SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
vuwugarden

Drip irrigation or soaker hose?

vuwugarden
11 years ago

What are the pros and cons of either choice mentioned above? Please provide your experiences with any or both.

Id like to install a water conscious method for the rose beds, but am concerned about hard water deposits within the tubes, deterioration of the tubes from excessive heat, cost of materials and installation, and future change of location for the rose beds.

Can this be a DIY job for a little lady like me?

Thanks for your inputs!

Audrey

Comments (28)

  • jacqueline9CA
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    we put drip irrigation in 75% of our garden over 15 years ago. Within 4 years we had taken it all out. The problem was that the emitters were constantly blocked with debris, also critters liked to chew on them to get water, and even when they "worked" they did not provide anywhere near enough water to the plants during our 7 month warm & dry season each year. I found myself hand watering drooping plants that were supposedly being watered by drip! Then I heard on a gardening show on the radio that to be of any use in our climate you had to have them dripping 20 hours at a time!

    Anyway, first we kept the tubes & things but replaced the emitters with little tiny spray heads. That worked MUCH better (delivered more water), but animals still chewed on them, and moved them around, and people stepped on them....They have all been replaced with teenie tiny (1/4 - 1/2 inch in diameter) soaker hoses. They use the same tubes, etc. as the other stuff, so no need to change anything except the delivery system. They work in pots, and under plants. You can use whatever length of hose you want, to determine the amount of water. You can pin them down with those metal miniature shepards crook things, so they stay put. We have been using them for about 5 years, and they are what we now put in any new planting that is small. We do still use regular soaker hoses for huge plants or larger areas, but NO drip emitters.

    Good Luck-

    Jackie

  • anntn6b
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    We used soaker hose in New Orleans and drip emitters up here.
    The soaker hoses wasted water, copiously. When they had a problem, it was unfixable.
    Drip emitters are not perfect and are high maintenance. But, and this is a biggie, they are 100% repairable. Many of the parts are reusable.

    I hate things that are un-fixable when they break (especially when they are wrapped around thorny rose bushes under several inches of mulch.

  • Related Discussions

    Mulch

    Q

    Comments (6)
    Lots of 'favorite mulch' discussions here and even more over on the Soil & Mulch forum. Several contain long lists of things to use for mulching and plastic/landscape fabric isn't very high on the list. While plastic mulches can work ok on some crops it's is only on specific crops (like melons) and in the northern zones where soil warming is required. And once full summer arrives it can cook the plant roots unless removed or covered. I agree with lacey that you must have been mowing grass that had gone to seed or a lawn with lots of weeds that had gone to seed. Pretty hard to get seeds from grass clippings otherwise. Straw, chopped or not, is often touted as the perfect mulch with old hay and compost close seconds. Other good alternatives are leaf mold or shredded leaves, cardboard, newspaper (shredded or multiple layers), pine straw, etc. but regardless of what it used it has to be applied thickly to work and to remain in place. All of those have the added benefits of soil improvement. Plastic doesn't contribute anything to the soil. Dave
    ...See More

    new plan for watering/irrigation

    Q

    Comments (1)
    Clogging. Did this once with the pvc pipe above ground with holes pointing down, many would get clogged. You'll need large holes to prevent this, which means you might not have enough water pressure for your whole garden. Try just a small strip first, work out bugs, before going all out.
    ...See More

    What brand/type of drip system should I buy for vegetable garden?

    Q

    Comments (1)
    Hi GTN, How much money would you like to spend. Drip tape is the way to go. Soaker hoses clog and are more expensive over time because of replacement. Place PVC mainline with drip tape through the actual garden beds. Drip gives more even and controlled flow, handles pressure better and has cheaper fittings than emitter systems. The cheapest method is just 1/2" pvc sch 40 pipe through the beds with small hole drilled in it. Drill holes small, then larger and larger as you check the flow at various spots in the lateral until you are satisfied the plants are getting the amount and rate you want. Life is trial an error. GL Aloha
    ...See More

