Replaced soaker hoses with low-flow mini sprayers

Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

My garden irrigation started with drip hoses, years ago. Over time I found them to be unreliable and have replaced them with mini sprinklers. The water sprays or streams only a few inches off the ground and close to plant roots. Sometimes I put the sprayers directly into the half inch hose and sometimes connect them with quarter inch hose. The thing I like so much better about this method is that I can see what's going on. It's obvious when there is too little or too much water. This system is especially adaptable to pots and hanging baskets. Timers connected to the faucet control water usage. I have continued to find a use for quarter inch drip hose at times but only short segments of 2 feet or less. I use it in conjunction with the low flow sprayers

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Please go into detail about the timers you used, photos or diagrams, if possible, of how you set your system up. Also, what half-inch hose? Is it the black one with a colored stripe on it?


Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

Dogs you asked a very important question regarding the half inch hose. It is the primary distribution hose that is connected to the water source. I had a lot of trouble in the beginning, before I understood that each brand uses a different size hose, even though they are all called half inch. They range in size from .062 to ,071 outside diameter. So the very first thing to understand is to not mix brands of hose and connectors. A couple brands have a stripe but not all. The dimension is written in small print on the hose packaging.
I have probably used every brand of timer on the market. They range from 1 to 4 zone. Knowing how many zones you need comes down to mathematics, testing your water source for volume and calculating the output from all of your sprayers. Pressure is not usually a factor since the systems use up to 35psi and most homes put out more then that. A pressure reducer is usually required, which must be purchased with the system. Each manufacturer makes their own and they are interchangeable. An antisiphon device is also usually required. Also interchangeable.
One thing to know about the timers is that some include programming for the date and time. Some do not. Those that don't are controlled relative to the time you start them. I'll try to explain that. If you use a timer that sets date and time, you have the ability to set them to start any timeof day that you choose, no matter what time it is at the moment. The ones that do not use date and time start at the time it is when you set it. If you set it at 9 in the morning to go on every 24 hours, for example, it will go on at 9 am. If you want it to go on at noon, you have to set it at noon. This difference is reflected in the price. Some also use only preset times, not settable by you.
This is the "hook up to the house" information you need when starting out.
This is the stuff that took years for me to learn. From here, it's really variable and much more detailed. The quarter inch stuff and sprayers and streamers and tools are interchangeable and easy to vary and experiment with. I can help further but this is the concrete information that I wish I had had in the beginning.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

I see someone else has found out the hard way on mixing half inch hoses since they are next to impossible to attach to an existing system unless they are from the same manufacturer. If you buy Rain Bird (or Toro or any other system) then stay with that manufacturer for 1/2 inch including tees, elbows, connectors, etc.

Quarter inch (or spaghetti) tubing can be mixed but the barbs, emitters probably should come from the same vendor as the tubing for best fit. Spaghetti tubing can be bought in big rolls as well as emitters (in different drip rates), barbs, stakes for micro sprinklers, etc.

The stakes that hold the spaghetti tubing come in different flavors - the cheap stuff is not worth it since they usually come out of the ground or pot and also let the tubing slip out of place. Pay a bit more and get the stakes that clamp the tubing in place plus have a bug guard included.

I have been buying the kits for a few years and I buy extra drippers and micro sprinklers as needed. Typically a kit contains enough half inch tubing to do a nice layout but micro sprinklers and spaghetti tubing may not be enough in the kit.

Watch out for the stakes with angled barbs for micro sprinklers! They break easily. A better stake doesn't come with the kits (yet) but they are fairly inexpensive and come with a Tee barb which is less prone to break. They run about a dollar per stake but they are much taller than the ones that come in kits.

The anti-siphoning coupler may not be needed if your house already has one but it won't hurt to have more than one in the flow path either.

Another thing to do is roll out your "new" 1/2 inch tubing on a warm to hot day so it is more pliable before routing it among your plants. It makes a big difference.

Timers make the system complete. Just remember to turn the water on and all valves are turned "on" between the house and timer! I went to Thailand a few years ago in July for two weeks thinking I was all set up for keeping things green and alive. When I got back I found most of the plants on the front porch were dead because I forgot to turn the valve on in front of the timer. Lesson learned! Valves at the timer can go bad so be ready to replace them as need be.

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

Hcmc, do you have any tips for punching holes in the half inch hose and inserting the quarter inch connectors? One manufacturer makes a tool into which you place a self piercing connector so that the connector is installed as you punch the hole. It's really a nice way to go but isn't applicable if you're using a T or an angle. Inserting a lot of those quarter inch connectors can become painful to your fingers after awhile.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

I use the punch provided in the kits to make the hole and there is another tool you can purchase to push the barb in (about $5 which seems high but works very nicely). For tees, I only use those to tee off a tube already attached to the half inch tube. You can still use the same tool to push in the first barb into a hose. It would be nice to have a tool that holds the tee or barb so you could push the tubing over the exposed part. I never had luck with the self-piercing barbs so I always use the punch first.

Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

So when you attach the quarter inch to the half inch do you punch on the side? Sometimes I do that and sometimes I punch on top and use an angle connector so the quarter inch lies flat on the ground. That is preferred because then I have more options in moving the sprinkler around. The little angle connector pivots on the hose.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

I punch usually on the side but it doesn't matter much other than aesthetics. Of course goof plugs are always a great thing to have around too. The pivoting sounds like a good idea - never thought about that but I usually only have the straight barbs and the Tee connectors.

I do use long runs of sphagetti tubing to get to a bed 20 feet away instead of running additional 1/2 inch tubing. I usually trench a few inches below the soil to hide it plus keep it from being a trip nuisance. Now if I could keep the dogs from digging and exposing the tubing again!!!

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

A small detail here but about the goof plugs. I have seen 2 kinds but one kind only seems to come with an edging kit that doubles as irrigation. The goof plugs in those kits are flat and when inserted don't have the little stick out end. I'd like to know where to get those as they are just about invisible. Like I said, I know this is a small detail LOL

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

I got my goof plugs at Home Depot. The extra tool I bought also has a slot for removing barbs which is harder to take out than put in.

Pine straw on top of the hoses helps hide most everything except micro sprinklers.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Home depot in my area doesn't stock any systems or parts. I guess mail order is my best bet. Any advice on where to go?

Thanks, Pam

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> I guess mail order is my best bet. Any advice on where to go?

Dripworks seems to have huge variety and prices similar to Home Depot. I found a nursery wholesaler who beat their prices but had less variety (Steuber's distributing).

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I put in my order today from Dripworks, which was also highly recommended on another thread here. I was afraid to bargain-hunt because of other things I've read here about ease of use and longevity of the parts. And if it's successful it's waaaay cheaper than having a system professionally installed.

I spent a long time on line looking at diagrams and videos and products, trying to figure out what might work best for my situation. Finally I called and discussed everything with a very knowledgable and helpful young man (at least he sounded young) who approved of my choices and added a few low-cost extra parts so I wouldn't be caught short at the last minute.

I got their basic kit, the large garden add-on which has a variety of emitters, a tool for inserting, lots of extra tubing, and some drip line tubing for areas it would be too hard to customize quickly. I also got a 2-valve timer which can be expanded to 4.

I had to expedite shipping because time is getting short- that was $$$$$. But better that than coming back in 6 weeks to a fried garden! So a week from Friday I'll be out there trying to put it all together.



Everett, WA(Zone 8a)


I'll try calling them to ask why some emitters have a sugegsted max prfessure of 30 psi. My city water is 45 psi.

Do the fittings blow apart, or just run too fast?

P.S. I'm trrying to decide what kind of sprinkler, sprayer or mister would be most gentle on 2-8 seed-starting trays. Probably misters arfe gentlest, but I didn't want to buy a 200 mesh filter. For $10-$15 I could buy 20-25 mist heads or many more spray heads. Maybe just replace them when they clog?

I figure city water, clean enough to drink, is clean enough for drip emitters. But misters are supposed to need a 200-mesh filter.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I'm curious what they'll say. Isn't that why they include a pressure regulator with the basic setup?

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Would anyone like to add any questions for when I do call?

1. Can I get away with 45 PSI unregulated, and what are the downsides?

2. Can I get away without a filter if I have clean city water, and I'm willing to take apart and clean any misters (Dripworks "MM") or drippers (Take-Apart Emitters, "DTA" or CETA PC Emitters, "DC1PC").

3. What do they reccomend for gentle sprinling or misting 2-8 seed-starting trays and small seedlings?

4. ???

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

1) I think you will be okay without a pressure regulator. I took off one of mine due to the long run of garden hose and I needed more flow. Downside? Maybe blow out one of the connectors? But I kind of doubt that will happen.

2) I'm sure you can get away without a filter. I think the filter is meant to catch major trash so it won't plug an emitter or other tiny part. The filter isn't going to help against hard water and if it did, then the flow would probably be greatly reduced.

3) Seems like a micro sprinkler should suffice but you may have to play with the timer to get the right amount of water to the seeds/seedlings. If it were cuttings then an intermittent timer would be a great addition.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> seed-starting trays and small seedlings?
>> Seems like a micro sprinkler should suffice

I think you're right. I went to a nursery/greenhouse wholesaler and bought a variety of mini-sprayers and low-pressure misters so I could try them out, THEN asked what he would reccomend for seed-starting. "Well, ANY of those." I guess those sprays are fairly fine, and by the time they travel through the air a short distance, they are going slowly enough not to disturb the soil (much).

