What type of watering system should you use?

Published December 14, 2012 by blmercier91

It’s really hard to figure out when you’ve started a garden. It might even be harder than figuring out what to plant. How should you water your precious plants once they’re in the ground? There are several factors that go into this, such as how much time and effort you want to put into your garden, how much water your plants will need, and how much rain your area gets on average.

Option 1: High maintenance, any size, no set up, moderate control
If you are someone who wants to be really, really involved in your garden, and spend a LOT of time doing upkeep on it, then a simple hose with a nozzle is for you. It’s as easy as it sounds: take a hose with a sprayer, and stand outside and water your plants for 20 minutes (note: each plant needs different amounts of water, so time varies, experiment!). This can work for any size garden, in any environment. A plus is that when it does rain, it’s really easy to compensate, you just don’t go outside with your hose.

Option 2: Lower maintenance, small garden, easy set up, minimal control
If standing outside with a hose doesn’t appeal to you, then a soaker hose may be for you. All you do is hook one end up to a hose, and lay it out where you need it to water, and turn on the water when you want the plants to get watered. This is really easy to set up, taking less than 5 minutes, but a down side is that water comes out of the entire hose, so even if there’s an area you don’t want watered, such as a pathway or gap, it will get watered too. I also feel that soaker hoses are somewhat wasteful, because the water also comes out of the top of the hose and evaporates. Not all the water gets used efficiently. You also have less control over what plant gets how much water, as there are no ‘flags’ (which we’ll discuss later), everything gets the same amount. This is the option with the fastest set up, and moderate maintenance. A picture is below.

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Option 3: Hardest set up, least maintenance, any size, most control
If you’re like me, and you don’t mind spending extra time setting up, but you want minimal maintenance, this last option is for you. It involves drip hoses (which are different from soaker hoses in that water only comes out of the holes and some even allow you to make your own holes- no waste!) in two sizes (usually 1/2″ and 1/4″), flags, and hoses. I know I didn’t mention costs with the other two, because I don’t know rough prices for them, but to buy everything you need for this set up is about $20-$40. You can use this with any size garden because you can cut the hoses to the length you want. You take the 3-in-1 faucet adapter (it comes in the box!), and attach that to your spigot, and then attach the 1/2″ tubing to the other side. If you need more reach, attach your hose to the spigot, stretch it to where you want it, then attach the adapter and then the 1/2″ tubing as previously discussed. You can make the hose stay where you want with the stakes that come with it. This set up also comes with a hole punch tool. The 1/2″ tubing has no holes in it, because YOU decide where the holes need to be. Punch a hole where you want the smaller hose to go, put a flag in the hole, and attach the 1/4″ tubing to the other side of the flag. You can then cut the small tubing to the length you want, put an end plug on, and stake it down into place. At the end of the large hose, also put an end cap. The flags allow you to control how much water each row of plants gets. Flags (and everything else you need for this set up), comes in a box, but you can also buy each piece individually. Back to flags! They control how many gallons per hour (GPH), each row gets, and come in ranges from 1/2 GPH to 5 GPH. With this set up, if there’s a pathway you don’t want to get watered, it’s ok, because there are no pre made holes and therefor no water gets wasted.

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