Despite Oregon’s soggy reputation, my garden grows in a modified Mediterranean climate, with very little rainfall arriving in the summer and early fall. Supplemental water of some kind is a requirement. Getting the in-ground watering installed in the new round garden is vital if we are going to have lawn there for The Garden Conservancy Open Day on July 7.
It’s a gorgeous and sunny today, in the high 50s when Paul Sassone and his assistant Kurt Hazen arrive. Paul’s the cheerful watering maven who has been systematically helping me install low-flow sprinklers.
Kurt, also willing, but more silent, does the heavy digging. Together they refurbish one bed a year, slowly, so I can afford it. Notice, I said “sprinklers” not “drip.”
I began this garden by putting drip pipes in every bed—I did it myself. I wasted time, money and effort. I know this sounds a bit iconoclastic. No one disses drip. Drip is the savior for all watering needs—that’s the gardening mantra, right?
I believed it. I had used drip to good effect in several city gardens. But frankly, there are situations where half-inch pipe and tiny tubing does not work well. Large country gardens like mine are one of them. I couldn’t keep a close enough eye on the problems that arose. My first alert would be dead plants.
Raccoons dug up the hoses. The nightly marauders moved my carefully encircled and pinned down tubing away from plantings, but because of the mulch, I didn’t notice until it was too late.
I inadvertently sliced into the mulch-covered piping when I was digging in various beds and never saw it until pools of water mysteriously appeared or everything further down that line had wilted. (I realize both these problems involved mulch, but that’s something I would never get rid of.)
The last straw was the behavior of the wild turkeys. I surmise they were drawn to the sound of water moving through the plastic pipe. Anyway, the flock routinely pecked holes in it. That left dancing waters, shooting up in the air in odd-lot places, which took me days, and sometimes weeks, to discover because I had programmed the system to come on early in the morning when I wasn’t around to inspect it.
I ended up tearing most of the drip out. I’ve kept it in two zones right around the house where I can check it routinely (and it keeps the foundation drier).
And now I actually use less water. I know that’s impossible to believe, but In fact, I wasted so much water with drip disasters, that when I converted to low-flow sprinkler heads with Paul and Kurt’s help, I saw considerable savings.
Also, in all fairness to fans of drip, much of my garden has matured; most plantings don’t need the consistent attention drip offers. Deeper roots, appropriate plants and thick mulches save plenty of water now. # # # #