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A year ago, we redid our yard and put in a nice vegetable garden. It's got two raised beds about 3 x 8 and a bunch of pots. I bought my wife a drip irrigation system so that watering would be easier and so that the garden can live through our frequent summer vacations. We're totally overwhelmed by the drip system though, and it's been in the box for a year now. We're getting tired of asking the neighbors to water the veggies (as are they, I'm sure), so it's time to get this thing in!

The biggest issue we're running in to is not knowing how to design for different water flow. We've got all sorts of attachments so that different plants can get different amounts of water at different heights, etc. I don't understand which types are best for what kind of plants. And even then, we plant different plants all year long and then rotate the plants from year to year. How do you design this so that the irrigation system isn't out of date as soon as the season changes or the next one year rolls around?

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I'm in a similar situation. It would make so much sense for our deck and raised beds. My pepper seed supplier had a kit, so I ordered it with my seeds this spring. They no longer have it so referred me to the supplier - who sent a catalogue. And yes, I'm overwhelmed by all the options and gubbins! I think it would have been easier with the initial starter kit and I could have then added bits as necessary once I found out what worked or didn't. –  winwaed Jun 18 '11 at 14:41

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think this is one of those things you learn by trial and error.

What emitters to use, how to route the different lines, etc is going to depend on a lot of different variables - how much sunlight the boxes get, the type of drainage, what type of plants, water pressure available, etc, etc.

I'd start with something basic, ensuring that water gets to each group of plants, using whatever attachments you have at hand. If you know that certain plants need to have the leaves hydrated, then do that, but for the most part as long as the root system is getting enough moisture, you should be OK. Over time, check the growth and soil conditions for each plant or area, and make adjustments as needed. If the water is running out of the bottom of the pot 1/2 the way through a cycle, you can put in a smaller emitters, and it the soil appears too dry in some areas increase the flow or add additional emitters.

Don't forget to make sure that you have a backflow preventer to make sure none of that water from the garden makes it back into the supply - not such a big deal if it's a rain barrel, but you probably don't want to contaminate your drinking water.

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