Master Gardener: Do-it-yourself irrigation
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
If you spend your days dragging hoses to water your gardens on the days we’re allowed to water, then this PSA tidbit is for you.
That was me for seven years. We moved into our house in 2013, put in a new perennial bed along our front walk with the cardboard-lasagna method, and used plants from friends and the We Dig It! program. It’s a long bed, the length of our 40- to 50-foot walkway, and about 5 feet wide, so yes, that meant dragging hoses.
Over the next five years, our plants struggled. We kept the bed weeded, watered intermittently (I wasn’t into moving hoses) and told the plants to hang in there. We chose natives, so we hoped they wouldn’t need much water, but they’re plants. They struggled. The lawn went brown. The weeds took over.
We spent more of our time on our veggie gardens in the backyard, every year getting a little more efficient with the way we water (timer system, drip hoses, reducing to 1/4 piping, etc).
All the while, I watched, with much adoration, what one of my garden guru friends was doing in her yard downtown. On just 1/4 acre, her gardens have more bulbs and plants than the Yampa River Botanical Garden. Every year, she planted more. Every year, she improved her watering systems. Finally, this year, she helped us make a plan to replicate, on a much smaller level, what she has done.
This involved a B-Hyve wifi timer programming system, an Orbit 3-valve manifold, reducers from 1-inch pipe to 1/2-inch irrigation piping, three boxes of screw-clamps, a dozen elbow- and tee-shaped connectors, and five RainBird 360-degree sprayer heads.
The best part? It only took me a day to install, but only after we had about four to five sessions of planning, shopping (Home Depot, Lowes, Sprinkler Warehouse, Ace Hardware) and figuring out how the pieces would fit together — huge shout out to Cody at Ace Hardware for the true MacGyver-ing of PVC fittings and slip-pipe gluing. All-in, we spent about $500 on the system, mostly on the manifold and timer system. And even though this is new, I estimate we’re using about 25% of the water we were previously using. In a drought year (decade), it’s a priority we should all be considering.
So if you don’t have the budget for a professional job, and you’d rather spend your mornings sipping coffee and watching the hummingbirds instead of dragging hoses, consider DIY-ing your own irrigation system.
Andy Kennedy has been a Master Gardener since 2015 and has been an avid gardener since an internship in Urban Farming and Sustainability in 1996 in Dexter, Oregon. She’s been a resident of the Yampa Valley since 1998 and relishes research, new ideas and DIY projects.
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