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Master Gardener Fred Hoffman teaches you how to use drip irrigation systems to water your garden and save water.
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How to Use Drip Irrigation to Water Your Garden
Chris Burrous: Everyone’s a farmer when it comes to their own backyard, try these tips for doing it Home Grown.
Fred Hoffman: As you’ve noticed, there’s less water for all of Californians and the water that is available is a lot more expensive. For farmers, they’re helping the cause by switching out more and more of their crops to drip irrigation and there’s no reason why backyard gardeners shouldn’t be using drip irrigation. It’s great for trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables, but where do you begin?
Fred Hoffman: Here we are in one of the most popular aisles of any nursery or hardware store, especially on weekends- the drip irrigation aisle! This is where frustrated gardeners come and stare at the wall of emitters and filters and connector —and for a lot of these gardeners it has become drip irritation. Well if you’re starting off in the world of drip irrigation, one of the best things you can do is buy a starter kit, because it contains every part you need to get started. But once you’re done with this, you’re going to be back dealing with this.
Fred Hoffman: Not all drip tubing is interchangeable, different manufacturers have different specifications, especially for their half-inch tubing. That’s why paying attention to the color of the parts is very important. Always shop at the same store where you bought your original drip irrigation system, they’re sure to have the parts.
Fred Hoffman: Here are the basics you need to hook up a drip irrigation system to an outdoor faucet. Start with a timer that way you can go on vacation and your plants still get watered, then an anti-siphon valve to protect your water supply indoors. Adding a filter is a great idea to keep impurities out of your drip line, you can add fertilizer to this as well, and then you need a pressure regulator to make sure you don’t blow out all those little drip heads. And finally you want to put on a hose end tubing adapter, make sure it’s a hose end adapter not a pipe adapter because you’re working with an outdoor faucet. And then you’re going to hook your tube up in here and add emitters. Well, what kind of emitters should you be adding? Well, lets look at a few and see how they work.
Fred Hoffman: Emitters, sprayers, sprinklers- what’s the best drip irrigation system for you? Let’s start with the basics, drip emitters. They come in half gallon, which has a red backing, one gallon per hour emitters, which have a black backing and two gallon an hour emitters, which are green. Also you can get a quarter inch soaker hose kind of system. There are half gallon an hour emitters spaced about 12 inches apart, perfect for container plants. These are called in line emitters, you can’t see the emitters but they’re built in. They’re hassle free, you can’t cut them off with a weed whacker, they put out one gallon of water, they’re spaced about 12 inches apart- great for rows of trees and shrubs. If you have a tropical garden, some ferns you’d like to keep cool, raise the humidity- there are mister-spraying heads like this, they put out about 8 gallons of water per hour. For ground covers, it’s hard to beat bubbler heads. Bubbler heads also put out 8-12 gallons of water per hour and you can space those about 24 inches apart. These are little inexpensive spray heads, they come in a variety of patterns, and you can go from 360 degrees down to 45 degrees. You can also get them mounted on supports, which is great if you’re trying to shoot over small shrubs. —And finally you’ve got the mini-sprinklers, and mini-sprinklers are wonderful for covering much bigger areas.
Fred Hoffman: One final tip wherever you buy your drip system, they’re going to have these booklets available, they’re free and explains drip irrigation in great detail. Drip irrigation, you’re going to save water and you’re going to save money which save you bucks to spend it on the more important things in life.