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Ditching My Soaker Hoses....Going Back To Sprinklers!!!!!!!!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Last year I went through a whole lot of trouble and expense to put in a soaker hose system in my garden (the DIY one from Walmart, with all these elbows and "T"s, and custom sized soaker hose lengths for each row of veggies, etc., etc., etc. Finally I decided it was just NOT that great!!!!!!! The hoses are stuck in place (once the veggies grow a little it's a hassle to move the hose if you need to)...........weeds pin the hoses down, etc. etc. etc.

Soooooooooo, I'm thinking of going back to the old-fashioned method of good 'ol sprinklers on timers to go off early in the morning.

What are your comments??????????????

Lucy

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

I have no opinion since I'm just starting out, but I am interested in this since I just bought a bunch of irrigation equipment. I have a question for you though. It sounds to me like what you're describing I would call 'drip irrigation'. Like the stuff that Home Depot sells a ton of different pieces for and primarily uses 1/2" plastic tubing with little plastic drip emitters attached.

Soaker hoses, I thought were like a typical garden hose except that they have a bunch of pinprick holes in them to leak water.

I know this may sound like I'm nitpicking a bit, but I've been installing the 'drip irrigation stuff' on semi-permanent plants like fruit trees and berries. But I was planning on using what I'm calling 'soaker hoses' on veggies for precisely the reason your saying that I'll want to move them around. So I hope that's not what was causing your problem because I prefer to avoid the sprinklers if I can.

Mooresville, NC(Zone 7b)

Me too, Jeff...I was thinking I could make my own soaker hoses because I thought this was the way to go. Now I'm a bit concerned...what is the best way? And for me, cost does come into play.
I also think back to when my Granny and Papa had their garden and none of this new fangled stuff was even around. They grew the best veggies ever!
So what do we do, experts?
Pinger

Casa Grande, AZ(Zone 9b)

I use drip irrigation on all of my permenent stuff, trees, grapevines, etc. and I use soaker hoses on all of my garden things, veggies flowers etc. Here in the de3sert southwest, we have lots of calcium in our water which will plug up sprinkler hoses. but I have found that soaking them in the winter in tubs of CLR will make them brand new again. for what it is worth....

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

There's been a ton of stuff written on Dave's about T-Tape. This is the worlds best drip system. It is used everywhere.
Trying to find some threads on it, but impossible.
Bernie

Mooresville, NC(Zone 7b)

Biggered...what is CLR?

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

C= ?
L= Limestone deposits
R= Rust
It's a very good cleaner.

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

C = Calcium....I think

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

That's right, brain dysfunction you know.

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

I know exactly what you mean.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

I'm glad that you posted this thread. I had planned to use soaker hoses this summer. Instead of using a sprinkler to water my garden last summer during a lengthy drought, I actually used 2 gallon watering cans to apply the water where it was needed and to keep the foliage dry. Talk about labor intensive and time consuming. Of course, it made me spend more time in the garden tending my plants, and I noticed some things going on that I may have otherwise overlooked.

Since you mentioned CLR, I cleared a clogged kitchen drain the other day with baking soda and vinegar. I was skeptical after learning about this homemade drain cleaner, but it really worked!!! I hear that baking soda and vinegar also works on lime and mineral deposits. I use vinegar to clean my coffeemaker because we have really hard water in this area. It's worth a try.

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

My mom used to use vinegar to clean her coffee maker when we had hard well water when I was a kid. I remember the whole house smelling like vinegar! LOL

Mooresville, NC(Zone 7b)

So what's the vedict on the soaker hoses? Where are all the garden gurus? We need your advice...
Admins? Care to comment?

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Google T-Tape. lots of good things will show up. It's real easy to use & uses very little water.
This company sells the tape & needed parts.
www.jordanseeds.com
Bernie

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

After you get their site up, click on Growers Supplies on top of the page, the page that comes up click on drip irrigation. It's in the second line. This is all the things for hooking it up. Call them if you want, I'm sure they would send you some literature.
Bernie

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Good discussion. I think I'll go with sprinklers on timers this year! Besides the irrigation system (not the drip system, but the actual soaker hoses) last year, and then, sometimes, if you use your string trimmer to cut something near the hoses, it will slice them open and it's a HUGE hassle to replace, seeing as things have grown all around them, etc.

I"M going with a sprinkler!

Lucy

Evanston, IL

Go to www.dripworksusa.com - they have everything you could want - drip emitters, t-tape, drip line, container drip emitters, small sprinkler emitters, etc. You can customize you system anyway you want and easily change it at any ttime with little effort.

