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How To Set Up Your Own Watering System

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One of the essential keys to tree and shrub health is ensuring they get the water they need. You can make it easier for yourself if you install a watering system in your yard.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Depends on system chosen and size of garden.

Here's How:

  1. Choose Your Watering System Type

    There are three basic kinds of watering systems - hoses, sprinklers, and drip irrigation. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages.

    Hoses are the cheapest and easiest. However, they require you to spend time moving the hoses around to ensure all areas are watered. They also can waste too much water.

    Sprinklers allow you to water an entire yard at once. They are more expensive to install. If the spray hits the trunks, root rot can occur.

    Drip irrigation is the most efficient, as water only falls where it is needed. It can be expensive and the system may clog, though.

  2. Draw Out Your Yard

    Once you have chosen the system to use, draw your yard out onto a piece of graph paper. Have each square represent one to ten feet (depending on the size of your yard) so you can draw all trees, shrubs, and plants to scale. This will allow you to keep track of your watering area size requirements. Indicate the locations of any utility lines present underground. Call 811 to have your utility lines marked if you do not know the locations.

  3. Map Out Your Zones

    When you map out your watering zones, you can make sure that water isn't wasted. This step is especially important when setting up systems to water trees. Young trees should be watered at their base, as the roots have not had time to spread and establish themselves yet. Mature trees, on the other hand, should never be watered near their trunk. Instead, water at the dripline.

    Using your scaled yard drawing, find the areas that need to be watered. Determine how many sprinkler heads, hoses, or drip irrigation emitters you will need to adequately cover each watering zone.

  4. Go Shopping For Parts

    Now that you have mapped out your zones and determined what parts you need, it's time to go shopping. You can find your supplies at nurseries, garden centers, sprinkler stores and home improvement stores. Good stores will have guides available for putting your drip or sprinkler systems together.

  5. Lay Out Your System on the Ground

    It is a good idea to lay everything out before you start putting it together. You may have accidentally forgotten something at the store or miscalculated the amount needed. Ensure that all parts are present.

  6. Put the System Together

    For sprinklers, you will need to dig trenches to lay the pipes in. The depth will vary on your area, depending on how much frost you get. Be sure to work around any utility lines.

    Drip emitters can be placed on stakes right next to the dripline. The tubes can be covered with mulch to hide them from view. You can also use soaker hoses and hide them from view with mulch.

  7. Test the System Out

    Now that you have put your watering system together, you need to test it out to ensure it is working properly. Watch to see if all sprinklers and/or drip emitters are functioning. Make sure your hose is not leaking.

  8. Set your Timers

    Once you have made sure that your new watering system is working right, set any timers to the watering schedule you would like to use. You may have to adjust it as plants grow or if you notice that the plants are getting too much or too little water.

What You Need

  • Graph paper
  • Tape measure
  • Drip irrigation parts
  • Hoses
  • Sprinklers
  • PVC Pipe
  • Timers
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