As a long-time fan of drip irrigation (short-term pain for long-term gain!) and since I’m getting ready to create a new garden in a new home, it’s time to review what’s available. I do not enjoy hand-watering any outdoor plants. If I’m planting anything outdoors but cactus, it gets hooked up to an automatic drip irrigation system. With a timer.
The benefits of drip irrigation vs hand watering are many. For water conservation reasons, I’m not going to talk about sprinklers or sprinkling anything. Living in the southwest, I’ve come to consider sprinkling a serious waste. If you disagree and you live in an area with abundant water, by all means – sprinkle. This isn’t your post.
Back to the benefits. Number one in my book is hands-off watering. I don’t have to think about when to squeeze watering into my day or find someone who can water when we’re away. With occasional soil monitoring and adjustments of the timer, I am not bound to the garden at all. In my mind, a garden is to be enjoyed, and that means freedom from having to do something to it every day – unless I want to.
A close number two reason for installing drip irrigation is watering where it’s needed – at the root level. No waste.
Drip irrigation can be as fancy or as simple as you want. The easiest drip irrigation systems are soda bottles or milk jugs with holes drilled into them buried into the ground. Keep the cap to prevent dirt from filling it up. The simplicity of this system makes it possible for anyone to install, but it still requires a fill now and then. HOWEVER, this is also a good way to begin – it can be gradually upgraded to an automatic system by connecting tubes to the top of the caps that are then connected to a main hose and filled with that. Genius!
Fancier drip irrigation systems can be purchased at home improvement stores. You’ll also find components to upgrade a buried bottle system there.