The West is in a bit of a drought this year, NW Oregon not excluded. In spite of the fact that water falls quite frequently from the sky, our warm winter has left us with no snow pack. This is working out great for me- I now have a valid excuse not to water my lawn this summer. It’s not a great lawn anyway, and now it’s quite yellow. So I decided to pep up my home’s curb appeal with with some hanging flower baskets on my porch.
PROBLEM: This has never worked out for me before; I just cannot remember to water them on a daily basis and usually end up with sad little baskets of death instead, matching sad dead lawn.
SOLUTION: A micro-drip irrigation system on a timer.
Yes. I’m a genius. I know.
So I bought this product for $11.97 at the big orange store:
It comes with everything you need set up a direct water feed for your hanging and/or patio plants.
And also these items, $26 for the timer and wayyy too much for the hose splitter (it’s a piece of crap).
I installed the hose splitter and then connected in-line: the timer, backflow preventer, micro tube adapter. Then connected the tube into the adapter. You really just shove it in and it stays in place. I then attached the tube to the siding near the hose bib with one of the included clips (nailed into siding.)
Then ran the tubing up the wall and across the porch cover.
This was the point where I started adding my barbed T-connectors. The tubing is pretty tight and takes a bit of muscle to get the barbs inserted into it. THIS IS GOOD because it means that once the tubing is on, it’s staying on.
I used a heat gun to make the tubing more pliable and me less angry about it.
Next, I measured the length of the patio cover, it’s 22 feet. I had decided on a total of five hanging baskets so 22ft/5=52 inches (and some change). I made 4 marks 52 inches apart on the beam (creating 5 zones each 52″ long), then placed marks in the middle (26″) of each length where the baskets will hang.
I connected the left end tubing into the main T from the crossing tube, it did not require it’s own T since it is on an end and simply terminates in a dripper.
At this point I went inside to connect the remaining lengths of tubing for the run and their subsequent drip tubes with T’s. From the right of the main T needed 11″ of tube to the next hanger mark, then a T (with a tube and dripper hanging from it) then two runs of 52″ of tubing (each connected by a T with a tube/dripper combo), final run for the right end was 60″ of tubing, again terminating in a dripper.
Had a beverage and measured all my lengths of tube and connected (as they would hang on beam) with T’s and drippers and used heat tool to expand tubing end.
It’s important when using the heat tool that you make sure the tool is on a lower setting (if yours has settings) and always keep it moving so nothing melts or burns (mainly your fingers).
This operations requires “hot hands”. Hot hands are useful for things like grabbing a loaf of hot bread out of the oven, or handling baked potatoes. If you don’t have HH’s submersing the tubing in warm water will also work.
Now to install the tube-assembly on the beam.
I started using the tube clips (with built-in brad nail), but the system only comes with 10 and I knew I was going to run out. My first substitute was a two-brad “staple” but that pinched the tubing which was going to adversely affect my water flow.
I ended up using a combination of staples fastened horizontally as a “hanger” to which I attached the tubing with a tiny zip tie
and also 7/8″ brad nails, driven at a 45 degree angle with a zip tie around tube and nail.
Of the three types of fasteners, I liked the simplicity of the naked brad nail the best. The clips that come with the system keep the tubes on the wall but don’t stop them from slipping around so I ended up using zip ties on those as well.
As a cabling technician, I have deep affection for zip ties.
Here’s how it looks from the street.
And here is the timer unit with adapter.
I ran into an issue with the backflow restrictor, it leaked no matter what I did (plumbing tape, extra O-ring, extra gasket). I looked this problem up on the Dig website troubleshooting guide and it says water leakage is normal particularly if the system of lines is higher than the valve. So I left it off for now (you can see the puddle) and I’ll either extend the hose bib over to the yard to the right or maybe research a valve that doesn’t flood my sidewalk. But the drippers work and nothing else leaks!
Now I’m ready for my baskets and will no longer be a plant murderer. When I test the timer I’ll post an update.
The whole installation took me about three hours and I did it alone. The system is expandable so I can install window boxes as well and connect a second line with a T connector.
Try it! Tell me about it!
***Update on backflow preventer**
I read reviews about this particular plastic backflow device and they are not supposed to leak until after water shuts off, and then not very much . Apparently the plastic ones are prone to cracking. A brass unit was recommended and that’s what I’m going to get.