Automatic Watering System

Automatic Watering System

by

Tyler C Rich
August 13, 2021
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Savvy gardeners use automatic watering irrigation systems in their gardens.

The reasons are pretty evident for using this method. For a start, dragging a garden hose around the garden with every watering interval can be tiresome.

Again, think about having to straighten the kinks every time you use your hose. It can be quite tedious, to say the least.

The good news is that you can save yourself the hassle and time of watering your garden manually by opting for an automatic watering system.

Even better, you can learn how to make one yourself with a few guidelines.

What Is An Automatic Watering System?

Let’s start by breaking down the automatic watering system.

This is a computerized timer-based water supply system for the garden. Everything is automated, so you can set the system to go on and off and use a specific volume of water every time it activates.

Of course, minimal surveillance and manual intervention might be necessary, but not always. Everything operates on its own. An automatic watering system will no doubt make your gardening a whole lot easier and less strenuous.

Gardeners enjoy using automatic watering systems because they relieve them of the tediousness of manual watering systems.

There’s also a risk of forgetting to water your plants due to engaging workplace demands, ensuring that automatic systems resolve this issue.

But, let’s face it; gardening can be quite challenging when it comes to watering, especially if you struggle with routines that prevent you from watering your garden when necessary.

Chances are, more so for starters, you may not be well-positioned to gauge the right watering volumes. Second, it might take time to realize that you have a soggy garden or are underwatering and have dying plants on your hands.  

Can It Actually Work Properly?

Can It Actually Work Properly? 

Will the automatic watering system work appropriately for your garden?

You’re justified in asking this question, and the answer is that it will!

Certainly, automating your irrigation routine will ease the burden of watering your plants. However, it will also reduce the risk of watering incorrectly by under or overwatering your garden.

However, before delving into the benefits of having an automatic watering system, let’s address the intricacies of how it works. There are various forms of automated watering systems – electrical and mechanical.

Typically, automatic watering systems include a system of pipes fitted with an electrical controller. The pipes are then connected to various valves in an underground box attached to the primary water source.

The system of pipes distributes water to the various gardening locations. Each location or zone gets its own valve that controls the release of water at different, preferred intervals.

The most amazing part is that once the timer for each zone is set, the watering system self-activates and deactivates without supervision.

Any self-watering system, whether mechanical or electrical, is considered an automatic watering system, so it is not always necessary to connect the system to an electrical power source.

Let’s now look at the fantastic benefits of having an automated watering system for your indoor and outdoor gardens.

Automation

The automatic watering system is convenient for tight schedules. If you have a hectic work schedule, are planning a vacation, or work out of town, the automated watering system is the best way to maintain your garden.

This system caters to your plant watering needs once you install one of these systems. It is convenient and hassle-free, and you’ll wonder why you took so long to install an automatic watering system.

Once you flip the switch, you don’t need to be home for your garden to be watered.

It also saves you time and effort and the regular headache from estimating the correct water level for your plants.

Cost-Effective

Hoses, oscillators, watering cans, and other manual watering systems waste water.

Using an automatic watering system ensures efficiency as you can adjust the optimal watering of your plants. The system also optimizes energy usage by starting and stopping according to how you set it to run.

Additionally, this system releases a controlled amount of water, so only the areas that need water get a good dousing. Finally, the system shuts itself off once it achieves the ideal irrigation level, saving water and energy.

Improved Efficiency

When installing the irrigation system, you will have more control over the garden layout, ensuring the water goes where necessary. Again, you control the timing of the settings and the volume of water for specific garden areas to optimize plant growth.

You can return home from a vacation without worrying about whether your flowers will be withered flowers or your lawn will have that unpleasant crisp, yellow appearance.

Apart from reducing your water bills and keeping your plants sufficiently watered, the automatic watering system enhances home value. A buyer will undoubtedly be impressed by the presence of an elaborate watering system.

However, the type of automatic irrigation system you choose to install matters. But how to find the best from the many?

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular automatic irrigation systems you can find.

Most Popular Automatic Systems 

Automatic watering systems can be further subdivided into various classifications.

Here are the multiple categories to help you weigh your options before making an installation.

Time-Based System

Time-Based System

As the name suggests, you can control this system with an electronic timer that discharges water according to your programming.

Mind you, the efficiency of a time-based watering system also depends on the operator’s accuracy.

You must factor in the quantity, flow rate, and watering intervals you want the system to discharge. The timer starts and stops the irrigation process depending on your settings.

