Rain Barrel with Drip Irrigation

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Old 04-20-11, 12:26 PM
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Rain Barrel with Drip Irrigation

I'm not sure this is the best forum for this question - if it's not, please let me know and I'll repost where it should belong.

I want to add a rain barrel or two and run a drip irrigation system off of it.

I want to water plants in a bed that's about 75 feet long by 5 feet wide. The ground is pretty level except for maybe a 8 -12 inch drop from the top of the 5 foot wide side to the bottom of the 5 foot wide side. There are going to be close to 100 plants in the bed (shrubs, flowers, and a couple of small compact trees).

From what I've been reading, most drip systems require at least 10 PSI. Even if I get the barrel(s) 3 or so feet off the ground, I still think that I'll only have 3 or 4 PSI to work with in the best case scenario.

I'd prefer drip irrigation but I'm not sure the plants at the far end of the run are going to get any water due to lack of pressure. Would a soaker hose work better for me? What are my best options? Are there any very low pressure drip systems that would work for me?

Thanks for your help!
 
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Old 04-20-11, 02:11 PM
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Pressure may be one problem, but your biggest nemesis will be unfiltered water. All the crud off the roof (if that is where it comes from) will be in the barrel, so somehow it needs to be filtered and purged to keep clean water flowing and the emitters from stopping up.
 
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Old 04-20-11, 02:17 PM
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Thanks for that. I do plan on having a large mesh filter (like a piece of window screen) at the top of the barrel to filter the water from the downspout, and another filter inline at the spigot on the bottom of the barrel (the drip irrigation companies sell them for a couple of bucks). Also, the spigot will be about 8 inches up from the bottom of the barrel so a lot of the "crud" should settle to the bottom.
 
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Old 04-20-11, 02:30 PM
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And don't forget...as the level drops in the barrel, there goes your pressure. I guess if theres a pressure regulator of some sort so you can set everything at the minimum it would work?
 
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Old 04-21-11, 09:46 PM
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That's a good idea - to set a regulator the the minimum expected pressure - I researched a LOT over the last day or two and couldn't find a regulator that would go down that low, though.

After my research I learned a few things that I'll post here - maybe it'll help the next guy:

* My PSI figures are probably wrong. I think at 2 or 3 feet off the ground I'll be lucky to see 2 PSI (taking friction into account) - and that's with a full barrel (you get .433 PSI for each foot of elevation on a gravity fed water system).
* The emitters closest to the barrels will get the most water. The emitters furthest from the barrel will see the least - or no water.
* You can even the system out by running your main line to the middle of the area to be watered and then tee off from the middle (so you'd have two or more shorter runs).
* If you can set up a "grid" or "closed loop" system, you'll get the most even water pressure throughout.
* You won't be able to use a normal off the shelf battery operated timer to automate your watering. You need a low pressure timer. If you Google, you can find them.
 
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Old 04-22-11, 08:29 AM
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Just wanted to tell you what I have and how it has worked so far, couldn't be a more simple set up. I have two large 30gal barrels joined together, each one has a faucet at the bottom and the drip system hose is attached to both faucets. When I run the drip system I turn on both faucets. This feeds 50ft along the side of the house (6 shrubs) and turns the corner for another 35ft across the front (15 shrubs, trees & flowers) It is purely gravity feed and the farthest plants get just as much water as the ones close to the barrels. It surprised me how well this worked. The barrels themselves sit on cinder block about a foot off the ground. Hope yours works as well as mine has!
 
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Old 04-22-11, 11:57 AM
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Thanks, Jo-Deville - that's really encouraging. How level is your system? Pretty flat across the whole run or are the barrels much higher than the last plant (other than them sitting up on blocks).

Also, can you tell me more about your system? What kind of piping or hose did you use from the barrels out to the beds and how thick is it? What kind of emitters are you using?

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me!
 
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