    Drip Irrigation or Soaker Hose

    Q

    Comments (2)
    I use soaker hoses, but also have a drop irrigation system (that I am not using). For something like tomatos or other plants set at 12" spacing drip irrigation can work well, simply place an emitter every 12" or so. Where the drip becomes inferior to soaker hoses is with dense plantings. Here the fact that soakers deliver water along their entire length provides even coverage without worrying about installing tons of emitters or having them clog and fail or pop out. With Mel's mix you will have to sow seeds very close to the soakers (or emitters) as the water doesn't spread very far for the top inch. At 6-8" spacing of the hoses the mix is well and evenly moistened below 1" however. Long story short in my opinion the soakers are better suited to the close spacing found in SFG and they are less complicated/time consuming to set up. Drip is a better choice for wide plant spacings.
    ...See More
  • Campanula UK Z8
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    yes, this is absolutely a job worth doing and will be well within your capabilities. What's more, you can buy a basic irrigation set up with main hose and many little outlets which you can add to and extend. It takes a bit of fiddling but when it is working well, your plants will really benefit - no more feast or famine and you can add nutrients to the system too. Having said that, I don't have an irrigation system as my whole garden is a pot garden. Watering takes 90 minutes every day but I do it at funny times, even at midnight with a headlamp on. I have set up a system for other people though and it really is incredibly useful.

  • cweathersby
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I use drip irrigation.
    It really is efficient, since it puts the drip directly at the roses roots and no water is wasted ANYWHERE.
    I've had varmits nibble through the lines, but that's only happened twice in 5 years of using them, and it's a 2 minute fix. Just cut the tubing, stick in a connector, then put each end of the tubing onto the connector.
    Some brands are better than others - and I attribute the problems many people have had to the brands instead of to the method itself. (Can I recomend a brand here? DIG for the drippers- look it up online- I buy it off the internet cause it's cheaper than at big box stores - and Mr. Landscaper for the tubing).
    It does look like a daunting task if you pick up the brochures they hand out at the big box stores and then try to figure out what you need from looking at it.
    But- if you need help just ask. I'm a pro (hardy har har).
    The manufacturers want to sell you lots of bells and whistles that make things complicated, but it's really easy as long as you stick to drippers and soaker hoses (soaker hoses that hook into the drip system for your perennials - not necessarily needed if you have drought tolerant perennials like salvias and lantana- I don't have the little soakers in my new rose garden at all and everything gets by fine).
    Yes, revamping for new rose garden designs is a pain. But you spend less time revamping it when you move roses around than you would watering those same roses even ONCE and you can revamp the drip tube when the weather is cool, instead of hours and hours in August out there watering. Plus you can reuse everything that you moved around during the revamp. Usually your new roses are going in kinda similar to what the old ones were, so you just pull the hose in a slightly different direction.
    Every once in a while a dripper gets clogged. Or falls off. But if you stick the dripper up out of the mulch a little bit, this is something that you'll notice pretty quickly and it's a 30 second fix. My mama hates the drippers because they fall off or get clogged occasionally. I don't understand that, cause it's so much easier to notice and fix than anything else you could use to water.
    My roses get enough water using it, and our summers are really dry and really hot. We usually have about a 2 month span when temps are at or over 100 and there is no rain. I'll go outside, turn on the hose that feeds the drippers, lazy around the garden smelling all the roses and admiring things, then turn off the drippers after a little while. I put a splitter on my water faucet and have the drip hose hooked right in so that I literally don't even have to move a water hose around. That's how lazy I am!

  • vuwugarden
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks everyone for responding! I will do some more research but at least I now know that it's possible for a home garden.

    I will look up DIG and Mr. Landscaper. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • catsrose
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I use drip both in my own gardens and I install them for others. I get my parts from Dripworks.com and have been 100% happy. It is tinker toys. I use a filter and I keep the emitters on the surface and have rarely had the problem of clogged emitters. As the plants grow, I change the size and/or number of emitters to accommodate the new demands. As the garden grows, I add new lines. Occasionally a line breaks, usually from some human activity like weed-whackers--it's easy to fix. I have lots of wildlife and maintain a little pond so they don't have to chew my drip lines. A large bowl of water also works.

