Customizing an Irrigation System

Columbia, SC

I recently had an irrigation system installed in back and front yards. I live in Columbia SC and the heat has been blistering. My lawn and plants never would have survived without this. I asked the installer if I could add to the system as I added more plants, and he encouraged me to do it, and even brought me some basic supplies: 1/4 inch tubing, spray heads, emiters, etc. We have a Mediterranean look in the back yard with lots of potted plants along a set of wide steps. Today I figured out a way to create a string of adjustable spray heads along the pots going up each side of the staris. I have a tube that fits into the bottom side of the lower channel on the iron railings and from this I added a series of T fittings with short tubes connecting to each spray head for each pot. I am now able to adjust the water going into each pot so I won't have water going all over the place. I have a fountain nearby and it needs to be filled frequently. I am going to try using a tube that slips into the back of the fountain basin and will fill it every other day automatically. In the front of the house we have window boxes on the second story and it is more trouble than it is worth to move furniture, open windows, and water with a water can. I bought some beige tubing that I'm planning to bring up to the window boxes so those get watered every other day. Again, I'll use adjustable spray heads or emiters so I can control how much water these plants get. I bought a few things at but most everything you need is at Lowes. Don't look just in the gardening department; a lot of the irrigation parts are in plumbing.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Pretty much every home center I've ever been in has the drip irrigation stuff by the plumbing rather than by the garden center, I have no idea why they do that, but they all seem to do it that way. I'll sometimes find the timers that hook up to the faucet by the garden center, but the tubing and other pieces parts seem to always be in the plumbing aisle.

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

Yes and most of the people at these places don't know where it is. I stopped in sutherlands first they didn't carry drip supplies or systems, then hd didn't carry, ace hdwr didnt have lowe's did in the plumbing. then when i looked in sutherlands they had in the plumbing. very important to know because most store associates don't.

Long Beach, CA(Zone 10a)

If you are going to run a drip system up to your second story window boxes, etc, you may encounter a problem with water pressure if your control valves are at ground level and depending on the condition of your plumbing...(if it's older galvanized pipe, it may be full of sediment which will have a decreasing effect on your pressure...if it's copper pipe, it should be ok ).

Sometimes it can be difficult to get water to go UP if you don't have adequate pressure at the connection source down below.

We have done this successfully on upstairs ledges etc. by tapping off a cold water line from an upstairs bathroom or a hose bib on a balcony (if you happen to have one). It takes a bit of maneuvering, but in the end is infinitely easier than using watering cans. or dragging hoses through windows, etc.

Long Beach, CA(Zone 10a)

Refilling fountains can be a real pain if they tend to lose a lot of water because of dripping etc. and it seems you are constantly having to adjust pumps etc. and replacing water with a hose etc.

I have 3 5gallon bottled water "bottles" hidden behind the wall where my small fountain is...which are always on a gravity drip...using the 1/4 inch drip can control the drip by the valve to accomadate the loss. When one gets empty, I just switch it to the next bottle and so forth. It save a lot of time and isn't a mess to deal with.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Just want to add my 2 cents here - don't mix different (manufacturers) drip systems - mainly the supply tubing. HD uses a couple different suppliers and Lowes has something different. Anyway I bought a drip system from HD to begin with and thought it was so great that I wanted to add to it. HD was out so I bought a system from Lowes. The main tubing has a different inner diameter and would not squeeze on the other system's "T" fitting. I had to split the tubing and use clamps to make it work. What a pain in the rump. So at the house we are in now, I buy the same maker's system so they fit together without a lot of extra fuss.

The spaghetti tubing is probably different too (been a number of years from my first installation) but as long as you keep the misters/emitters that came with it together, then you can punch it on the other system.

Columbia, SC

I wish I had read this last advice earlier. The basic system is Rainbird and the irrigation installer brought me more of that. But when I went to look for different color spaghettin tubing I found myself outside the Rainbird realm and then bought some other fittings. I will watch for incompatibilities and at least know if there are any what the problem is.

The advice on possible problems of pumping water up to the second story is worrisome. The pipes inside the house are all new copper. I'll have to check on the service between street and house. There is water nearby in the bathroom between the two window boxes, but I cannot imagine a clean way to get at it without a mess on the front wall of the house. I may try with the tubing and just see how it works but not go the the trouble of a full installation (i.e., attaching tubes to walls etc.) until I see that it works.

we're not going to be using a watering can every other day, and it would require at least that in our summer climate. My wife has even talked about artificial flowers. Never! Wish me luck.


Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

as long as you keep your measurements right , should be interchangeable.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I've mixed and matched tubing and fittings and haven't had any problems (yet at least!). Definitely something to pay attention to, but there are some that you can mix and be just fine.

Columbia, SC

Today I pulled out all my various fittings, tubings, and ladders, and went at it. I found the end of my underground sprinkler sytem had a flexible, that is not pvc, tube, and decided to insert a T in that. OK, the T worked perfectly for the two ends of the underground tube but was too small for the drip line I was attaching. For now I decided on a quick fix: electrical tape around the T stub, and a stainless steel clamp. It is water tight and will work for now. Sometime later, I may go back and do that correctly. it requires a pvc reducer, I believe.

Then the more challenging part. The drip line I added was about 15 feet long. I attached the 1/4 inch tan tubing (from Lowes) I had bought to more or less match the house, and then brought it up about 20 feet to the eves. Using clamps to secure it to the wall, I brought it up the side to the eves, then around the corner and along the front of the house, fitting the tube on the lower edge of the even moulding. I wanted to reach both window boxes so I added a T to the tube as it went over the first window box, bringing it behind the shutter, then strung it over to the second window box and brought it down behind the shutter. Be darned if it doesn't work! It emits a decent flow of water and blends in pretty well with the house. It was hard work, but if this will keep plants watered and growing in difficult to access upstairs window boxes, it will be worth it.


This message was edited Oct 27, 2007 8:24 AM

Chesapeake, VA(Zone 7a)

Just my two cents worth. Since your water supply comes from your meter and it is located on the ground level would you run into problems if you can adequately fill your bath tub or a sink upstairs? Most of the drippers I see have a pressure reducer in front of the heads. Maybe you can raise the pressure to compensate for running something to the second story. I would tee off with a separate reducer though as you wouldn't wont to raise the pressure to the rest of the system.

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