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Plant Irrigation Systems

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Plant Irrigation Systems

Old 25th Jul 2020, 20:02
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Plant Irrigation Systems

I've been looking at reasonably priced garden plant water irrigation systems. Normally the 'named' ones are a sure thing, but user reviews are very mixed. Can anyone recommend a system that does what it's meant to without costing too much ?
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Old 25th Jul 2020, 20:09
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Rain ....
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Old 25th Jul 2020, 20:18
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I've just put one together purchased from the big River. It's a Chinese import, not very costly. It came with a variety of nozzles and droppers. A 3/4 inch length of clear hose approx 2m in length and 2 20m micro hoses along with tee pieces, connectors and end stops. Oh, yes and the piece de resistance was the chinglish instruction sheet! Flippinf useless.
Anyway it is being used to irrigate 4 raised beds from a water butt; took an hour or two to work out what I wanted where and to actually assemble it. All micro tubes are push fit, got the blister on my thumbs as a result.
All ready to go, but Mrs Q had emptied the butt so waiting for tonight's predicted thunderstorms to refill it ready to test tomorrow
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Old 25th Jul 2020, 20:28
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I've run a drip system in my back garden for 15 years. We get very little rain, so the irrigation is what keeps everything alive. Several hundred drippers by now, all on a timer.

Just buy the 1/4 inch drip line and cobble it together with T-'s, etc. Make sure your drippers finish up above ground enough so you can see them. You need to be able to see when they plug, in time to replace the dripper. It's an ongoing task.
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Old 25th Jul 2020, 20:30
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Worth noting the timers are as expensive as the irrigation system but probably well worthwhile
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Old 25th Jul 2020, 20:38
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Over the years I have used a number of irrigation systems both in the UK & Spain.
In fact before this 30 years ago I made a system up using a mains CH timer and an old washing machine solenoid valve which worked well for years!

But on a practical level the Claber basic dial operated timers have proved the most robust over the years.
Being a bit techie I did try a couple of electronic alternatives but they proved unreliable and sooooo fiddly to setup.

The basic Claber model is so easy to setup, it just gives you a few options of xyz minutes once or twice a day. The only constraint is that you must trigger it in real time (ie if you want it to turn on at 5 in the morning you have to get up early!)
Uses pp9 batteries which last for months.
In the UK I do not use it in the depth of winter because of the possibility of freezing causing damage.
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Old 25th Jul 2020, 20:56
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I've used a system called 'Autopot" for gawd knows how many years. It's a self-contained, expandable system attached to a reservoir (mine is a 100 litre tank - I'm thinking of upgrading to a 210 Litre tank). There is a cistern valve in the bases which regulates how much water is used. Just top-up the reservoir occasionally and stop worrying about the plants drying out. It's a cost-effective system and the after-sales service is brilliant if you want to expand the system or need replacement parts.
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Old 25th Jul 2020, 22:20
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Tip:

In UK you pay more for sewage than water. When you use an irrigation system using mains water you have less sewage. Speak with your water company.

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Old 25th Jul 2020, 22:25
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Some years ago we had a Hozelock irrigation system which fell into disuse/disrepair. This year I decided as I was getting on top of the destruction wrought upon my garden by my four boys, it was time to resurrect and extend it. I started off buying a Chinese kit from the Big River, only to find that the connectors and joints were too big (16mm stamped on them) for the 13mm pipe that came with the kit. Some of the "4mm" fittings were also too big for the 4mm pipe, but the pipe and the emitters (drippers) were all useful. I then discovered Antelco (Australian) and I then discovered Growinsane as a supplier. My advice is to stick to Antelco pipe and fittings, wherever you get it from.

I am on the penultimate phase of the extension, the new vegetable patch. The final phase will be the two flower beds and these will be irrigated with a separate system using 13mm leaky pipe, everything else is using drippers.

I've spent a small fortune on this LOL

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Old 25th Jul 2020, 23:09
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I top up my reservoir from the barrels which capture the rain water off my garage roof. Not a penny goes to the water utility.
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Old 25th Jul 2020, 23:41
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Like obgraham, nothing except maybe cactus would grow here without irrigation. We have a multi-zone system with several zones for grass and some for plant beds. Each zone drives, via a solenoid valve, a 0.5" pipe that runs along the back of the beds. That is tapped as and where needed for 1/4" tubes that go to individual drips and sprayers. You can run many drips off a single tap but only a couple of sprayers, otherwise there isn't enough pressure. I've bought all the bits and pieces as needed from True Value, and keep a small stock for minor changes and fixes. Squirrels regularly nibble the tubes.

Be careful when choosing a controller. The ideal would be something using wifi and a web interface, similar to a Nest thermostat, but I'm not aware of one. If you have time on your hands you could easily enough put something together using a Raspberry Pi Zero W or similar.

Most of them have truly awful ergonomics. The best we have has two rotary dials for each zone, for when and how long. That doesn't seem to be made any more. When we moved in there was one that had four arrows arranged in the usual way. They were labelled something like '*', '>', '^' and '!'. It was impossible to make the slightest change without the manual in hand, and even then it was a challenge.
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Old 26th Jul 2020, 08:39
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I installed a Claber drip system a few years ago, complete with their timer unit. It's been very reliable, the only maintenance has been to periodically clean one or two of the drippers that have got clogged up plus changing the timer battery every year or so. Not ludicrously expensive, I bought the kit that has 60 drippers, an additional length of feeder pipe and the timer and I think the whole lot came to around 200 from Screwfix. The timer is easy to use and we rarely ever touch it. I did fit a second outside tap below the existing one, on the same pipe, so that we can keep the irrigation system connected all the time. We turn it off during the winter, and turn the tap off that supplies the system, and this year I'm trying one of those very long life lithium PP3 batteries, to see if that will run the unit for longer than the ~year and a half that a standard one manages.
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