers and foliage, nothing else.

  16. Robert Ward

    This summer I plan on working more on my raised beds and my garden in my back yard. I have raspberries growing in my raised beds and I am working on a better way to water them. Soaker hoses would be a great way to water these beds without wasting water by watering overhead. I am keeping my garden growing and managing the weeds until I can harvest the fruit and vegetables this fall.

  17. Laurie Emerson

    So far our cucumbers, tomatoes and some carrots are coming up. We also have planted some watermelons, lettuce, onions, beans and pumpkin. I also have a big flower garden with so many different kinds of flowers.

  18. Holly S.

    We’ve got the veggie garden going in the back and I’m hoping to get some landscaping done in the front this summer.

  19. Amy Greenwood

    My gardening plans this summer are to plant some tomatoes, green peppers and add some flowers to the back and side yards. Should be fun 🙂

  20. Jennifer Cervantes

    My garden is really starting to produce, my zucchini really is overflowing this year. We plan on installing a greenhouse next year so we can garden year round summer vegetables.

  21. Hesper Fry

    My gardening plans are to work on getting our trees going this summer in our yard. We planted 3-4 new ones and want to make sure they thrive. I also would love to have a tomato plant as well.

  22. Gina

    Not a lot of variety being done this year…just multiple varieties of tomatoes as we eat tons, even our shelties go crazy for tomoatoes and I plant cherry tomatoes as a couple of them like picking them themselves…. also zucchini as it’s my all time favorite vegetable. And I have a handful of bell pepper plants planted…. the soaker hose would be reallt handy for the tomatoes as I’m out twice a day watering them… thank you so much for the chance to win.

  23. Gina

    I think I may be already subscribed with a different email address…but I subscribed again just in case. Lol. Thank you

  24. Stephanie

    We have planted some cucumbers and are hoping to be able to make our own pickles this year. Although we have gotten a lot of rain lately, it is so hot out that making sure everything is getting enough water at times has been a challenge. Thanks for the chance to win!

  25. Laurie Steiner

    We already have our garden in here in NJ, tomatoes, cukes, lettuce and peppers…we’ve already enjoyed our strawberries and look forward to blackberries soon.

  26. Jerry Marquardt

    My plans this summer are to have the most mighty harvest in my garden that I have ever experienced before, bar none.

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