setting up soaker/drip system - Knowledgebase Question

Reno, Ne
Question by moonshadoesd
May 7, 2008
Hi - I am planning on planting two long rows of a combination of aspens, climbing wisteria and honeysuckle along a five foot, welded wire fence. My soil is previous lake bottom; it is fairly rich already, although there is more clay about two feet down; I am planning to put starter mulch in as well as bark on top for mulching and water conservation. I live on a high desert plain in northwestern Nevada; sagebrush where I am, but mountains right nearby. How would you suggest placing a drip/soaker system?

Answer from NGA
May 7, 2008


Setting up a drip system is fairly straight-forward. You'll need a length of tubing (generally sold in a coiled up package - unroll it and let it set in the sun to soften and make it easier to manage). Lay the tubing on the ground and punch holes near the spot where you want the water to flow. Attached a feeder hose and pop on an emitter. Emitters come in all kinds of sizes, designed to deliver one-half gallon (gph), 1 gallon, 2 gallon, etc. I'd choose the 1-gallon emitters for your shrubs. They may not need that much water when you first plant them, but as they grow they will. You can compensate for the larger emitter by reducing the time the system is turned on. As the plants grow and need more water, you can run the system longer. Use the plastic stakes to raise the emitters just slightly above ground level to keep debris from clogging them. Once the system is in place and working, hand dig a shallow trench to set all the tubing in, then cover it up with soil and place your bark mulch over the top. You might also consider laying weed block over the top of the soil and then laying your bark mulch - it just depends on how much weeding you're willing to do in the planting bed.

Determining how long to run the system, and how often, really depends upon how thirsty your plants are and how well your soil drains. Start by running the system for 15 minutes and then checking to see how deep the water goes. Your goal is 12-18" into the soil (that's where the roots will be concentrated). Wait 3-4 days then check the soil moisture level again. You want some moisture still there, but you don't want the soil to remain soggy wet for any length of time. You may need to run the system twice in a day (for a total of 30 minutes) every 3-4 days to accomplish your goal. In the summertime, you may need to run the system every other day.

Best wishes with your project!

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