Automated sprinkler systems aren't just for golf courses and large landscapes. With moderate cost and some basic know-how, any gardener can install a microirrigation system to deliver water to containers, flowerbeds and even hanging baskets. The following article discusses how to install a microsprinkler - a basic system that requires no water pressure calculations, trenches across your landscape or significant expense - for delivering the right amount of water to your contained plants and small garden.
Installing a microsprinkler involves a basic valve to control the system, flexible hosing, simple connections and planting the sprinklers or drip emitters to your desired locations. While an elaborate plan is not necessary, you should first assess your patio or garden area to determine how much hosing will be needed. Kits and individual parts can be purchased online or from local garden and home improvement centers. Kits are wonderful containing all the necessary parts; they may even have more than you need. Alternatively, you may discover that you need more tubing or sprinklers than the kit contains, so those extras may need to be purchased separately.
If you've never seen a kit before, don't get nervous! It is not as complicated as it might first appear; in fact, it will only demand a few hours of your time to install the whole system. Each part has an exact function and is easy to install. In addition to parts just mentioned, you will need a controller, a punch tool to poke holes in the tubing, fittings, stakes and spray heads (drip emitters if you choose that method). A pair of scissors or garden shears will be necessary to cut the hoses. Some spray heads will disperse water in a bow-tie formation, a full circle of spray, a half or quarter circle of spray and the drip head will simply dribble drops to its location.
Depending on the size of your tubing and the type of kit you choose, fittings may be as simple as pushing the tube into place while other types simply need a tightened nut to fasten it into position. You can lay out your tubing according to your garden's needs. Consider running it beneath a layer of mulch allowing it to rest on your top soil. Don't be surprised if you need to move things a bit to get your system into precise place. Most containers only require one sprinkler or drip emitter, but a very large pot or barrel will probably need two installed on either side. Larger garden areas will naturally require several sprinklers.
Emitters can be installed directly into the tubing for the case of a hanging plant. Simply run your hose up and into the basket and poke your emitter right into the line. If you find that you’ve poked holes in wrong places, you can reseal the tubing with some plugs available for just that purpose. Generally, you will want to run your hosing into a stake and fit your sprinkler onto the stake. A couple of these interspersed in your flowerbed or herb garden will do the trick. You can run hoses and sprinklers to porch plants and window boxes as well. Because the tubing is so narrow and the parts are small, they are quite easy to camouflage.
The controller will allow you to automate watering times. The control valve runs on batteries. Gardeners may set the device to turn on the water and turn it off at the same times every day. This is ideal for working gardeners and for times when gardeners are on vacation. Also, control valves contain backflow prevention so the household water stays safe from contamination. For gardeners who want to install more complicated watering patterns, a programmable timer is also available to work with these systems.
The whole system will then flow right out from your outdoor water faucet making for a simple water delivery system for your garden. Because the hoses are exposed, you will periodically want to check to be sure an animal hasn't knocked something out of place. Also, be sure to check for kinks in the hoses which could dramatically impact your water flow. Still, as the hoses are above ground, they are easy to move should you find it necessary to situate them in another spot.
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