How to Put in Your Own Drip System—or Not

Black Oak, Arizona Native TreeWe planted an oak tree this week, an Emory Oak (black oak), native to this area though not common until one reaches higher elevations. Since I want to water it, I encircled it with a few plants I thought might look good at its almost evergreen base. When new oak leaves begin to emerge in the spring, the old-timers turn yellow and fall off. They are pretty small for raking…welcome to desert and near desert plants. (The smaller the leaves, the greater the water conservation.)

Nearby, I had a small flower bed–natives and Iris–that I watered by hand, and a few large ceramic pots. All need to be on a mechanized watering system due to my tendency to overestimate what I can accomplish in a day. Long lists, happy completions, and some tasks pushed forward. (Plants are not always pleasant about that decision.)

A year ago, I hired a local green thumb to come over, walk my property and advise me. She recommended a hybridized drip system. I’d put off installing a drip system, because I did not want to pay a crew to dig 10 inch deep trenches all over my yard and then I would have to decide which “zones’ needed more or less water. Too expensive and too hard. Martine suggested I put in strips of irrigation tubing with quick release connectors. Very easy to do.

I had three zones or areas to water, so I purchased three hose-end timers. Nothing complicated to put on the hose bib (faucet). Just screw them onto the hose before the quick connector, and when the water is on, turn the timer to 15 minutes, an hour, or whatever you need. In my setup, by the time I walked each garden area checking for leaks, sprung emitters, or other anomalies, and returned to the beginning, it was time to turn that one off.

Tying in the oak tree and adjacent flower beds required expanding the irrigation system. By now, I had two quick connects in the north back yard, so I considered which one would be simplest to expand—expansion requiring a length of larger tubing buried underground to carry life-giving water to the plant beds. The existing garden I chose was a bit farther away, but somehow more logical for the task. You see, as water travels down a line, the flow can become weaker, foot traffic can endanger the line, animal attacks on near-surface water carriers…all must be considered.

What makes these decisions easy is understanding I will in all likelihood be again learning by doing, that is, trial and error, which exponentially sweetens life. That is, the less fear one has about doing something wrong—anything and everything—the more happily one journeys.

Please post your questions below. I’m in complete and total gardening mode.

By the way, I probably don’t have answers to your questions—just more questions. Thanks for helping to figure this out together.

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