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

I hear you Ladyborg.

I've bought a small amount of all of the systems mentioned above to try this year, drip irrigation, soaker hoses, the T-tape Bernie uses and the old fashioned hose and sprinkler. The arguments I've heard against the sprinklers are A) They waste water and B) They splash the foliage of the plant which might promote disease (or splash up disease from the soil.

Well wasting water was something I worried about back when I lived in California, but here we're in a river valley and the county water is pretty cheap and the water table is high if I need to drill a well so I'm not worried about that.

I am worried about the disease though because it's supposed to be bad here with our mild winters and high humidity so I would love to find some drip/trickle solution I can work with. You're completely right about the dangers of weed wackers. I was at home depot the other day and noticed 3 separate places where their landscaper's had cut their drip irrigation hose. And I personally have cut my own water line a couple times with my tractor.

I imagine I will be sprinkling quite a bit this season too. Supposedly as long as you sprinkle in the morning and give the plants a chance to dry during the day you're ok.

Jeff

Denver, CO(Zone 6a)

I have had drip irrigation for about 7 years and there are things I love and things I hate.

Things I love.
It's easy just to turn on a spigot.
It's great in areas were drought is a problem.
Pretty easy to repair if you cut it.
Cut's down on weeds, because you are only watering plants.


Things I hate
It can be expensive. (initial outlay for materials)
You can't use a hoe
needs to be "tweaked" every year and things need replacing and repaired.
Not always attractive.

Since we have droughts that last as long as five years at a time, we have water restrictions often and it can be great in those instances. Also, once it is in, it can be easy to use. (We don't have many problems with humidity here, so I can't address those problems).

I found in some areas I love it, but I use sprinklers for grass and areas where I "seed" plants. So I use a mixture of methods.

I prefer the lines with the emitters are already in rather than when you have to put the emitters in. It can save a ton of work and a lot of time.




Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks for that analysis. I do love things about it, but I think I'd prefer the drip irrigation, since the hose isn't intermingled with the plants and can be easily modulized, that is, easily remove one short drip hose (the mini-hose that branches off the main one) and / or add another without the hassle of trying to unwind 50' of soaker house from around the base of my thorny roses! Yikes!

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

The problem we had with soaker hoses was that they dried out in our hot summer weather and eventually sprung leaks. Duct tape only held up for a while, and eventually I gave up on them. This year I am using Watersorb crystals to hopefully hold moisture in the soil in the flower beds so I don't have to water daily. We have water restrictions here during summer.

June

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

June, good point. Here in subtropical (a slight exageration) zone 8b that happens too! And boy, if you hit the hose with your shovel and it leaks! Then you have to go through all the hassle (as I explained before) of trying to UNwind that awful hose from around the base of your roses, etc. Yikes!
Lu

Waterbury, CT

I have a small vegetable garden and last year I used soaker hoses in it. (the one that looks like a regular hose, not the one with emitters). It worked great. I also use them in some flower beds and around shrubs under mulch. I do throw them away after a couple of years if need be. If it springs a leak, as only one did because of a kink, I sliced the hose and used a "fix-it" piece from the hardware store to join it back together. Mine come from Costco and were very inexpensive.

Los Angeles, CA(Zone 10a)

Our organization is using many hundreds of feet of the soaker hose to cut down on water waste by evaporation and to eliminate sprinkling of the plant leaves themselves. When i first put the hose down, every single inch of the hose leaked nicely, like i had thought it would. After a while though, i started noticing "dry" spots on the hoses and found that there was a little coating of white calcium all over them in those areas. I'm going to try soaking the hoses in vinegar to cut through the calcium, rinse them and then replace them into the rows. It's difficult keeping the soaker hose on top of the soil or mulch, but i believe this is important also, as even the tiny grains of clay/sand can clog up the tiny holes in the hoses. i'm wondering if there is some kind of 'in-line' solution that is not toxic and is fully organic that i could attach to each of the spigots to keep those hoses clog-free.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I'm about to plant my fall/winter crop in raised beds for the very first time. As a seasoned eBucket/container gardener, all I've learned about growing veggies and plants has told me that the best watering method is to "water deeply, as infrequently as possible, in order to make the plant's roots grow deeper to access the reservoir created by deep watering."

