Last Fall my wonderful Sports Addict and I moved into our new home and I immediately got the great idea that instead of putting in a privacy fence in the backyard, we could save money by creating a living hedge.
The concept was pretty simple. Just buy 24 bushes and plant them in a row. Of course all projects have their hang-ups and we ended up having to dig two 70 foot long trenches, the first one to uncover the sprinkler line running right under the soon to be hedge, and the second trench about a foot and a half away from the first one to reposition the sprinkler line again. Of course we did it all with shovels and our brute strength because it couldn’t be that hard…right? Lets just say I was in the dog house for a day or two for thinking up this “simple” project.
Well the winter passed and this spring we realized we lost a few of our bushes.
(Note the really orange bush. There are a few more, actually ten, scattered along the line. Disregard the stump…that’s another project on the list, but don’t tell the Sports Addict.) Most of the other dead ones looked more like the following photo. It may look like it’s hanging in there, but believe me, it’s as crispy as a Christmas tree finally taken down mid January. Luckily I still had my receipt from when we bought them last fall and I was able to replace them without further charge. This kept the Sports Addict smiling despite the knowledge he would have to help replant.
This dead plant phenomenon is due to a little problem I have, namely forgetting they need water. In 1st grade I learned plants need light, food, and water as I planted my little bean seed in a paper cup filled with dirt and watched it grow in the window I stared out far too often. Unfortunately I don’t apply this knowledge well. This is why I don’t have any indoor plants. The few I had just couldn’t survive random waterings whenever mom came over. “ Your plant looks a little thirsty,” is her euphemism for, “Your plant shouldn’t be laying on the counter like that.”
Question: So if I have a sprinkler system already in place, why are my bushes thirsty?
Answer: Because they are…ok! Actually it’s because we had to move the sprinkler line out in front of them (remember really awful digging project) and it would kill some of the bushes to adjust the heavy-duty, machine gun style sprinklers to hit the bushes behind them.
Luckily for about $60 one can buy all the parts necessary to put in a 70 foot drip line. All I had to do was go to my local sprinkler supply store, tell them my problems, or at least just the ones dealing with the hedge, and they sent me home with all of this:
So the next challenge is taking all these seemingly random parts and creating a drip line from them. To help explain what all these drip lines, adapters, tees, and so forth are going to do, here’s a little diagram I drew up of what it will all look like in the end.
The first step is to determine where you want to tee off from the current sprinkler line and join to the new drip line. Remember that your new drip line will water for the same amount of time as the line you tee off.
I decided to tee off the funny pipe running to one of my Rain Bird sprinklers right next to the hedge. Then I made a cut in the funny pipe to insert the funny pipe tee. I used a PVC cutting tool, but you can use a razor blade in a pinch. Just don’t cut yourself because that hurts real bad.
(Funny pipe tells the best jokes. We were like laughing so hard. It has this one about a guy…but I guess you’d have to be there. Just kidding.)
Next I attached the short piece of funny pipe I got at the store onto the tee. This just needs to be long enough to come out of the ground where you want to attach to the drip line.
Funny pipe and drip line pipe are not the same thing. The funny pipe is much stronger and thicker. Due to this difference they use different adapters. The black ones are for the funny pipe and the tan ones are for the drip line. In order to transition from funny pipe to drip line the guys at the store gave me two pieces that screw together. The first was a black funny pipe adapter with a female end. The second piece was a tan drip line adapter with a male end. (I always feel a little embarrassed using plumbing terminology.)
In order to ensure a tight seal between the two pieces I used some teflon tape. I’m not sure if this was completely necessary due to them being plastic parts, but when in doubt I usually go overboard. Then I stuck the funny pipe adapter into the end of my funny pipe coming out of the ground.
Shoving all of these adapters into the pipes can take some muscle so this was where my Sports Addict came in very handy. The man speaks three languages but would rather just help in situations like this than have to figure it out. That strong hand in the background next inserted a short piece of drip line onto the drip line adapter. Now it starts getting exciting.
From the point where I teed off the sprinkler line to the actual drip line is only about two feet, so I ran about two feet of drip line up to a drip line tee to start the actual drip line. The drip line tee is the tan one.
Now I could finally start running the black drip line pipe off this tee down the fence line in both directions. (Clear as mud yet?)
I ran my first side to the left since it was a longer stretch of pipe. The pipe came in a large roll and when I first tried to lay it out straight it kept springing back on itself. Stretching it out in the sun with a rock on one end and the trampoline on the other soon fixed this problem.
A package of little metal staples also came in very hand to hold down the pipe and keep everything where it was supposed to be. They remind me of miniature crocket wickets. Push it down until it lightly touches the pipe. (Do as I say–not what it looks like in the picture.)
To clamp off the open ends I used figure 8 shaped clamps. They aren’t 100% necessary because you could probably find other ways to clamp off the ends, but they sure are handy. All you do is slip it on the pipe then double the end over and slip it back through the other hole. Then just pull the plastic clamp back toward the bend in the pipe and you’re done. Whoever patented it is laughing his way all the way to the bank with how easy it is.
Now with pipe running down the length of the fence it’s finally time to explain the little bug adapters and spray nozzles that actually water the bushes.
There are three parts to the next step. First is the bug adapter. It punctures into the drip line pipe on one side and pushes into the small black tubing on the other.
The second part is of course the tubing, which cut easily with a pair of strong scissors. It came in a large, tightly wound roll, and I still have a ton left over if anyone needs some. Just cut enough to stretch from the drip line and bug adapter over to where you want your spout stuck in the ground.
The third part is a little tricky and the Sports Addict and I found it was really helpful to have fingernails. At least that’s what I think the problem was, because I could put about six together in the time he did one. The spout comes stuck to the side of it’s plastic stake. In order to put it together you need to twist off the round spout and force it between the tines on the top of the stake. One side of the spout has small ridges on it. This is the side you want to stick into the tines. The black tubing will stick into the side without the ridges.
In order to ensure the spout doesn’t come out of the tines, there is a little plastic locking piece connected to the other side of the stake. Twist this off and force the tops of the tines into it’s corners, thus locking the tines closed. This was the part that thwarted the Sports Addict. His thick fingers seemed to have a hard time getting both sides into the little plastic lock. It was a little tricky, but I was able to do it quickly by putting one side in the lock and then using my fingernail to push the other tine into place.
I did this assembly work before inserting the bug adapter into the drip line, but I’m sure you could do it afterward.
Finally push the pointy end of the bug adapter into the drip line pipe. This took some muscle. Try not to create a pinch in the pipe as you do this step.
Then you just push the stake with the spout into the ground next to the plant you want to water. In my case, 24 Emerald Green Arborvitaes.
The entire project took about two hours and now, three weeks later my bushes are looking green, healthy, and alive. I’ve still got my fingers crossed they will stay that way.