I first published this article in April 2004, updating it here.
My Gardens Start Out Beautiful…
We have a large vegetable garden and several flower gardens around our two acre yard. I enjoy getting out in the yard to work when spring arrives. I’m motivated to water the flowers regularly for a few weeks—it’s just so nice to be outside on those beautiful spring days. Then spring becomes summer. Life starts intruding. This deadline and that are hitting and the convenience of going out to water the flowers seems to slide to “tomorrow.” Before long our once beautiful flowers are thin and pale and dying.
Then I discovered how easy it is to install a drip irrigation system with a timer. Now I am enjoying beautiful and healthy gardens through the entire season.
Mister Landscaper Microsprinkler and Drip Irrigation System
You can see these products at MisterLandscaper.com. I decided to purchase a Mister Landscaper Starter Kit and then supplemented it with à la carte purchases of additional accessories (landscape stake assemblies, spray jets, tubing, etc.). It would be hard to imagine an easier installation besides bribing someone to do it for you.
I laid the tube along the desired path, closed off one end with an end fitting and attached a hose fitting to the other end (a simple threading process). Then I decided where to place the first microsprinkler and attached it to the ½ inch poly tubing. The kit comes with a hole punch tool for punching small holes in the poly tubing to attach sprinkler units. If you change your mind or later want to move a sprinkler, there are also hole plugs.
The landscape stake assembly comes with a small tube attached. A small “coupler” is pushed into the end of the small tube and the other side is pushed into the hole you just punched in the large tubing. Easy. A heavenly choir hits a high note.
Select a micro spray jet according to the desired watering pattern and simply screw it into the top of the sprinkler. Push the sprinkler into the ground (the attached stake), connect the large tubing to the water faucet, turn it on, and we have micro irrigation. A heavenly choir hits another chord in harmony.
There is a wide variety of sprinkler heads to meet any need. For example, I have one set with a highly directional sprinkler head that sprays across five feet of grass to water a fig tree. For the flower pot sitting above one of my raised beds and a few other spot watering places, I used the drip irrigation accessory.
So experiment with sprinkler heads to get just the desired spray pattern (they screw off and on easily), then figure out how far apart you’ll need them to be placed. Add more sprinklers where desired. Turn on the water again and the heavenly choir bursts into hymn. Your neighbors are wondering where all the noise is coming from, looking at you funny, but you don’t care because with little time and money invested you have a working micro irrigation system.
Cover the tubing in mulch and you’re ready to go. Almost. Next step…
Outdoor Sprinkler Timer
I purchased a couple of Orbit timers similar to the one found here: Orbit sprinkler timer except mine has just one timer. This product also gets the I Love It / Low Friction award. It is trivially easy to set the clock and timer to the desired watering frequency and period length. After an entire season, watering daily, the batteries are still strong.
When the Season Ends
I opened the large tubing by removing the end cap so it would drain to avoid winter freeze damage (in later years I didn’t bother and there was no harm). I leave the lines and sprinklers in place, but I disconnect hoses, put cotton balls in the hose ends to keep out critters, remove the batteries from the timers and bring them inside. When spring arrives again, I simply reconnect the timer and hoses (hopefully remembering to remove the cotton balls, turn on the water, and the system starts working where it left off in the fall. It is a pleasant surprise for the next season process to be so easy.
When Hard Water Plugs Up the Sprinkler Heads
We have well water. It is great tasting water and it does have some mineral content. So the micro sprinkler heads infrequently plug up. I tried paper clips, rinsing, blowing in the holes… sometimes it worked, often not. This year I discovered that Mister Landscaper sells an All in one Tool (MLA-TOOL). It works great. I am embarrassed to say that I had been trying to push the paper clip wire into the output hole. Once I pushed the tool up from the bottom it quickly unplugged the hole. So a paper clip wire probably would have worked, too. But I still like the tool with it’s convenient holder and handle.
What is Wrong With Lowes Home Improvement?
This past spring I returned to Lowes to get some new accessories. Surprise. At my Lowes they are no longer selling Mister Landscaper products. Now they are selling a far inferior product line. I worried about my investment in the Mister Landscaper system until I found their online shopping site.
Low friction is not zero friction. In particular, I don’t know what’s going on with their Back Flow Prevention Valve (MLF-31). The plastic it is made from hardly makes it through a season (often not a full season) before it starts splitting open and spraying water. I found it necessary to have a backup supply of this item.
The sprinkler assemblies come with a 10 GPH Violet Flow Controlled PC Coupler. Water volume is controlled by a rubber disk with a tiny hole for the water to pass through. This thing plugs up in no time with my well water. It’s not too difficult to clean them by rinsing and running a tiny nail through the hole, but I just removed the disk from all of my sprinklers and, for my water volume and pressure (which is quite reasonable…not as high as city water), they still work just fine.
This year I added a 50 Mesh In-Line FILTER w/ 3/4′ Hose Threads water filter (Part number:MLFF-41), so I should no longer have plugging up issues.
Mister Landscaper products (with the one mentioned exception) are well designed, competitively priced, and they work. I highly recommend them as well as the Orbit timer. If your Lowes or Home Depot doesn’t sell them, let them know they’re making a mistake.
Side Note: Sweeney’s Weatherproof Deer Repellent not recommended
I set out Sweeney’s Weatherproof Deer Repellent. Last night my wife and I had to smile as we observed several deer leaning over the Sweeney’s deer repellent to eat grapes.
Copyright 2011 FrictionFactor.com