With that in mind, it seems to me that the very best watering system would be one that either A) allowed for thorough, even saturation of the soil as close to the plant root base as possible without keeping the (veggie) plant leaves overly wet (fungaluglies...humidity issues...etc.) in the process, or

B) allowed for a slow and consistent reservoir of water to be made available at the plant's root base for immediate access and uptake as necessary, again without keeping the leaves overly wet in the process.

I currently spend countless minutes hand watering my one filled raised bed in accordance with point A above. However, as I construct more growing areas, those minutes will become more and more precious for other gardening duties. Hand watering that many areas will become a "time suck".

With that said, I'm opting to install soaker hoses snaked through my RBs, near the roots of my plants (veggies). The hoses will lie on top of the soil, and will drip as long as it takes to evenly distribute water throughout the entire bed. Then, off they go until the next time....

Slow and steady wins the race, and keeps the plants happy and growing...

Linda

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I've read several people say DON'T use soaker hoses with hard water.

However, that only aplies to the porous kind intended to "weep" wtaer right through the material.
You could instead use dripline (1/4" or 1/2" hose with built-in drip emitters).
Or T-tape, which i think is flat dripline.

Any of those would be as efficient as soaker hose, in terms of losing no water to evaporation, because the water just drips from the hose to the soil. And you can lay much over it, perhaps at the risk of more clogging.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

I couldn't do without my soaker hose grid. Every year, I've got my garden fixed so all I have to do to water is turn valves.

I started out with the WalMart parts too, back about when this thread started in 2007. Walmart hasn't carried that soaker hose system for several years now, but you can still order parts online from the manufacturer.

My vegetable garden is about 100' from our big backyard faucet, we have our own well. Someday I'm gonna bury an underground water line out to the garden, but in the meantime I just stretch a couple of connected hoses. My garden is fenced and bordered with railroad ties, and I have a line of 3/4" PVC pipe fastened to the railroad ties along the entire west and north sides of the garden. There's a faucet every six feet in the PVC line, and my garden hose from the backyard faucet attaches to the line and supplies the whole thing when it's turned on.

As I plant my veggies I install a soaker hose on top of the ground beside each row of planted seeds or seedlings - at the time of planting. Each soaker hose is attached to one of the faucets in the PVC line, and one run of soaker hose often waters two or three rows. As soon as seedlings are a few inches tall, I mulch the rows and paths between rows with fresh grass clippings, covering the soaker hoses. This really conserves water and minimizes fungus diseases.

Every year my garden design and soaker hose configuration changes. For paths and areas between rows that I don't want to water, I use cut up pieces of an old garden hose. The 1/2" diameter soaker hoses fit snugly inside the cut ends of a piece of garden hose, and I secure them with small metal hose clamps at each junction.

I usually leave the various faucets I'm using in the garden turned on, so to water all I have to do is turn on that one faucet at the well head - easy. If there's a reason to water some rows more or less than others, then I can control that with the various faucets in the garden.

I don't know why my soaker hoses don't get clogged with lime - I don't think anyone has more calcium in their water than us here in the limestone Ozarks. My only guess is that it's because I run my soaker hoses without water pressure restrictors - with all those lines going they work best at full pressure and our well delivers a lot of pressure.

Anyway, that's my soaker hose system and I don't hand water a thing or use overhead sprinklers either.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Ozark,
Please, I'd like to see more of your setup. I was about to order a soaker hose setup from Gardener's Supply Company. You cut them up in pieces and attach them to your hose, so they only drip where you want them too, much like your system but probably much more $$.

Your system sounds like something very do-able for me, at a greatly reduced cost. I can work with PVC, just need to see how to connect everything. I would greatly appreciate it if you could snap a few pics of the strategic connection points, so I can see how you to put it all together.

Right now, I have two 4x8' raised beds, side x side, with a 2 ft. walkway between them. Over time, I will be adding beds, so there will be a total of 7 growing areas before it's all over. I'd like to start with a system I can add on to as the other 5 RBs are built. My hose bib is approximately 12-15 feet from the two RBs.

Thanks!

Linda

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Ozark -

Quoting:
There's a faucet every six feet in the PVC line, and my garden hose from the backyard faucet attaches to the line and supplies the whole thing when it's turned on.


Could you show us some photos of your setup? I'm particularly interested in how you attach a faucet to a PVC line.

I've been trying to figure out (in my head) how to water nine raised beds with each bed having an individual shut off from one main line. Yours sounds like what I've been looking for.

Thanks.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Seems as though Linda and I asked the same question at the same time. ^_^

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

LOLOLOL!!! Great minds DO think alike!!!!!!!

