POMP RATING: 🌵🌵🌵🌵🌴
FACTORS INFLUENCING RATING: Level of difficulty is medium, frustration can be high. ☹ This is a tedious process, and there are water lines that need to be hidden. ☹ This can get rather expensive if you have a lot of plants to water. ☹ Many, many trips to the home improvement store are necessary. ☹ You will not have to water your plants. 😊 Your plants will be amazing and lush. 😊 When you leave town, your plants will be watered. 😊
You will feel so accomplished once it’s done. 😊
Why Would Anybody Do This?
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Installing drip irrigation was just that. My husband had to figure this one out as he went along; all I knew was that I wanted all of my window boxes and hanging baskets watered on a drip irrigation system because they were constantly drying out. I love the look of window boxes and lush ferns, but I could never really stay on top of the watering. And, when we went out of town, I always came home to dead, dried out plants that needed replacing.
Another reason I really wanted drip irrigation is because I wanted window boxes on high windows- like on the second floor of our house- and there was no way to reach some of them to get them watered. I will describe how we installed the “drip irritation”, as my husband refers to this project still to this day. I will tell you it was a tough and frustrating period in our marriage. But now, five years later, we would both say that it was well worth it, and we have some of the prettiest window boxes around because of it. If you only have one or two boxes to water, this project will be much easier for you and your relationship. I have easily over 15 boxes and baskets on drip irrigation, so my marriage almost ended over it.
Medium sized tubing
Tacks (optional for tacking tubing to the house or porch floor)
Batteries for the timer
Splitter for the spigot (optional)
How to Get Started
This project, if you have a lot of plants to water, will take some time. Don’t expect it to get done in a day. You will need to look at where your window boxes are located, and then locate the nearest water spigot to those boxes. Write down some measurements. Your main water line will begin at the spigot and travel all the way to each of your boxes in a medium size tube that you buy from the home improvement store. For ours, we bought a two-way splitter so that we could run the tubing in two different directions from the spigot. You may need to consider buying a splitter if you have several boxes that are relatively spread out.
You will also need to purchase a timer that hooks up to your spigot. We bought a battery powered timer, and it works well. I can’t stand the look of wires or tubing against my house or the floor, so we needed to purchase small tacks to hold the tubing in place neatly against the house or floor. I also painted the tubing in the color of my house or porch floor so it would blend in better.
Using the Bubblers and Connectors
In addition to the medium sized tubing, possibly a splitter, and the timer, you will need the small tubing (this is the tubing that comes off the main tubing and goes into the actual window box). From there you will need a bubbler and the stakes that hold them in place. The bubbler is the cute little sprinkler head that the water comes out of into your box. I needed four bubblers for each of my boxes, because mine are very wide. You’ll need to assess the types of plants you have, the size of your boxes, and how dry they get to decide how many bubblers you need to buy. Finally, there are connectors that connect the medium size tubing to the smaller tubing. You will also need scissors for trimming the flexible tubing, and a lot of patience, and possibly some alcohol and a marriage counselor on call. Seriously.
When You Are Done
This is the part that is when you get past the prickly stage and it’s finished and you’re feeling super proud of yourself. I’ll tell you, when those little bubblers first came on and watered my plants, I was so happy I almost cried. My husband felt excited, too, and we high-fived each other and hugged, and we weren’t mad at each other anymore. It was a feeling of absolute satisfaction, and we were world-beaters. Then, about a month later when we saw how lush our plants looked and how that totally enhanced the aesthetic of our house, well, we were just so happy all over again. Worth the aggravation? Yes, yes, and yes! This is most definitely something that I would do again, and I think my husband would agree.
Setting the Timer
So, how do you know how long to set your timers to water? Really, it just depends on the type of plants you are watering and the location of the box. If it is in direct sunlight, you’ll need to water them longer and more frequently to keep them from drying out. We have ours set for morning and evening, twice per day. I think they water for about 2-3 minutes. This part is trial and error. You can adjust the bubblers to water more or less by twisting them with your hand. Also, you can expect to replace the timer every few years because as my husband says, everything mechanical will break over time. Batteries need to be changed often on the timers as well, and most of the time the thing that tips us off that they need replacing is that our plants start to look dry. Then we realize the timer isn’t working.
Good To Know
The first time our neighbors noticed the plants being watered, they called us in a panic because they thought we had a major plumbing issue! It really looks like that when suddenly you see water draining out of the bottom of the boxes. It kind of looks like water is coming out of the windows from afar. We haven’t had any real trouble out of the drip irrigation since we installed it about five years ago. When our window boxes upstairs get watered, the excess water drips down onto the porch roof and trickles from there onto the ground, making it look like it is raining.
To me, that is a nice little bonus, because I love to sit on the porch and watch my plants being watered – so much nicer than slaving over a water hose to water the plants, then having to re-wrap the hose onto the hose reel. Truthfully, if you start looking around town and see some super lush window boxes that have you scratching your head wondering how they “grow their plants like that”, look closely and you’ll probably notice a drip irrigation system attached to it. You can always message me with questions if you decide to attempt this project, and I really think you should. Good luck, and I’m here for you! You can do this.