  • greybird
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I tried both drip and soaker irrigation. The drips stayed stopped up with gyp and the soaker hoses are piled up in a heap, going to Goodwill. And my plants looked really crummy. We have serious drought in this part of Texas, sometimes no rain for months. The manure and alfalfa pellets I use would not degrade or make it to the root system, just sit there. I converted to overheard sprinklers last year (once a week) and what a dramatic change in my plants. Plants prefer watering that is most like what nature intended.
    I know this is considered wasteful and irresponsible. But out here in the sticks, there is not much competition for well water. I figure I'm throwing it back up in the atmosphere as evaporation and it will end up as rainwater in somebody else's garden.

  • poodlepup
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Drip

  • buford
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I used soaker hoses during the drought, mostly to hide the fact that I was watering when I shouldn't be (I know y'all wont tell on me!). But honestly I prefer to hand water if I have to. I have two rain barrels that I can attach hoses to and I simply move the hose to each rose or other shrub and let it flow until the barrel is empty. Or I use an open end hose (now that we don't have water restrictions) and just fill up each rose once or twice a week, depending on what rain we get. It would be impossible for me to drip irrigate all my roses, so I'd still have to hand water something.

  • wilo
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Audrey, I use the drip methods mentioned (DIG and Mr. Landscaper). I've been using them for about five years. And last summer when we had that string of over 100 degree days and I was in a wheelchair, it saved my gardens. Since you are near me, why don't you come and look at my set up. Might be easier to understand.

    Just let me know.

  • vuwugarden
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks everyone...I will try out a small section to see how it does before I do the entire backyard.

    I currently use the 5-gallon bucket watering method (orange-colored Home Depot paint bucket) with holes punched in the bottom, to slow drip into the bushes. One bucket placed between two bushes. You can imagine the sight of orange buckets dotting the yard.not very pretty.

    Thanks, Wilo, I may take you up on that...will email you.

    I currently have another battle to deal with, so this project may be put on hold. Thanks for all the inputs and suggestions :)

    My best to you all,

    Audrey

  • saldut
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have over-head sprinklers and run the cycle for 1 hour on each zone... I have a deep-well and do not use City water for the garden, hardly anything ever goes wrong and if a sprinkler-head goes it's easy to pop another into place.... I keep cat-food cans around the garden to make sure enough water is reaching every corner.... sally

  • sherryocala
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I started out with soakers. As the plants got bigger, I had to rearrange the soakers. I didn't have them everywhere in the garden so I just switched the whole thing over this spring when I put in the 1/2" poly with mostly the micro spray heads that I got at Lowe's. I looked at DripWorks but couldn't figure out what they were talking about or which ones to use. I'm really not the brightest bulb in the box with this sort of thing. It was a very doable project (hard on the fingers) but I hated doing it because it shined a bright light on my stupidity every moment I was working on it. Argggh! Basically, all the heads are adjustable up-to-10-gal/hour misters with 6' to 10' radius that come in 90, 180 & 360 degrees. I like them because they cover the whole bed which took some tweaking. I also use the shrubbler (sprays like the spokes of a wheel) in the big pots I have. I have city water with a filter to remove the chlorine so no clogs yet or animal terrorists chewing on them. I'll have to be on the look out for critters. I've been running them for 35 minutes every morning at 6:30 (2 faucets with 2 zones each) but I have sandy soil. It's been working pretty good. We'll see if it handles the summer heat with these times.

    Sherry

  • henry_kuska
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago
  • ceterum
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I use soakers because all my beds are mix beds roses mixed with other plants that are also need water. We install the doakers such a way that the soakers are placed closer to plants that need more water and away from those plants that can get away with less water. The soakers are under the mulch so they last longer. It helps if they are hooked up on timers and one can just change the hoses to be hooked up.
    Maybe the drips we tried were not of good quality buy we had a lot of problems with them, so they got discarded pretty soon.

