You can take advantage of several different methods of drip irrigation to reduce your water usage and benefit your plants. The concept is simple---drip irrigation allows you to water your plants slowly, directly at their roots. It keeps the ground moist but not soggy. Depending on the flow rate of emitters you choose to use, you can deliver one or more gallons of water per hour to your plants. You can keep it simple or you can get fancy by using inline sprinklers, misters and other gadgets sold commercially for drip systems. Beginners can purchase a drip irrigation kit or simply use soaker hoses spread throughout the garden.
Using a Drip Irrigation System
Keep it simple by purchasing a drip irrigation kit. It will include all of the pieces you need and will help you to learn how to set up a drip system. Kits are available in different sizes, so determine how many square feet your garden area covers and buy a kit that will cover that area.
Set up your system by following instructions that are included with your kit. You will lay the main line (usually 1/2-inch black plastic tubing) and then punch holes where you want your emitters located, next to each plant in your garden.
Install all other parts included with your drip kit. These will include a vacuum breaker, hose connector and pressure regulator that you connect to a hose or directly to a faucet.
Install a timer to your hose connection to ensure that your plants receive the correct amount of water on a regular basis. This can help to stop the "drench and dry out" cycle that hand watering causes.
Use soaker hoses if you want a really simple drip-type system. These hoses "weep" water and are usually sold in 50-foot lengths. Snake them through your garden area and connect them to a faucet. You can experiment with the length of time needed to thoroughly water your plants, but generally, run your soakers for 30 to 60 minutes at least once per week.