Linda & Bee & Ozark doing the "Soaker Hose!" ^^_^^^^_^^^^_^^

This message was edited Jul 10, 2012 11:37 AM

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Okay. Earlier this thread I gave some links for T-Tape.
This is our 27th year of market gardening. We still have found no better way to irrigate, probably because we didn't have to try anything else.
One picture shows it on tomatoes. The other on our container strawberries.

The manifold setup on the berries costs very little. Just went to local Menards,(Home improvement store), & bought it right out of plumbing supply. Less than $5 a row. It is " CPVC pipe & fittings.

Thumbnail by CountryGardens Thumbnail by CountryGardens
SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Countrygardens,
On the strawberries, you use the t-tape plus the pvc? I only see the pvc pipes....

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

T-Tape is there. PVC is just the header.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

OK.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

I took pictures of my soaker hose setup, but my computer isn't recognizing my camera so I can't upload the pictures. I'll see what I can figure out tomorrow and I'll post them when I can.

Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

We copied the one that Gardeners Supply sells-they call it "Snip and Drip". I bought 50" of 1/2" soaker hose (2 sections of 25' each) from Sam's Club for $12.95 and we used an old garden hose for the in-between sections. The 1/2" connections were the only problem, HD and Lowe's didn't have them, we found them at a hardware store. My husband is not a DIYer, but he got it done! We have a 10 x 10 flower garden, a couple of tomatoes in the ground in another section, 3 raised bed vegetable gardens, and 2 potato bags which I've already harvested. This system waters the whole thing easily with no wasted water on the ground! We just leave it in place and in about 30 minutes we've watered everything! It took a while to set it up, but it's worth it! If my hubbie can do it, just about anyone can!

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

OK, pictures. I don't know what's going on with the USB cable that came with my camera, but the solution was an $8 memory card USB adapter from WalMart.

I laid out this soaker hose system 6 or 7 years ago and it's getting old. Some small repairs are needed every year, and some parts need replacing - but it still works fine and it's a big help to me.

The first picture shows where the garden hose from our well faucet attaches to the PVC grid. It's just a female hose swivel fitting going to 3/4" PVC pipe. Visible in the picture is the "Y" fitting I've always had between the hose and the PVC. I need to replace that because the little plastic valve handles broke off in the heat this summer. The "Y" is there so I can run boiling-hot water from the hose in the sunshine out on the ground, then close the "Y" and direct water to the soaker hoses once it runs cool.

The second picture shows the 3/4" PVC pipe with faucets, and several runs of garden hose/soaker hose attached. This is the east end of my garden where I've harvested potatoes, beets, turnips, and cabbages this year and now it's growing a late planting of sweet corn. This spring I laid out eight rows of those early veggies 36" apart, and after harvesting them I pulled the hoses aside and fertilized and tilled the ground. Then I put the same soaker hoses back in place and planted corn. I'm in the process of weeding and thinning the corn rows and I'll mulch the whole area heavily with grass clippings when that's done. You can see the hoses and soaker hoses now because the mulch isn't covering them yet.

The third picture shows how 1/2" soaker hose fits inside the cut pieces of an old garden hose that I use to span pathways. These are secured by small metal hose clamps from Lowe's.

The last picture shows a soaker hose in place beside one row of corn. This hose and the pathways will be covered by mulch, and I usually water two or three rows with each soaker hose run. My garden layout is different every year, so every time I plant I'm out there with a pocket knife and a screwdriver making the soaker hose runs fit what I'm planting.

Thumbnail by Ozark Thumbnail by Ozark Thumbnail by Ozark Thumbnail by Ozark
SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

THANK YOU, OZARK!!!

A thousand words!

Now, questions regarding pic #2 with the PVC line:
►You purchase the faucets separately, and attach as many as you need to that main run of PVC with "T" connectors, yes?
►Are your connections glued together? Do they need to be glued?

Thanks!

This message was edited Jul 11, 2012 3:52 PM

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I love those Y fittings with ball valves. If I wnat to throw a LOT olf water quickly, sprayer nozzels are too restrictive.

But I can open one of those ball valves just far enogujbh to get a fairly fine sray, or heavy colarse spray, and throw 3-4 times as much water as a shower head or spray head puts out.

I adjust the force by making a finer srpay, and backing far enough away that air slows down the droplets.

That is NOT suitable for watering delicate things, but IS good for throwing a lot of water onto bushes, trees, bamboo or a dry compost heap.

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