Drip Irrigation drip tape
The gardening website of Todd and Sharon Peach
At left are the two types of drip tape we have tried. They're both from Dripworks. The one of the left is their TDE1508L100; it has yellow racing stripes. For reasons unknown to me, they call it 'Green', and it's 'low flow'
We did most of the garden in that tape before deciding it wasn't really putting out enough water. We switched to the tape on the right, TDE1508H100 with the blue racing stripes. Inexpicably, dripworks calls it 'Red'. Perhaps it's the packaging color. 'High flow'. Both of these tapes are 5/8 inch.
To connect the tapes to the manifold or header tubing, you need a tool and some fittings. The Dripworks yellow punch is among the best I've seen. If you're doing more than 20-30 penetrations, consider buying more than one. They work best when they're sharp. Dripworks says you can sharpen them on a bench grinder but I don't have one of those.
The standard inexpensive method to connect the drip tape to the manifold tube is the LSB 1/4 inch tape lock barbs. Use the yellow punch to make the hole, insert the barb. This is the default fitting that comes in most of the less expensive drip tape kits.
The more expensive way is to add a shut off valve to the assembly: LSBSO - tape lock with shutoff. At the risk of stating the obvious, both of these join the tape to the manifold. The one with the shut off valve allows you to turn off an individual tape (example, we wanted our Dahlias to not be watered during the month of May).
The standard way to terminate the tape is with these tape end plugs.
Roll the tape out flat the length of the garden. Use kitchen shears to cut across the tape at a right angle. Try to make the cuts mid-way between the emitters, this doesn't have to be exact, but the emitter section is a heavier plastic that won't fit well in the start or end plugs.
I started out making most of my tapes about 4 inches too long. Like the main line tubing, the tape grows a little with temperature. It also typically 'straightens' under water pressure. Use some of the U-shaped wire hold downs to stabilize the tapes in the garden (one every three feet seems to work well).
For some reason I found the tape end plugs the most difficult of all the fittings to get a leak proof seal on. They're just a little squirrely. Pinching the internal fitting by grasping the hose there while simultaneously tightening (using your third hand) seems to do the trick.
If you need to place a shut off valve on the tape itself (to water only half the length of the tape), you need a tape coupler with valve. They also make tape couplers without valves if you need to cut out a bad section or otherwise join together two pieces of drip tape.
Each of our plots has four beds in it, each roughly three feet by fifteen feet. We ran three tapes in each bed, so 45 feet per bed, 180 feet per plot. Sharon sometimes thinks we should have run four tapes per bed to put more water down. In any case if you're buying drip tape, having a little extra is a good idea. We had a few instances where the tape got nicked (probably cutting the packaging open) and it was difficult to patch to our satisfaction. Shovel blade or even weeding is another way they can be damaged.
In researching drip tapes and gardening, Sharon ran across the Nature's Always Right Youtube channel.
They advocated running manifolds at both ends of the drip tape. This of course doubles the number of parts for much of the parts list. Main line tubing needs to go to both ends of the beds, more tees and ells to set up the second manifold, and more connectors with shut off valves.
Why go to this trouble? Reliability. Despite all of the other precautions, silt can get into your drip system and foul the emitters. By having pressure coming from both ends of each drip tape, you're much less likely to suffer a blockage that takes down all of the downstream emitters. It also gives some redundancy if a section of the main line tubing gets kinked and inhibits the flow.
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