You may know the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to gardening, preventing your plants from drying out is worth well more than a pound of veggies, flowers, and a beautiful landscape. Keeping plants watered throughout the summer can be expensive and challenging. Hand watering takes time and spray-type sprinklers can be wasteful. Drip irrigation is a great solution that delivers the right amount of water exactly where it needs to go. It can operate on a timer, allowing you to enjoy your summer without the stress of constantly worrying about your garden. Here’s a few tips to get you started:
- Know your plants – While some plants thrive in dry conditions, others can be quite thirsty. A drip system allows you to give each individual plant the right amount of water for its specific needs. If you’re unsure how much water your plants need, ask your garden center professional for advice. Another important consideration is the soil. Sandy soil tends to drain water away more quickly than soil that is either heavy with clay or rich in organic material.
- Draw a plan – Sketch out each flower or garden bed, including the dimensions of the bed, how far it is from the nearest water source, and how many plants you need to water. This allows you to purchase the correct supplies the first time. Rows of small plants, such as lettuce, radishes, and many annual flowers can be best served with soaker hose, while larger individual plants like tomatoes, squash, and many landscape perennials, shrubs, and trees are better served with individual emitters
- Have a budget – Depending on the size of your garden and what you’re growing, you can spend as little as $20.00 on a 4’x8’ bed for something basic. Depending on how intricate you want your system to be, you can certainly spend more. Proper care and maintenance of your system, including winterizing it in the fall, will reduce upkeep costs in the long run. Whether you want to spend a lot or a little, the multitude of options available to use with drip irrigation makes it accessible for budgets of all sizes.
Originally published on June 4th, 2018. Updated on June 3rd, 2020.