Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The DripMaster

I'm proud to announce to gardening civilization that I have joined that adventurous set of gardeners who have created actual irrigation systems all on their own. Yes, I am a newly-minted and self-proclaimed DripMaster. I have taken that first step onto the ever-downward path of water conservation and without so much as an "Obi-Wan" to guide me.  Before you know it, I am sure I'll be buying Birkenstocks and tie-dieing my old gardening shirts.

This past Sunday, in the early morning hours before the heat rose high enough to fry bacon on my landscape rocks, I opened the RainDrip Landscape Kit that I had purchased on sale and on a whim a couple of weeks back.  Breathless in my fear of the unknown, I laid out the myriad of "T-connectors" and "pressure-reducing" valves and "1.0 GPH drippers" and  quarter- and half-inch tubing and began to sort through the foreign language of the manual.  Like all "how-to" manuals, this one started with a suggestion to carefully plan the layout of the drip irrigation system on paper beforehand.  At that suggestion of course, like every good do-it-yourselfer, I laughed and tossed away the manual.  Who's got time for planning?
To experiment with drip irrigation, I chose a bed new to my garden this year, one that Mrs. ProfessorRoush and her smaller sidekick had complained was a step "too far"  in my secret plans to take over the yard.  This one currently has a few 'Matrona' sedum divisions and about nine new Griffith Buck roses that are struggling in the Kansas sun.  I've been hand-watering this area all spring and summer, turning aside my usual policy of letting my garden plants live or die on their own in the certain knowledge that it has been way too dry this spring to give the tiny roses a fighting chance.  Knowing that I've got 8 or 10 other roses already ordered to add to this bed, I thought setting it up for irrigation might save this gardener from withering in the coming August alongside the new roses. 
About an hour or so after starting, I had the entire system finished and dripping away, just before the temperature hit the 100F degree mark and I started dripping away alongside it.  The starter kit was quite sufficient to create the system for this small bed and yes, I planned for expansion to the new roses once they are planted.  In fact, the 50 foot main tubing in this kit was enough to start a system in another bed, but I ran out of drip heads before I could finish that one.  The bricks in the picture above are temporary until I can purchase stakes to hold the curves in place.  I think I'll be smart and not bury the thing under mulch until the new roses come in and are planted. And, since I know that you are wondering, No, I did not run drip irrigation to the 'Matrona' sedums in the bed.  I know that they'll do fine on their own without the extra watering and I am, after all, the DripMaster. 


  1. Once you turn to the dark side and install drip, you can never go back ... why would you want to??? Almost all of my roses are on drip heads, and it makes watering them (when I water them, which isn't very often) a lot easier and more water-wise. The only drawback I have found so far is that weeds that germinate in the drip zone are awful to remove, because you have to stand on your head to reach directly under the rose to get to the weeds. Now that you have your drip system in place, you can give your roses a little summer fertilizer pick-me-up by hooking up a Miracle Gro feeder between your garden hose and your main irrigation line.

  2. Drip miester sounds cooler. I have all the drip supplies to complete my auto system including a timer. Just can't get motivated in this heat, along with all the other kilzillion projects I envision. It's a curse.

  3. Timer? Now see, there you’re going me one better. I can’t put a timer on it because my beds are way too far from the house to be connected to the house system….I still have to drag a hose to the bed to hook it up.

  4. Congratulations, Professor! It just goes to show - even guys can do it, although it did seem a lot like rocket science to me. I only have drippers in my potted plants. In sand I'd have a column of watered ground about 6" in diameter with drippers, so I use the misters (they're called sprinklers, I think, but its a fine mist.) I ran the 1/2" poly pretty much in a straight line through the middle of the bed and added to the length of the 1/4" lines to reach the 1/2" poly. I used to lay out my soakers like you did. I don't know why I didn't do the micro that way. I guess I was conserving the poly tubing. As it is I have at least 400' of it in my garden which is very small. Here's to you! Job well done!


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