My goal is to properly water each pot with an automatic watering system and minimize water waste.
I’ve seen micro sprayer heads for use with potted plants SOMEWHERE. I cannot find them again. I’m looking for help with finding the systems. The system I remember finding, some time back, had full, half, and quarter-circle sprayers as well as adjustable circle sprayers.
The biggest issue is water waste. Mostly for the sheer wasting of water, but secondly for the cost, and thirdly because my soil turns to chocolate pudding when I over-water.
Before everyone jumps on the idea, the cautions are simple:
Automatic watering systems make you lazy. Ideally, you should only use them when you are unable to be there for your plants.
Watering systems are prone to failure.
The more complicated you make a system, the more failure points you create.
You should hand-water if at all possible because it means you’re out there looking at your plants each and every day!
Bill, Rainbird has micro sprays that will fit your description. You can also use a drip emitter attached to 1/4" spaghetti tubing with a couple or more staked in each pot. Rainbird’s website has good pics of several different ways to set up the system. If you give me more information I will be more than happy to send you some ideas and parts that can work for you. Just so you know I have 31 years in the landscape and irrigation industry. I have worked for irrigation suppliers and ran an irrigation division of a company. I did all the designs for the systems we installed.
Kevin what do you think is better…to try and tie into an existing rainbird system, I currently have one open zone that I could make my Bonsai zone and run micros off the the 1/4 inch OR to run off one of those battery operated digital timer guys that you hook onto a Y off the bib and then run the same 1/4 and micros off it. This would be for summer heat help and out of town use. I would remain the primary water boy FYI.
Or would you have another suggestion?
I currently run my micros off of my existing irrigation. If you’re going to do that then you’ll need to have a good controller. My basic controller sucks and I can’t set the micro zone separately from the rest of the yard. That’s a temporary problem though. I’ll be replacing the controller soon.
I’ve had issues with the battery controlled things that hook up to your spigot. Your spigot always has to be on, typically I have had to have a splitter, if there’s a leak it’s always going to be leaking because the spigot is always on, checking batteries and lastly they just tend to break after a year or so.
These systems are what I use for my flowerbeds though. I prefer to hand water. It gives me some time to decompress and also check on my plants. I get all of my supplies from Lowe’s or Home Depot.
@KevinNGa, Here’s my idea:
Central control system tapped into my home water lines. (Already had a plumber provide this)
Back-flow prevention valve
Anywhere from 8 to 10 zones depending on water pressure analysis and bench locations
Each zone is a water line running beneath/behind my benches
To water a pot, I tap into the line with a flow-control valve somewhere on the tap or the new line
Most pots will have two spray heads in opposite corners/edges of the bonsai pot
And that’s where I’m lost. I’ve seen the spray heads somewhere. They’re small enough to handle a 10-inch pot. They have a spike that holds them in the pot and a 1/4 round pattern that makes them perfect for corners, or a 1/2 round pattern that I can spike them along the middle of a pot’s edge.
I don’t like the idea of a soaker line or a drip head because my soil is often very well draining. I have this image of the water descending from the top of the pot to the bottom in a very narrow V pattern. Thus, not all the roots get water and the uppermost part of the soil is mostly dry. I’d rather have a spray that puts the water across the most of the upper soil. This is not from experience, this is my assumption.
Sprinkler Warehouse seems to have the 90 and 180 degree sprayers you’re looking for here. I also think you can find all of these sprayers in the lawn-sprinklers section of any big box hardware store (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.)
@BillsBayou depending on how many benches you have you may not need more than a zone or two. Once you get the flow you have can decide how many zones you need. I would suggest using a premade valve setup for drip zones. It will have the control valve, a pressure regulator and filter. This will attach to a standard 1/2" drip line that you can get without any predrilled emitters. Run the drip behind the benches and run the 1/4" tubes from the drip line to each pot. I will try to get a few part numbers for you when I find my catalog. I moved 3 weeks ago and haven’t unpacked everything.
Sprinkler warehouse is a good choice for homeowners. The pricing is pretty good. I will try to post some part numbers on micro sprays that I feel have the best pattern for containers. I have tried most everyone on the market.
Look for a controller that can support multiple programs. That way you can set your landscape on one and the bonsai on another. The smaller controllers now have alot of the same features as the larger commercial ones. It’s best to have the at least four start times per program.
I like these spot-spitter downspray emitters. They come in various flow rates depending on what you are watering. Because they angle down, more water goes into the pot and less on the bench.
These are fantastic! I’m looking at the web site. They even have 90° spitters. Nice. And they’re dirt cheap, which helps with my project planning.
I found these. The only thing that would make these better than the spot-spitters would be better delivery of water. However, the spot-spitters are very simple in their design. Just one stake. The Antelco downsprayers seem to have many more parts and that tells me they have more points of potential failure.
@BillsBayou if you remember, there was an irrigation talk Sunday morning at the Houston show. It was presented by Mark Bynum. He is the president or former pres of Ft. Worth. In any case he presented that presentation for the Dallas July meeting. Like @KevinNGa he has years and years of irrigation expertise. He designed micro systems for vineyards as well as the Ft. Worth Arboretum. One thing he mentioned about the micros is he found there to be benefits to some over spray, The cooling of pots in summer as well as as increased relative humidity from evaporation from the water on the benches and the ground below. His preferred set up was 180 degree heads spaced about 3 ft, staggered on opposite sides using the 4ft spray diameter micros. His benches are 4ft wide and he finds the spray diamerter to be closer to 3.5 and likes the overlap. For in pot sprayers I believe hi preferred the 90s in diagonal corners.
Personally, I would go with the down sprayers.
I’ve tried the spot spitters. The spot spitters are attached to the hose from the top, which means that unless your pot is deep enough to hold the spitter steady, you’re going to have to hold the hose up somehow, or you end up burying it so deep that you kill the range. It also makes it so that if anything tugs on the hose, out comes the spitter, and not straight up, but like a lever through the soil.
Also, you could mount the down sprayers to the bench or ground, allowing you to move the trees around underneath, without messing with the watering system at all. Think light posts along a street, but with water instead of light.
Very good points. Thanks for pointing this out.
I was wondering about the depth of the pots issue. I didn’t think about the slight tug moving the placement of the water.
I used a set up like this for emergency trips where I couldn’t find someone to water for me. The shallow pots and granular bonsai soil are crap at holding anything staked in, especially without a nice thick layer of moss on top.
I honestly would have just put them on the ground and used fine sprinklers if I had the shade and space.
plus one on the non suitability of stick in solutions. i used this for last years vacation of 1,5 weeks. All trees survived but you could see the uneven watering pattern. I would also believe, that the suggested sprayers would not provide sufficient thorough and even watering. I know that water preservation was a concern (and a valid one), thus use of broad sprayers will score badly on this part. But for providing sufficient water for the trees it will be better. It is also very hard to consistently set little drippers/sprayers to provide individual adjusted amounts for each tree as they clog etc.
For this years holiday i resorted to using a broad range larger sprinkler and set all trees down in a row before that and adjusted the sprayer to cover the area. Much better result with the trees when i came back (+ not sure it used that much more water, as before the issue was to run the water feed long enough for the biggest pots thus pouring out of the smaller ones.