  • lagomorphmom
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Hi Audry,

    As I mentioned in Ingrid's other post, I think a successful irrigation experience is a matter of need vs pitfalls you can accept. But that's life, right?

    I think your starting with a small run is an EXCELLENT idea. That way you can get the kinks out (pardon the pun) and not have to redo everything. I suffered from the three P's for the longest time (Perfection leads to Procrastination which leads to Paralysis) until we had no choice but to install it in our retirement/vacation home. I don't think you suffer from the 3 P's but it's really not to hard if you start with the basics.

    Some things I've learned, your mileage may vary (YMMV).

    - While professional online sources may be fabulous, I think it's easier to *learn* using local product. This way if you goof up or need a few extra pieces you can just run down the street to continue your project. I find our Lowe's has more drip than Home Depot these days, YMMV.

    - Kit or No Kit? You can get a lot out of a kit, but since I'm not a fan of button drippers for my hardy-hard-hard water, you might save otherwise.

    Minimum parts needed:
    - Hose-end to 'compression' fitting (this just means it screws on your hose bib and you can push in your large, feeder drip line. If you buy 1/2" line, that's the size you need on the compression end. This will include a screen filter.

    - Main line. Comes in 1/2" (most common) or 5/8". If you have an average residential property, 1/2" should be fine. Comes in 50' and up. A roll of 50' will last you awhile while you start.

    - Main line Connectors. You may need some 1/2" Tees or Elbows to neatly run the line from your bib, across to the rose line and over, so to speak. This is not science, you just need to eyeball where you're going to go with the feeder main line.

    - Drip line. Standard is 1/4".

    - Drip connectors. Like any 'plumbing' project, grab a bag of 1/4" Tees and elbows and inline connectors. For example, my preference and YMMV, for each rose off the line, is to run a single piece of 1/4" off the 1/2" main line into a T. Then 1/4" off the T to the dripper. This sounds complicated, basically it looks like a stethoscope coming off of the 1/2"!

    - Running Line. Boy! Well, you may find planning guides at your store, but you don't need to know much for an experimental line. For myself, I run the main line (1/2") to the end of the roses, then run 1/4" drip side-lines from the main line to each rose. Kinda looks how your would prune a climber!

    - Drippers. This is sure a YMMV topic. I am in love with Flag Drippers because we have really hard water. The beauty of these is that if you twist the end of them, it may loosen up hard water deposit, you can also twist off the end if you have a clog of debris - genius! For myself AND my dirt, I run 2 2gal drippers per good sized bush, one on each side. I've got decomposing granite plus some mulch. If you've got sand in FL, you may want to use 1gal drippers. THIS is an area where you will need to experiment with maybe 1gal drippers since your soil which may be porous, so don't buy too many drippers ahead.

    - Accessories. If you buy one extra thing, don't get the awl punch (looks like a push-punch) to punch holes in the 1/2" line for your 1/4" lines, get the plier-like hole punch instead. (Caveat - use a sharpie to mark which side of the plier has the punch ;-)

    - Control. For experimentation, just connect it to your hose bib an run it with a hand timer. You can also add a Y to the end of your hose bib so you can have both your hose and the drip inline and not have to switch back and forth.

    - Automatic Control. What ever you do, DO NOT BUY A BATTERY POWERED HOSEBIB TIMER. We tried 3 different brands and all failed due, I think, to moisture shorting them out. WASTE OF MONEY! If you decide you like your hose-bib results, no matter whose advice you follow, put in a manifold with an anti-siphon valves from your water source and use an electric timer JUST like you would for lawn sprinklers. I am lucky in that the DH can run copper like nobody's business, you may want to farm this part out if you want to have different zones: roses, trees, etc. that might need different watering schemes.

    All this said, this is easy for me as the majority of my roses are along a fenceline. This makes it all EASY. If you're roses are here and there, it will be a little more involved, but don't be afraid. I think drip really is a good, time-efficient, water-efficient way to go for a lot of properties...

