Do It Yourself Drip Irrigation

The Vintage Rosery

Needville, Texas

I've tried them all. Soaker hoses. Plastic drip emitters that plug-in anywhere. Low height pop-up sprinkler heads. The soaker hoses only last a year or so in our climate. And a greater amount of water is released near the water source than at the other end. The plug-in drip emitters are not only easy to pop-in, they easily pop-out without any assistance other than a spike in water pressure. They also stop working when sand or another type of contaminant enters the water line. The labor required to inspect each emitter took longer than watering by hand. And any type of sprinkler not only wastes water, but can and will get the foliage of our roses moist causing and unhealthy environment where Blackspot can grow. I finally called a professional irrigation firm and purchased a professional drip irrigation product that works.

This drip hose has drip emitters manufactured inside the tubing at 18 inch intervals. Thus, there are no external parts that could be broken by gardeners working in the soil. Each emitter releases one gallon of water per hour, regardless of how close or far away it is from the water source. The emitter 10 feet from the hose bib releases the same amount of water as the emitter 150 feet away.
And each emitter is "self healing". Every emitter has its own back pressure valve. When sand or other foreign particle stops up an emitter, back pressure is created and that individual emitter opens up wide. If you are walking in your garden when that happens you will hear it start to spit and spew until the piece of sand is ejected. Once gone, their is no longer a back pressure and the emitter returns to its 1 GPH release rate.
With emitters at 18" intervals, a 3' wide bed will be saturated with this drip hose. Roll out these hoses at two foot spacing's for wider beds. We place the hoses on top of the soil and simply cover with mulch. When we see a drip hose in our gardens, that tells us its time to add more mulch. The extremely slow release through the emitters causes the water to "plume" under ground. Rather than run off the top of the soil, it soaks down and away. The roots of the plants tend to go deeper, making them hardier and more drought tolerant. This is also compatible with the EZ-FLO automatic feeding system, for the ultimate in low maintenance gardening.
We have had these hoses in our garden for nine years. During that time, we have had no maintenance, other than repairing lines we accidentally cut when using a shovel and not paying attention. Repairs take no tools or glue. Just a joiner and about 15 seconds of time.
I originally thought professional grade equipment would be harder to install and more expensive. The opposite is true. A three foot wide by 20 foot long bed with all fittings costs under $9.00 in parts, including the drip hose and necessary fittings. These attach directly to a water hose or hose bib. A battery operated timer can be added for about $25 more to fully automate it.

Approximate Material Costs
1/2" ID, 1 gallon per hour drip hose
$0.32 per foot
Hose bib adapter
Figure eight hose end
90 degree corner fitting (for hard turns)
Tee fittings
Joiners (used for repair to join any two pieces)

The fittings do not require any glue or special tools. The drip hose is simply pushed into a fitting and they seal automatically through pressure.

Maximum Drip Line Runs
Water Pressure (psi)

Should you have really large gardens to water, you may need to calculate the maximum length of a single drip hose. If the maximum recommended length is exceeded, set up multiple areas (or zones) and water each individually.
Each drip emitter can operate with as little as 8 psi or up to 60 psi. Water wells typically are regulated to provide between 40 and 60 psi at the well. the farther away a hose bib, the lower the actual pressure due to friction. This table shows the maximum length for a single run of drip hose. Every drip emitter will regulate exactly the same amount of water, whether it is within a few feet of the water connection or at the end of the line. The length is determined by the drop in pressure due to friction. Estimate your minimum water pressure at the outlet where the drip hose will be connected.
To extend the amount of hose in an area, connect your water source to multiple drip lines. For instance, instead of a single drip line from your water source that is 600' long, connect six, 100' lines. The object is to design the system such that no drip line exceeds the maximum run distance from the water source.

Here is an example of saturating a 12 foot wide bed with drip hose.  Hoses were placed from one end of the bed to the other at two foot spacing. The end of each line is connected to a single cross tube through Tee's. A single hose connector waters the entire bed.
Once the bed is mulched, the hose is not visible.