During the height of summer, the job of watering the garden can seem never-ending, and half an hour after the hose has been put away the plants look dry again. By installing a soaker hose system around your garden, you can help to minimize the work involved.
You can limit the time spent watering by making sure the plants actually get the water intended for them, delivered to the place from which they can benefit most. This is particularly important if your water is metered.
Sprays may only soak the surface before the water starts to evaporate or run into the drains.
Low-level watering systems (pipes laid along the ground) delivers the water very close to the plants’ roots and requires only a low-pressure water supply. This means that large areas can be watered at low pressure, because the water only seeps out of the pipe when the pipe is full; this slow, steady delivery allows the water to penetrate the soil with little evaporation. This system can be activated by a timing device, so that the garden can be watered even when there is no one at home. Set it for dawn watering; night watering provides the ideal conditions for nocturnal slugs and snails.
In a larger garden, install the soaker hose in an area where I he plants are most vulnerable. To! avoid wasting water, you need to find ways to conserve water in the garden. Try to choose plants that survive with minimal watering. However, if you have a vegetable garden, for example, where regular and copious watering is essential, you will have to install a suitable watering system.
Remember to install a water butt so that you can catch any rainwater and deliver it to the areas or plants that need it most. For example, acid-loving plants in containers should he watered with rainwater rather than tap water if the latter has a lot of lime in it (you will know this if limescale is a problem).
Before switching on the system, check the pipe carefully.
It is important to even out
any twists or kinks in the pipe.
If these are left, the pipe will
“snake” or creep as it Jills with
water, or in some instances, water
flow may be restricted.
Watering the roots (above) A soaker hose system a/lows water to get straight to the plants’ roots, where it is most needed.
INSTALLING A SOAKER HOSE
Tools and materials
■ heavy-gauge plastic-coated wire
■ good-quality knife
■ broom handle
■ vice or work bench
■ soaker hose
■ timing device (optional)
1 Cut sections of heavy-gauge plastic-coated wire into 10 in. lengths. Bend these sections until they arc roughly straight and, using a broom handle and a vise or work bench, trap the middle of the wire to prevent it from moving.
2 Mend the wire around the broom handle twice to form a loose spiral, so that the top of the wire peg can be “threaded” over the soaker hose at any point along its length.
3 Thread the wire loops onto the seephose and lay out the piping to get the maximum amount of water possible to each plant (for established shrubs, position the pipe within 6-12 in. of the base).
4 Peg the pipe into position and connect it too water supply, such as a hose with
connectors. Gently turn on the lap to allow the water to flow through the pipes, and check carefully for any large, unintended leaks.
5 About two-thirds of the way along the run of pipe, insert a container into the soil below the pipe so that its rim is level with the soil surface. This can be used lo measure the water flow per hour, lifting up the container slightly to check.
6 To make the system fully automatic, a battery-powered liming device can be jilted lo the water supply. This will make it possible for the watering system to work even when you are on vacation.