    Best to you against the neighborhood biddies,
    Kerin

  • lagomorphmom
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Forgot to mention (can you believe I left something out?) about soaker hose.

    First, you can get it 'hose' size and now also as 1/4" drip line.

    If you have trees to irrigate, like fruit trees, the hose size is handy. I cut the length to the canopy circumference, add an end like you use to repair hose and a quick disconnect. I leave it in place so it's easy to bring the garden hose over to use it and barely open the spigot to run it. Works great.

    I cannot recommend the 1/4" line as mine deteriorated, I suppose from the sun - the drip line is under more pressure so you wind up with little fountains. Under mulch as the post above probably would make them last much longer and I may try them again using the mulch as they are a great solution for beds with little annuals.

    Speaking of little plants, you may find you need to plan how and where you plant these. Running drip for the big plants like roses, shrubs and perennials is easy-peasy, but it's not if one goes giddy with little annuals here there and everywhere. I try to limit myself to a few beds and try to group them together in a clump or toss seed like marigold where the drip hits anyway.

    Cons: Weeds grow like the blazes where you run it (course that's still better than sprinklers). Also, if you're on any incline, the water will also weep down the hill as well as down to China if you know what I mean.

    Couple of other helpful hints:

    - Set the 1/2" roll in the sun for a bit and roll out as though it's on a spool and it won't curl.

    - The 1/4" and especially 1/2" connectors are a little tight for small hands. On the 1/2" I spray a little soap on the line so it goes into the connector easier. Also, works MUCH better if you use the cotton cloves with the latex palms or the like, you will have much better grip and not pinch your hands.

    - I also find it hard to remove the 1/4" connectors and drippers. Of course you can cut them off, but if you want to reuse them you still need to remove the tubing. If find pinching the tubing on the side and twisting with a pair of blunt-nosed pliers stretches the tubing nicely so you can pull out the dripper and cut off the stretched end, no fuss, muss or cut fingers (don't ever use a knife, that's an accident waiting to happen as the tubing is too stiff to slice it easily).

  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    If you can, check the TDS of your water. That will give you an idea of how much clogging you might have to deal with, if any. If you have city water your water company may list the average TDS of your water.

    Now that I've been playing around with drip and soaker hoses for a number of years, I like drip best. It's easy to fix and change, and our water use has dropped by 40-50% even though our plants are getting more, not less water. It all goes to the roots where it is needed.

  • vuwugarden
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks, Kerin, for the detailed message. I will print this out and hand it to the Lowe's guy and say, I want to do this...GIVE ME, GIVE ME!

    I will tackle this job Memorial Day weekend, so thank you all so very much for the suggestions.

  • cweathersby
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    On the drippers - I use 1 gallon per hour PRESSURE COMPENSATED drippers. So at Lowe's you'd look for 1 gph PC drippers. The PC part is the most important part. Otherwise some roses will get a steady stream of water - WAY more than 1 gallon per hour, and others may get almost none. All my roses get 1 gallon per hour. I don't try to give some roses more or anything like that.

    My shrubs don't get drippers. Once established most of them are very drought tolerant.

    Same thing for perennials. I used to try to water them, but placement of perennials in your garden really will change a LOT over the years and you don't want to have to chase them with the drippers. Easiest thing is to just weave that little soaker hose you can buy that fits on the drip irrigation system around where the perennials will go.

    Plus, the perennials should get enough water from what is going to the roses.

  • cweathersby
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    On the drippers - I use 1 gallon per hour PRESSURE COMPENSATED drippers. So at Lowe's you'd look for 1 gph PC drippers. The PC part is the most important part. Otherwise some roses will get a steady stream of water - WAY more than 1 gallon per hour, and others may get almost none. All my roses get 1 gallon per hour. I don't try to give some roses more or anything like that.

    My shrubs don't get drippers. Once established most of them are very drought tolerant.

    Same thing for perennials. I used to try to water them, but placement of perennials in your garden really will change a LOT over the years and you don't want to have to chase them with the drippers. Easiest thing is to just weave that little soaker hose you can buy that fits on the drip irrigation system around where the perennials will go.

