Best watering system for raised bed

s_sAugust 26, 2010

We are planning on installing a raised bed for veggies/flowers in our yard. I'd like recommendations for the best method to water - soaker hose? Drips? Small spray sprinklers?

We are starting from scratch and have a controller so we can install what ever will work best.

We live in Central Phoenix


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I use 1/2" tubing with the emitters built into the tube. Each emitter is spaced 12" apart. It works perfectly, doesn't get clogged like a soaker hose will, and has no fiddly parts like a bubbler or something similar will have. A few companies make them...the link below is to one with 18" spacing...I can't remember the brand I used - generic brand from one of my local sprinkler stores.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drip with built-in emitters

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 3:22AM
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littleluey(Zone 9)

I saw that type of hose when I was doing mine. The one thing that made me decide against it was that the hose was pretty hard, and I thought I would have a hard time putting the water where I wanted it in my 4x4 bed.
How did it work for you? did you use something to hold it in place?

I went with the soaker pipe and some watering stakes like the one on this link I am still trying different heads to see which one I like best. I do have my 4x4 veggie bed surrounded by my potted plants and that is where the stakes are. They are all in the same connection.

Here is a link that might be useful: water stake

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 6:19PM
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The Master Gardener from UC Davis swearers by T-Tape.

I did not do a price comparison. There are many other places that sell it so you may want to take a look around.

Here is a link that might be useful: DripWorks

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 10:16PM
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greenthumbjeff(Zone 9 - Gilbert, AZ)

I prefer to use 1/4" Toro blue stripe tubing with built-in drip emitters that are spaced 6" apart. It's very cost effective and easy to work with.

In your case, just connect a 1/2" main line to the water supply and branch the 1/4" tubing off wherever you need it.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 9:41PM
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I was also wondering this, and spent the past couple weeks doing research. I just finished my beds using sub-irrigation. It was very cheap to set up and I can reuse it every year. The best part is how little water they use! Far less than even a drip system, and perfect for Arizona.
The site I link to below was my inspiration for it. I used 4" corrugated tubing from Home Depot (my Lowe's doesn't carry it) as the base, going lengthwise, spaced about 5 inches apart. I used a vertical piece of PVC tube for the water-fill-spout, and drilled a hole in the beds at the same height as the corrugated pipe as an overflow drain. I packed soil in around the pipes and then filled in the rest with the soil and plants.
There are a lot of articles and photos of sub-irrigation setups at this blog - and somewhere there is a link to a photo-set of Flikr that shows each step.
Hope that helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sub-irrigated planters (SIPs)

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 11:05PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

bargainbabe, I'm seriously attracted to this SIP concept for my 2 new raised beds but I'm having trouble finding a good step-by-step plan. The first thing that's not clear is how the water is contained within the corrugated tubes that have been cut in half length-wise.

In the small lettuce boxes it looks like they are simply snugged up against the ends of the mortor box. Is this the same in a raised bed? Or are the ends of the corrugated pipe capped somehow?

And then, do you 'fill' the underground corrugated pipes via the verticle piece of PVC pipe and let the water leach out into the soil? How long does it take to completely leach out and how do you know when it's time to refill the reservoir?

I Googled for a better DIY site but was unsuccessful. Thanks in advance for any additional help.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 8:00AM
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how about a follow up on this. How did this )SIP) work for you?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 12:27AM
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Thanks for everyone's advice. We ended up using small diameter soaker drip line. We have a 3X6 square foot garden/raised bed, and we ran 6 soaker hoses along the middle or so of each square food and with some twisting and circling, we ended up with good coverage across the entire bed.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 5:46PM
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mister_gin(z9 AZ)

I've tried a variety of watering techniques in my raised bed(s) over the years. I found soaker hoses worked okay when the beds were smaller, but as they've expanded (now combined at roughly 10x10) I find drip works best for me. I don't fully utilize all the space in my bed so I find watering just where I need it works best.

This year I finally bit the bullet and put in a new 1" valve just for the veggies. I ran poly tube to the bed then tied that into 1/2" PVC running just under ground. I then teed up two DIG 12 Outlet Retrofit Drip manifolds. These have built in 2 GPH emitters that can be removed or blocked if more, less or no water is needed. So far I'm happy i did this, even with the higher expense.

Here is a link that might be useful: DIG 12 Outlet retrofit drip kit

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 5:12PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

maybe a sub-surface drip irrigation ... check RainBird

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 7:00PM
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Its 2013 and in the Houston area we are rumored to have another dry summer. I am also interested in the sub surface irrigation as we have to large raised beds I just put in for the Thai Gardner I am married to.
I did not see a good how to on this.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:41AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I don't remember hearing anyone on this site discussing this concept. But definately on the VPA website here in Phx. Several people there are using various methods of sub-irrigation, aka 'wicking beds'. The biggest discussion is how to retain the 'well' of water below ground.

I've posted a link but poster jacq also is has a blog on the site about sub irrigation, but she's using a large cattle tank.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wicking Beds

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:49AM
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Let me know how your SIP's raised bed are doing. I've had mine for several years and it doesn't work for me. I'm having much better lucks with a 6 inch simple raised bed. I think the salinity builds up because our water has too many minerals in it.

My Earthbox does great so it could just be my set up. I'm pretty sure I should have used all potting soil, but instead i got a bunch of soil from Singh farms and that didn't work at all. The first year, i got absolutely nothing. Subsequent years were a little better, but still the simple 6" inch raised bed outperformed all the years. Plus, the self watering raised bed used more water than the simple raised bed.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:02PM
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We have tried a number of watering systems.

First - we tried 1/4" perforated tubing where there is a drip hole every 8" or so. We laid them down the sides and middle of each bed. We thought they did they worked the first year. Afterwards, we had dry spots. When I picked out the 1/4" tubing, we found the holes plugged with salts. Because I could not SEE the water, we decided to change the watering system to something on the top.

Second - we plumbed 3/4" pvc for each bed. Risers every 24" or so. To flood the beds. We could see the water, but didn't get coverage as we wanted. Also, the flooding seemed too much water in such a short time, we had lots of water leakage. BUT, we can see when the water comes out of the risers and know that the plants are getting water.

NOW - we are still using the above configuration but creating growing areas around each riser. Making a sort of bowl that fills with water slowly and gives the plants in each square plenty of water. This winter and spring this system has worked well.

I can see the water. I can turn each bed on/off. I have control.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:52PM
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