One upgrade that I’ve installed in my garden is drip irrigation, this in combination with a timer, allows for a hands-off approach to watering. I find this very helpful when things are busy at work, or it’s time for a vacation. Drip irrigation delivers the water directly to the roots of the plant which can help to reduce some diseases.
Each of my raised beds has a header line which the drip tape extends from. The drip tape is spaced approximately 8 to 10 inches apart, which means that my three-foot-wide beds have three runs. For each header, I have added a shut-off valve so that the bed can be individually turned on or off. This is especially helpful at the beginning and end of the season when the garden is not full. If you have a more traditional in ground garden, you would still want to consider what zones you may want to control individually.
To connect all of the raised beds to the water supply, I have a solid poly hose which is under the mulched pathways. There are tees which allow it to branch to supply each bed. When building my raised beds I considered the routing of my main water supply lines and drilled holes for the hose to enter at the bottom. This could also be done ouside the raised bed if you have an established garden already.
Depending on the system you select, you may need to add things such as a filter and pressure regulator. This ensures that you are delivering clean water at the right pressure to the drip lines.
In my experience drip irrigation does an excellent job of deep watering, however when direct sowing seeds they can benefit from some hand watering. Often in the spring I will turn off the beds which have been just seeded and hand water these until they are established. This has resulted in better germination.
Adding a water timer to your system helps to automate the watering and make things easier with a busy schedule. Many water timers will allow you to select when and for how long you would like to water. Another feature I find helpful is a rain delay, which you can select to shift back the timing if you’ve had a good amount of rain. I find the timer a great addition to the watering system.
I purchased the components to make my drip irrigation system from Dubois Aginovation. They have some premade kits such as this one, which help to provide guidance on all of the components needed.
A drip irrigation system is a great upgrade to add to your established garden. It is also something to keep in mind if you are starting and planning a new garden for future additions. Happy Gardening!