    Plus, the perennials should get enough water from what is going to the roses.

  • jsnyd23
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Have to agree with catsrose about using Dripworks.com. If you want a similar product to soaker hoses then use soaker dripline. Soaker hoses tend to clog frequently and the watering patterns are uneven. The soaker dripline from Dripworks is quarter inch tubing with emitters evenly spaced apart. Much more efficient than soaker hoses.

  • rosefolly
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I only use drip on our vegetable beds. It makes sense there.

    As for the other garden areas I use overhead spray with heavy mulch. Many roses will do well with monthly deep waterings once established, provided they are generously mulched. This is true even here with rainless summers and an average of 15 inches of rainfall per year. It is important to spread the new mulch and compost when the soil is well-watered of course.

    You would need to do supplemental watering for new, young roses.

    Rosefolly

  • azmutabilis
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I started out with a system where I had 1/2" solid tubing connect to 1/4" microtubing, then at the rose, a ring of the 1/4" soaker tubing circling the plant. I have to say that its success will depend on how many roses you have. The soaker hose is not pressure-compensated so the roses closest to the faucet get lots of water and the ones farthest don't get enough. 10 roses is probably OK, but I have 50 all in containers, so the soaker system didn't work very well.

    Now I'm using pressure-compensated adjustable emitters that spray in a 2-3" circle. My biggest problem is that the birds, etc. knock them out of the pots when they're looking for good bugs to eat. I just have to check frequently.

  • henry_kuska
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Within a week or two of my posting, someone took my watering system.

  • cactusjoe1
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I use both. We have a large property. The bamboos are rather thirsty plants and do better with soaker hoses. My garden beds are densely planted - drippers are not a viable solution - if something were to go wrong, it would be a nuisance hunting for the source of the problem. So soakers go in there too. I use drippers for containers and also for spot irrigation of plants that are isolated from the main beds. Some of my soakers have been in the ground for 10 years, and are still working fine. They are not supposed to last that long, but with annual flushing and the odd repair jobs, I have not had to buy any new soakers in the last 3 years. Do not use the tiny 1/4 inch soakers - they do not work well, clots up easily, and can't be repaired.

    As for the drippers, I use a type of dripper head with completely adjustable flow, from zero to up to 13 gallons per hour. Lee Valley Tools sells them as B. & D. Shrubbler Spikes, and bought in bulk packages, they are the most economical I can find - at abut 75c a piece. They are supposedly the most used drippers in commercial applications. At 30 psi of pressure, and maximum flow rate of 13 gph, it throws out a circular spray covering 360°, to a radius of as much as 2 feet. Turned down low, it acts as a slow dripper. It is this flexibility that is the next most appealing feature. I do not have to select different drippers with different flow rates for different sizes of containers - something which turn out to be a real pain with fixed flow drippers I had used previously. I use them for containers as big as the 20 gallon box to the small 1 gallon nursery containers. The adjustable flow rate also makes it simple to deal with variations in flow and drops in pressure down the main supply line.

    The third appeal is that it will never (and i do say never)block permanently since the spray head is controlled by a screw cap that can be removed completely for cleaning. coverage. The fourth reason I love them is that they are tough and durable. Except for about 1/2 dozen where the inlet pot has been snapped off by an over zealous gardener (me!), the 200 or so scattered in my garden are all working well inspite of neglect and occassional abuse (by my lawn mower!). The othe advantage is that it does not seem to suffer frost damage - as long as the system is well drained and the caps are then screwed on tight.

    They come on a 6 inch spike - which is another reason I love them - they are difficult to lose.

    I manage to get by with a 6 station timer. The beauty is that once set, I don't have to do anything except a weekly inspection. I also use a siphon device to feed soluble fertilisers down the line. Keep in mind that if you want to do this, make sure that you have a reliable back flow preventer valve in the circuit.

  • luxrosa
    11 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    someone stole your water system?
    I am shocked.
    lux.