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!
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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”).
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.
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.
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.
- Simple, Three Ingredient, Rhubarb Sauce
- Salmon with Capers Appetizer or Sandwich Spread
This year is going to be my first garden ever. I have been reading up stuff on how to get it started, what to plant and when. I am still looking for tips. This would be a great start to my garden.
Oh how exciting–gardening is a fun and productive hobby. Of course most people start with sprinklers which are the easiest to set up and the easiest to move if you change your mind. Enjoy!
This year I have gone to raised beds, no more invasive weeds!!
My flowers were all eaten by bugs this spring, so I will try to find something resistant to them to plant.
I would love to plant some cucumbers and some tomatoes.
We are cleaning out and replanting beds that have become overgrown.
We are building on our butterfly garden.
I subscribe to email
I have a small garden this year.
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My plans this summer are to have the most mighty harvest in my garden that I have ever experienced before, bar none.
thanks for chance to win
Replacing some of the older flowers with newer flowers. I love flowers especially sunflowers.
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My granddaughter and i are attempting our first garden. Want to do tomatoes, lettuce and maybe watermelons.
We just moved to a new house and this is our first year having a vegetable garden which is so exciting.
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.
I’m a beginner but I’ve planted tomatoes and flowers!
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!
I think I may be already subscribed with a different email address…but I subscribed again just in case. Lol. Thank you
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.
I subscribed to the email list
My summer plans are to help get my tomatoes & cucumbers to grow quicker and bigger
I subscribed! Keeping my fingers crossed!
My summer time goal for my garden is to improve quality of my tomato and zucchini plants!
I’m planting some veggies.
I am an email subscriber.
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.
Attempting rhubarb this summer!
More veggies planted.
I already subscribe 🙂
I’ve planted a lot of flowers for our pollinators, thanks for the chance!
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.
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My gardening plans this summer are to try to keep my lawn weed free and hopefully plant some pretty flowers!
Lots of vegetables and fruit this summer.
I want to grow cherry tomatoes, blueberry plants, and cucumbers this year. Just start out small!
I am already signed up for email following.
We’re planning to landscape our backyard and we just got done setting one up in the front yard.
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 🙂
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I’m really hoping for big delicious tomatoes
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We planted cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, beans and okra. And we already need water.
I’m doing some landscaping along my fence – solar lights and some flowers.
We’ve got the veggie garden going in the back and I’m hoping to get some landscaping done in the front this summer.
My goal this year is to start a vegetable garden.
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.
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.
We finally planted after mother’s day.
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Can’t wait for more info.
I have a flower garden and love to watch the flowers bloom at different times of the year.
I have a veggie garden all planted and it is coming up nicely.
My plans are to let my husband do the yard work and I invite the guests for BBQ
My garden is in full swing! Veggies are loving the heat, and the rest of my yard is flowers and foliage, nothing else.
Just planting Tomato and Pepper plants
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!!
We just bought a new house and are hoping to line the back of our property in a garden but need a hose and other things before it can be done.
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!
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.
We are making a raised veggie garden!
Our South-facing hill is struggling to get enough water in our drought prone town. My poor little Confederate Jasmine needs a drink!
I’m growing herbs and tomatoes this year.
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).
My plans are to transplant my onions and herbs to a planter we’re currently building
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.
Trying to grow some grass. I also am starting veggie garden.
I subscribe to your newsletter.
My gardening plans this summer is to start my first herb garden and plant some wild flowers.
I’m so busy I’ve just been keeping up with the rhubarb and herbs!
I’m trying to put together a nice container garden with veggies for my kids to snack on.
i plan on have a nice garden this year. i want to have some food that i grow myself.
I plan on putting in a raised garden bed this summer.
My kiddos and I are planning a fairy garden and we want to have all sorts of plantss growing in the fairy “world”.
Here in Texas we grow tomatoes and jalapenos peppers every Summer.
Excellent information, Inger- you are leaps and bounds ahead of my garden :p
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
My garden plans are coming along.. i plan to plant zucchini and squash this weekend! Already go the tomatoes and peas in!
My plans this summer are to discover the best places to plant veggies at our new home. Great post, thanks for the amazing giveaway!
No summer gardening this year, just moved to AZ., but I will be gardening all year long!
I have planted tomatoes and okra. I also have a few pumpkin vines.
So far, we planted zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant. We plan on expanding the garden more as the summer goes on.
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!
My gardening plans are to weed my garden and plant new flowers, bushes, etc.
I’m growing Purple People Eater’s for the 5th year in a row. They are so lovely.
i became a subscriber to your blog. cant wait to receive more info!
We planted green beans, 3 variety of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs in our garden this year!
Corn, tomatoes, and snap beans. Plus asparagus as always
We have flowers, tomatoes, pepper, pumpkins, corn, strawberries, herbs, lettuce, etc. growing.
I definitely need to work on my grass and also plant more veggies 🙂
I’m planning on doing a veggie and herb garden for the first time this summer!
We planted corn and salsa ingredients!
I’m going to plant a small herb garden, thank you so much!
I have started a small herb garden.
This year I am growing tomatoes and bell peppers. I wanted to do more but I have been so busy at work.
I want to make a veggie garden.
I subscribe to your email.
My gardening plans is to make a raised vegetable garden.
We’ve got tons of veggies, particularly tomatoes, that are going to need a lot of watering!
I’m planting some citrus trees.
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.
We started our first vegetable garden, I am so excited. The first thing we planted was cherry tomatoes.
I’d love to plant a garden but so far we’ve only planted some Blackberry bushes.
My vegetable garden is already up and now working on my rose garden
Our grapes, melons, tomatoes, peppers, beans and other vegi plans will love this soaking intention!
In our garden we are growing strawberries, corn, tomatos, asparagus, peppers, peas, pumpkins, lettuce and cucumbers.
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!
what a majorly informative post! we discovered soaker hoses last year and will never look back. 🙂
Good luck with your newly planted crops. When we planted our summer garden in Maine, we were like you and waited until Memorial Day to make such there were no more frosts.