There's nothing like an efficient raised bed watering system to make your gardening prowess better. Whether you're using drip irrigation, soaker hoses, sprinkler systems or automatic watering systems, you'll save a lot of time and effort once you've set it up.
Especially with raised garden beds, an irrigation system can prevent many problems. Say goodbye to uneven watering and water-borne diseases, and say hello to water conservation! Using soaker hoses or drip lines, getting the water to where it's needed on the ground isn't possible. it will happen.
System irrigation is one of the best things anyone can add to a vegetable garden. If you want, you can drip water into certain areas and keep more drought tolerant areas out of the system. Let's talk about installing an irrigation system so you can enjoy your greenery.
Watering system or hose?
While a garden hose is an entirely ok method for watering plants, there are some benefits to switching to an irrigation system. By watering in the root area, you can deliver moisture directly into the plant and avoid water-borne diseases like powdery mildew or other fungal spores that cling to wet leaves. The system also prevents evaporation of water from the leaves of the plants, which can end up as water waste that can promote disease.
An irrigation system allows you to wake up, turn it on, do your daily garden walk, and turn it off. Instead of lugging hoses around the garden, focus on checking your plants to make sure they're healthy and strong. With an automatic system like a hose timer, you might not even have to turn it on and off. This gives you time to relax in the morning. This allows you to save garden walks at the most convenient time.
A soaker hose is an excellent way to gradually irrigate your plants while delivering water to the root area. Soaking hoses are usually made of rubber or polyurethane and contain dozens of tiny holes that slowly drip water into the garden. The outer layer of these types of soaker hoses is usually made of cloth. Another form of soaker hose is made from recycled rubber and is completely porous, allowing water to string out along its entire length.
The benefit of a soaker hose is that you can simply place it on a raised bed to water existing plants. Especially if you're gardening in square feet, a soaker hose is an excellent alternative to a drip irrigation system. One thing about soaker hoses over drip irrigation is that they don't require any type of installation other than hose placement and connection to the main source.
Drip irrigation systems on raised beds provide gardeners with a stylish design and efficient plant watering. Some systems come with multiple pieces that you put together yourself, and some come with basics that you add as needed. Every drip irrigation system comes with hoses or pipes that are either pre-pierced or pierced by you. When connected, they slowly drip water into raised bed gardens and can be placed so they only drip on certain plants and areas. Those systems that allow you to poke holes can design water-conservative irrigation in your own garden.
Drip irrigation systems can also include a variety of drippers. Heads range from simple holes in hoses to attachments that control irrigation flow more efficiently. If you can use the hole in the hose as your primary water source, look for perforated tubing, drip tape, or laser tubing. These types of transmitters can easily get clogged if you use water with a lot of minerals. Instead, use a sprinkler launcher, which forces water off the ground, just like in a sprinkler system. The water strength in the sprinkler head is higher than that of the porous hose, but not as high as a normal sprinkler head. On raised beds, you can set up a system that directs the queue to the raised bed garden, which then sticks out through the protruding sprinklers. This is perfectly acceptable for garden irrigation systems, especially in plants that are not prone to mold.
How to set up the system
Installing a soaker hose or drip irrigation system involves varying levels of difficulty depending on your preferences and equipment. Consider the following before installing a drip irrigation system or soaker hose in your raised bed garden.
main water source
Start with the main water source. Is it from the rain barrel or the well pump? Or do you have a faucet on the side of your house that you want to use to irrigate your raised bed? Is your preferred system using PVC pipe or hose? Will you connect regular methods to other systems? And most importantly, what is your biggest garden inspiration?
Once you've taken the time to think about these things, you can plan how to set the waterline from the master bed to the garden bed. An important consideration: Is the plumbing from the main to the raised bed garden above or below ground? While buried pipe is aesthetically appealing, it requires more setup than a simple garden hose placed above ground. However, buried pipes prevent trip hazards in the garden. Decide whether to follow the pipes up the sides of the raised bed garden or bury them in the garden grid. If you haven't set up a raised bed, that's great! This means you have more room to install your new drip irrigation system on the ground. If you have a bed installed and you are concerned about a tripping hazard lying in the garden, a few inches of mulch covers the hose and prevents tripping.
