Irrigation Systems for your Home Garden
Any gardener will tell you that water is the most important thing for your garden.
Too little will make your prized plants dry out to a crisp, and too much can rot your plants and turn your backyard into a swamp.
The longer we spend in our gardens, the more we figure out how much water each plant will need and the best times to do so.
But sometimes, getting out there with a hose or watering can can be tricky, and things can go pear shaped pretty quickly if you miss a watering.
Coming into Spring and Summer, the need for watering is increasing, and it’s important our gardens get enough moisture to shake them out of the winter haze and build their resilience for the hot summer.
This is where an irrigation system comes into its own.
What is garden irrigation
A well designed irrigation systems is set up in a way that allows you to control the frequency and amount of water that your garden gets, all at the same time.
Rather than spending hours watering every plant individually with a hose, you can deliver the same amount of water to every corner of the garden simultaneously in a fraction of the time.
An irrigation system can be turned on with a simple flick of a switch or turn of a tap handle, or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, by an automated system that you can set and forget, saving you precious time, whilst keeping your garden happy and healthy.
The irrigation umbrella is quite broad and can include a lot of various products and techniques to deliver water to the target location.
The following are a few irrigation methods that are particularly useful for ensuring that plants get the moisture they need.
The transportation of water from one place to another is a central theme in most irrigation systems.
Since the invention of the bucket, people have spent countless hours carrying water to the crops in their fields.
According to USGS, this type of irrigation is called flood (furrow) irrigation.
To save on the burden of carrying water long distances, people learned to augment this process of irrigation by pumping water to the area where it is most needed.
Allowing the water to run along the ground to provide moisture to plants is the basic goal of flood irrigation.
To improve the efficient use of the water, many farmers level their fields to ensure that gravity does not prevent higher elevations from being denied water exposure.
Recycling runoff water, which is collected in ponds and pumped back on to the crops, is another clever way farmers efficiently use water to improve results with flood irrigation methods.
When water conservation and recycling of water is a concern, the use of greywater is sometimes employed for modern gardens.
Grey water refers to water that is generally reused from residential or commercial sources which is free of fecal matter.
When used as irrigation water for crops, it is recommended that any grey water used for this purpose contains only soaps and other products that are both non-toxic and low sodium-based.
A popular method of modern irrigation is termed drip irrigation.
Installing PVC pipes with pressure gauges and flow control valves is at the core of many drip irrigation systems.
In a standard drip irrigation set up, pipes with holes drilled into them are either buried or run near the base of plants in well defined rows.
This approach helps to more efficiently direct where the water is going and prevents a significant amount of the water evaporation problems associated with flood irrigation methods.
Employing the use of drip tape to safely distribute a steady supply of water to a large number of plants, all at the same time, helps to demonstrate why drip irrigation is an efficient, cost effective way to save water while transporting critical moisture to the plants of a garden.
According to this source, it is important to note that drip, or trickle, irrigation typically involves a precision, controlled release of water at or around a plant’s root system.
The water will sometimes be released as a continuous stream or more finely as a mist.
The early approach to spray irrigation arose as people used garden hoses with spray nozzles to distribute water over lawns and gardens.
As spray irrigation became more advanced, the idea of poking holes in the side of hoses and walking about in a circle, to evenly distribute the water, became a popular way to irrigate large areas of property while saving time.
Today, machines, metal frames and long tubes are used in center pivot style spray irrigation systems to cover even larger areas of crops.
An alternative method of spray irrigation is to use hanging pipes adapted with holes to spray water over large areas.
If a row of plants is confined to a small area, such as near the perimeter of one side of a house, then it is possible to install rotating sprinklers to spray water on the desired area for efficient water exposure.
So why should you use an irrigation set up in your garden?
Well firstly, it means you can do away with using your hose.
Sure, watering can be somewhat therapeutic and good for the mind, but it also takes a long time, can be very inefficient, and puts all the responsibility on you to remember to do it.
Secondly, irrigation systems are good for those that like to have their gardens looking good without putting in too much work.
Timers and automated systems can make watering so simple, any one in the family can do it.
Lastly, installing an irrigation system can save you money on your water bill.
Sure, the initial investment for equipment and set up can be expensive, the improved efficiency and reduced water wastage can mean that you’re using less water overall to achieve the same results.
A lot of systems can also run off rainwater and greywater tanks, only reverting back to mains water when the tanks are dry.
DIY Garden Irrigation Kit
Many people just wish there was a simple, DIY option for some of their irrigation needs.
Well, the good news is, there is! I was recently afforded the opportunity by the trusty people at Pope to check out one of their new products, a Raised Garden Bed Irrigation Kit and I was very impressed.
Simple Design & Installation
What stood out to me first about this product is just how simple it was to put together.
Admittedly I have a little experience with reticulation but everything included just made ‘sense’.
If something looked like it should go somewhere…it did. It was then a simple cases of sticking the sprinkler spikes in my desired locations and then attaching the hose. Simple.
The Pope Raised Garden Bed Irrigation Kit allows you to easily customise it for your watering needs.
> The flexible poly tube comes in one length which means you can cut it to the lengths that are needed for your particular location.
> The water flow to a particular tube is turned off and on with a screw driver (or other tool with a small, flat end) on the manifold.
> The actual sprinklers are fully adjustable. They can either be set up to spray over a diameter of roughly 1m or they can be made to act as drippers, just allowing a small amount out at any time.
Though this product is billed as being for a raised garden bed, it really has many uses.
You could use it to water a larger, ground level garden bed fairly easily.
You could use it to water 2 raised garden beds that are close together.
You could use it to water a couple of smaller garden beds or you could do what I have done and used it to water my pot plants.
I have 5-6 different pot plants out near the front door of my house.
As the manifold comes with 6 sprinklers I have simply spread them out over all my pots and now have a simple, effective way or watering my pots on reticulation days.
And it only took me about 15-20 minutes to set up!
This really is a fantastic, simple solution for your smaller reticulation needs.
It wouldn’t work for large scale needs but if you have a couple of raised veggie beds, an area for pot plants or a smaller flower bed, the Pope Garden Bed Irrigation Kit is a fantastic DIY solution.
Bunnings sells these kits for $22.98.
How To Install Simply Poly Pipe Reticulation or Irrigation
Water irrigation is a fundamental part of ensuring healthy plant growth.
Efforts to transport water to crops in an efficient manner is an ever continuing field of study.
Saving time, money and effort, while concentrating on the best way to conserve and employ water, becomes a critical path to establishing the overall efficiency of an irrigation system.