Watering system for raised beds: surface or buried?

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by Gabriolan, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. Gabriolan

    Gabriolan Active Member 10 Years

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    Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
    We've finally built some raised beds for veggies, and for a few flowers. Now we have to figure out what kind of watering system to set up for the raised beds. We need to have something that can work on a timer for when we go away for a few days or a week. And a watering system will make things easier when we're home, too, right?

    Our raised beds are about 30 inches tall. (For ergonomic reasons.) They've got gravel and sand on the bottom parts, and topsoil on the top.


    Is it better to have a system (you know, tubes or hoses) that will go along the surface of the soil, between the plants, or is it better to have a system that is buried in the raised beds, to deliver water directly to the roots?

    If a buried system is better, how deep should it be? 3 inches under the surface of the soil? Six inches? What?

    If a buried system is better, should we use a soaker hose, or something else?

    Please help with your wisdom and experience, O garden people. I don't know what to do, but I'm sure that you know.
  2. The Wanderer

    The Wanderer Member

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    Algarve, Portugal
    Hey, well to start with, flattery will get you everywhere! :D Yes, an automated watering system makes life so much easier...well, usually! Personally, I always use surface irragation as it allows the water to disperse wherever it needs to go. If you water the roots directly, they may get over watered. Plus it's more difficult to spot leaks and problems if the irrigation bits are all underground.

    As I'm in a different country, the bits you need to buy will be different, but I'm hoping the principle is the same (and I don't know how much you know about irrigation already, so if I'm telling you what you already know, I apologise!) Basically, I'd suggest having a main pipe for the beds which you can take smaller tube (capillary) off. At the end of the capillary, either use uprights, which you can feed the capillary into and add a spray head on the end. This would send out a spray of irrigation from a height, usually about 20cm. This is a great way to disperse the water evenly, but can lead to burning of the leaves. But it might work for veggies, saves having to add a drip to each plant.

    If, however, this doesn't appeal to you, then you can use the same principle (main pipe with smaller tubing coming off), but use more of the smaller tubing and add a drip onto each end. For this you'll need one drip per plant, whereas the upright system you'd only need, say, one upright for half a dozen plants or more.

    I hope this helps and if I can be of any more use, let me know!


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