My relatively-high-pressure water supply (45 psi) will be good for making a fine mist with most spray fittin gs.

On the other hand, a 12 foot diameter, 35 GPH roto-jet sprinkler is NOT what I want.

I also learned something obvious: sprayers with unusual bases may NOT be easy to adapt to 1/4" polyethylene tubing.

Ever hear of Dramm? They use "3/8" Witworth ♀ thread" plus a gasklet that needs you to drill a 7/16" hole in schedule 40 PVC pipe, NOT schedule 80 PVC pipe. Then suspend the PVC pipe 5-7 feet above the bench. Not really hobbyist-friendly. I think 10/32 and 10/24 threads are very standard and might exist and be cheap.

This message was edited Aug 16, 2012 7:35 PM

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

... much later ...

I found that almost any kin d of sprayer fitting puts out a fine enough spray or mist to water seedlings in inserts or propagation trays. The water particles are sm all, so the air slows them down by the time they reach to seedlings.

Every jet I tried put out a fine mist at 45 PSI! Sprayers still had reasonably small, gentle drop sizes at 20 PSI, but I only trieed low flow raqte jets.

Spinners, even small spinners, put out big, droplets at any pressure, and they are big FAST droplets at 45 PSI! I had to throttle thast with a vlave, and it still looked like it might knock over small seedlings or disturb the surface if a small seed was planted shallowly.

For seedling trays, use a sprayer, not a spinner. Maybe a mister would be even more gently, but I didn't need it.

I found that, at 45 PSI, the 10/32 threaded fitting for 1/4" hose don't hold at ALL in vinyl tubing, and only for a few minutes in black polyethylene tubing. They pop out, an d then you have a small diameter 40 foot jet fountain. NOT something you want to happen when you're on vacation and watering with a timer!

10/32 thread seems to hold OK in "Rigid Riser" tubing at 45 PSI.

Barbs seemed to hold OK in vinyl or black PE, even at 45 PSI, over very limited testing. The mailorder clerk just said "don't go over 30 PSI, they areen't FOR that" and "no guarantees".

At 20 psi, very limited testing says that 10/32 threads DO hold, even in vinyl 1/4" tubing. But I'm going to watch closely. It seems to me that the vinyl stretchs over time.

(Now that I look again, and closer, I see one vendor says "do not use vinyl tubing over 30 PSI".)

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> It would be nice to have a tool that holds the tee or barb so you could push the tubing over the exposed part.

I have a $17.50 tool for pushing barbs into " tubing, and it is overpriced. But it works fswirly well even if the tubing does tend to buckle unless I push just 1-2 mm at a time. i'll keep my eyes open for a $5 version that works well! Where did you buy yours, hcmcdole?

I'm going to find the right size Tygon tubing, with an ID just slightly less than the OD of " tubing. Then I'll glue and tie that to the jaws of a cheap pair of pliers or a big strong paper clamp. I figure that will create enough friction to hold onto the tubing, plus give me something to grip.

I also use a WW I spike bayonet with the tip polished to expand " tubing to make it easier. But I fear that may weaken the grip! It does seem to shrink back to its original size.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I've bought micro sprayers from many sources, and every source has a different color code for GPH. Now I check out the approximate GPH by blowing some air through the spray head, like a whistle. Especially if I puff in-and-out, I can tell how restrictive the orifice is.

I like the Antelco "cap and base" sprayers much better than any one-piece design I've seen. Even as low as 20 PSI, the single piece jet-sprays come out as a very fine spray (tending toward a mist". When there is any wind, even a mild breeze, a lot of the water blows away since it is in such fine droplets.

The two-piece Antelco "cap and base" sprayers have a cap with a finite number of slots or holes. The jet spray from the orifice seems to slow down as it goes through those, and comes out as 10, 12, 15, 18 or 22 "fingers" of fairly coarse droplets that travel farter at lower velocity than the "mist spray jets". It's like a "Shrubbler" but throws water a much greater distance in a finer stream.

There are 8 cap styles and 8 bases (8 flow rates), so you can assemble a wide variety of sprayers.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> I see someone else has found out the hard way on mixing half inch hoses since they are next to impossible to attach to an existing system unless they are from the same manufacturer.

It's slightly more expensive (two fittings instead of one fitting), but you can attach a hose-thread-end-fitting to each kind of " hose. Use Manufacturer A's fitting on hose type A, and Manufacturer B's fitting on hose type B. But all garden hose threads are compatible.

Then just screw the two systems together.

I did something like that to join my two zones together, so I can water both from the one timer. I put a hose fitting on each zone where it was closest to the other zone. Then I ran a regular garden hose from one fitting to the other. Due to poor planning, I needed a double-female hose end (Gender Bender) to make it come out right.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or register to post.

Upload Images to your reply

    You may upload up to 5 images