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I am in the process of starting a small garden (6'x9'). My current sprinkler system doesn't do a great job of covering the area where I have placed the garden, so I would like to tap off of my existing system to add a head dedicated for the garden.

How tall should I make the head for this garden? Should I place it several feet above the ground so that it is able to get over some of the taller plants, like tomatoes? Also, is it better to place one single head for the whole thing or a few heads with less pressure around the garden? Or is there some better method for automated watering of this garden? I would like to have most everything underground while having to perform minimal amounts of digging to get it underground.

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You should consider drip irrigation. –  uncle brad Feb 27 '12 at 15:18
    
@unclebrad I will gladly consider drip irrigation. I have edited my question to include this a bit more. Is it possible to connect drip irrigation to my existing sprinkler zone? What advantages do drip irrigation have over sprinkler heads? –  Kellenjb Feb 27 '12 at 15:22

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you design your garden with the tall stuff around the perimeter, a single head just needs to be high enough to loft over the nearest plants - really high for corn, not so much for chives.

To reduce evaporation loss, mulch and use a head that puts out big droplets.

I don't use an automated system, so I can't help you with the specifics on that. FWIW, I use a little square-pattern sprinkler on our 16' by 16' garden - the simple kind that's just a bunch of holes in a domed metal plate. It puts out big droplets with very little mist. It's on a little platform that's about two feet high. We have trellising all around the perimeter, for tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans, peas, etc.

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My preferred method for watering is with soaker hoses buried just under the soil. Basically I just put them in the beds at the beginning of the season, bury them with just enough soil to hold them down, and then plant. (The occasional uncooperative hose gets held down with the nearest rock.)

Benefits:

  • Water goes directly to roots where plants can use it.
  • No loss to evaporation.
  • No overspray / watering of areas that don't need it.

Drawbacks:

  • Be careful with sharp tools! I've put a couple of nice big holes in my hoses when I wasn't being careful with a pitchfork...
  • I'm not sure that water delivery is even over the entire length of the hose. But it seems to work well enough for my needs.

I don't have a fully automated system, but I do use a simple timer so that I don't overwater. I've had decent luck with relatively inexpensive timers that you screw into the spigot, and then screw the hose into the timer.

I do know someone with a more elaborate electronic timer that turns the water on every day at, say, 3pm and then off again at 4pm. (I've seen this system watering the garden on rainy days!) They like it, but I'd rather just pay attention to moisture levels in the garden soil and conserve water and energy by only irrigating when necessary.

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I'm probably in a similar boat. The new house has its own irrigation although we currently don't know quite where it goes and how well it performs. It also doesn't help that the workmen installed a new fence hit the pipes (should be fixed but who knows...).

Anyway I'm not planning on installing anything this year but by next year we'll have longer term plans and may move / rebuild the existing raised beds for veg. I'm intending to go the drip or soaker hose route, rather than the traditional sprayer heads but don't know anything else about this stuff!

I have a parts supplier catalog which just confuses things further due to the large array of parts available. They're pushing a book I nearly purchased but it gets bad reviews on Amazon. My cart currently contains the following two which get better reviews, and I'll be buying in the near future:

  • All About Sprinklers and Drip Systems (Ortho's All About Gardening) - Ortho
  • Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates, 2nd edition - Robert Kourik

I'm hoping they'll help me -they might help you as well.

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