Hose diameters vary for irrigation purposes. Wider tubes deliver more water to the bed, while smaller hoses deliver less water. First, determine how and how much water you want to supply. Then check to see if you can make adjustments at any time. Most regular hoses (including soaker hoses) come in 1/4, 1/2, 5/8 and 3/4 inch sizes. The main lines can be 1 to 3 inches wide because they have to withstand most of the physical forces. Most drip irrigation kits come with a 1/4 or 1/2 inch pipe that connects to the main pipe. A rule of thumb: the higher the pressure, the wider the hose.
Most drip irrigation systems operate effectively at 25psi, but can handle lower pressures at 15psi. If the strength of the dripper is too low, you will have inconsistent watering. If there are too many, parts may fall out of the system or the hose may burst. There are ways to adjust higher intensities with drip lines, which we'll discuss in the next section. Lower pressures are more difficult to regulate and often require users to install systems designed to handle lower flows. Thankfully, there are many hoses on the market, all of which are the right diameter and deliver more water directly to the plants than in a normal hose. If you're not sure which system has the best way to supply water to your plant, measure the strength using a pressure gauge purchased at your local hardware store.
Now that we've laid out the basics of watering plants in a garden with raised beds, let's talk about the various extras that can improve your gardening journey. Pressure controllers are an excellent choice for high pressure sources. They are available in low, medium and high flow formats. If you know high pressure is an issue, the controller will adjust so that you can water directly without losing your equipment or blasting it in the process. Another problem that many people have when watering plants is hard water, which is full of minerals that can overwhelm plants and soil. In this case, install a hard water softener system in the line at the source. These remove excess minerals from the water and keep the soil in the bed healthy and stable. Filters associated with hard water softeners remove excess minerals through a filtration system that can range from small screens in hoses to complete pumps. More sophisticated filters may not be necessary in gardening practice. A very small hose attachment may suffice.
One way to make watering fully automatic is to install a timer at the source that will turn irrigation on and off without manual intervention. Some timers are solar powered and can be turned on and off by sensing the rising and setting of the sun. Some are high-tech and controlled by an app on your phone. While timers are great when they work, sometimes they break or don't work properly. If you have a little extra money to spend, consider a timer that works through a specific time instead of solar time. In summer, when evaporation is an issue, timers are a great watering method that can take some of the gardening effort off the table. A functioning timer can help you spend less time lugging a hose in any season.
One way to experiment with different watering systems in the garden is to mix and match watering methods. If you're growing traditional crops next to a more free-form garden, perhaps a mix of drip irrigation for the former and soaker attachment for the latter makes the most sense for you and the soil. If you're like me and grow tomatoes in pots, you can have a drip irrigation system running through the pot and a drip irrigation system buried in the ground on the path leading to your raised garden. Every few years, you can change the watering pattern you use and update the irrigation system you're using, and feel free to test different methods. Then you'll find your favorite way to water your garden.
The combination you choose may involve gardening with different transmitters. If evaporation is not a problem in a bed, you can have a standard sprinkler launcher while your tomatoes benefit from being watered through drip tape. Crops are likely to benefit the most from the watering that a PVC-guided system gets, while you may want to manually water other plants that don't need as much water because the rain will take care of them. Figure out which plants need what kind of watering and go from there.
No matter the season, it's never too late to set up a raised bed watering system. Follow these steps to fill your garden with lush greenery year-round.
Do some research. Find out what your plants need, what the soil fill and seeds in the bed need, and decide which system is best. Consider the main water source in your yard as well as the flow strength and mineral content. Watch a video about different irrigation methods (or drip irrigation in particular, like Kevin's video linked earlier in this article) and use that video to find a product that fits your needs and budget.
Sketch out your design. An intuitive understanding of the design helps you plan. Get the specific or general information you need here, including actual measurements and scales.
Find and buy equipment. Choose from a complete kit or assemble the parts yourself. Consider hose diameter, emitters, and any miscellaneous items you might need.
Lay out the pipes. Before starting the installation, put everything where it ends up going to make sure your design works.
Proceed with the installation. This is the hardest part, but it's the most important! If you are using the kit, follow the instructions. Otherwise, stick to the design and you're good to go!
Sit back, relax and enjoy the extra time and money you save. Now that you have a system, you don't have to work hard in your garden and your plants are happier. Feel free to make any adjustments.