Setting Up an Automated Watering System

Setting Up an Automated Watering System
If your water feature is relatively small and your plantings are few, you may not need to concern yourself with watering. Breaking out the hose a couple times a week can be therapeutic.

If, on the other hand, you have a large water feature with dozens or even hundreds of plants spread out over a large area, you may be wise to set up an automated watering system. The good news is that it’s easier than you might have thought.

Watering systems come in two basic sizes. One uses half-inch plastic or PVC lines to deliver the water where you want it to go. Not surprisingly, this is referred to as a half-inch system. This is the type of system that most homes use to water their lawn, shrubs, and trees.

The second system uses quarter-inch plastic lines to deliver the water. In a stroke of unmitigated genius, the creators called it a quarter-inch system.
A half-inch system uses relatively expensive pop-up sprinkler heads and bubblers to deliver a lot of water in a short period of time wherever you need it most, which is usually on the lawn. While this type of system works well for most landscaping needs, you’re going to want to install a quarter-inch system around your pond because it’s quick, easy, efficient, less costly, and less noticeable than its larger cousin. It also uses only the precise amount of water required, which conserves natural resources.

To install a quarter-inch system, take stock of your watering needs. We installed three separate systems in order to service our three major ponds. One operates off a standard hose bib connected to the back of the house. The others (on either side of the house) come from a water line that we ran from the front hose bib and buried alongside the house.

We attached an electronic timer to each water source and hooked up a half-inch black landscaping hose to the bibs. We buried the half-inch lines in horseshoe configurations around our plantings, capping off their ends. Then we tapped into the lines with quarter-inch barbed connectors. To those, we hooked quarter-inch lines. At the end of the quarter-inch lines, we installed quarter-inch drippers or sprinklers, depending upon the water requirements of the plants in each specific area.

We repeated the process until all of the plants in our system were covered.

Now, whenever the timers come on (you can set them for time of day, frequency, and duration), water is pumped into the half-inch lines, where it radiates out through the spider-web of quarter-inch lines to the plants. We disguised the quarter-inch lines with moss, bark, baby tears, or whatever else was available.
Regardless of the weather, our plants are protected from drying out, all automatically.

If all this work sounds intimidating, relax. You can purchase just about everything you need to set up a quarter-inch watering system in a single kit. We chose to purchase our system piecemeal simply because no kit was large enough to handle all of our requirements. But, several different sizes of kits are available, and one may be just right for you. Some kits even include timers, and most are fairly affordable. They also come with detailed installation instructions.

You can find kits and individual elements at most home improvement centers, garden and landscape centers, and hardware stores.

Now, we’re secure in the knowledge that all of our plants are healthy. Our water features look great. And, best of all, we’re no longer slaves to watering!

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