Pros

  • It saves energy, water, and time
  • Watering at correct intervals without fail
  • Maintains constant moisture levels at the substrate level
  • Efficient and precise watering
  • Requires minimal maintenance and attention

Cons

  • Quite costly to install
  • Depends on the efficiency of the operator
  • Damage in the system may take days to identify

Volume-Based System

Volume-Based System

This automatic watering system works on the volume of water plants need in the various garden zones. This type of system works with automatic volume control valves that discharge a pre-set water amount.

However, just like the time-based system, the programming depends on the operator’s ability to predetermine the right volume of water in each garden zone.

Pros

  • Each zone gets the required amount of water
  • Precise coverage
  • Allows you a practical degree of control
  • Limited wastage of water

Cons

  • Prone to human error
  • You still have to worry about water measurements
  • Requires regular attention to detail to prevent over or to underwater of plants.

Open-Loop System

open loop irrigation

The Open-loop automatic watering system combines the features of volume and time-based systems to create a hybrid system.

So, the open-loop system gives you control over the timing and the volume of water discharged. Then, you program the controller according to your calculations and convenience.

The system is fitted with a computerized timer that triggers the irrigation. Then, depending on your preference, the process stops based on the timer or the volume passing through the flow meter.

Pros

  • Enhanced control of both volume and interval
  • You can control the timer remotely on a computer
  • Efficient watering based on volume and timing
  • Water at any time, including night and early morning

Cons

  • Accuracy depends on operator estimations
  • It may be too sophisticated for anyone with an aversion to technology
  • Too many algorithms complicate the process
  • Needs constant intervention

Closed-Loop System

Closed-Loop System

The closed-loop system also allows you to control volume and timing. However, the entire system is fitted with sensors placed strategically in various garden zones.

These sensors collect data based on certain factors such as humidity and temperature. The system then automatically starts and stops the irrigation based on this data.

As the operator, you only need to develop a general control strategy once and let the sensors do the rest. The continuous feedback from the sensors allows the system to self-activate and stop when necessary. 

Pros

  • More accurate even with non-linearity
  • Requires little intervention
  • It serves every zone according to zone-specific indicators
  • Enhanced regulation (water is only released when needed)
  • Saves water
  • Optimized irrigation strategy

Cons

  • Sensors can increase the overall installation cost
  • Highly unstable (sensors need to be strategically placed for accuracy)
  • Takes into account limited environmental factors (mainly temperature, humidity, and wind)
  • Faulty sensors may lead to disaster
  • Feedback reduces overall system gain

Real-Time Feedback System

Real-Time Feedback System

Real-time feedback systems focus on continuing development of things and respond depending on this feedback. As such, this irrigation system will operate depending on your plants’ actual dynamic demands.

This system uses a series of hi-tech sensors that rely on environmental factors around the plant’s root zone. They include temperature, humidity, precipitation, speed of the wind, etc.

You won’t need to worry about settings because the sensors control the watering in terms of volume and timing.

The sensors collect data from the plant’s root environment and send the feedback to controllers. The controllers, in turn, trigger action according to the received feedback.

Pros

  • Accurate depending on plants immediate needs
  • Ideal for those without the technical know-how
  • Proper amounts of water and timing
  • Requires minimal operator intervention

Cons

  • System faults lead to clogging or under irrigation
  • Expensive
  • Environmental factors may be misleading, such as short bursts of strong winds.

Acquiring any of these systems will ensure your plants get the water they need to thrive. Unfortunately, cost and preferences may limit your buying options.

However, if you’re running on a tight budget, a simple Do It Yourself (DIY) guide may come in handy. Following the various directions, you can quickly develop your own automatic watering system at a lower cost. Here is how you can make your own automated watering system.

Make Your Own Automatic Systems

There are various types of automatic watering systems you can construct.

We cover two easily customizable options.

DIY: Soaker Hose Watering System

To assemble the soaker hose automatic watering system, you’ll first need to obtain certain items.

You can buy these separately from a hardware store near you.

Components

  • Soaker hose
  • Garden hose
  • Hose couplers
  • 3-way connectors and angle connectors to manipulate water flow
  • Pressure regulator
  • A timer
  • Staples
  • Cutters
  • Water source (tank, tap, etc.)

Once you buy these essential items, you can start building your watering system network.

Step1

Distribute the soaker hose to various watering zones and connect them using garden hoses with 3-way and angle connectors.

The main purpose of the garden hose is to transport water from the faucet to the soaker hoses.

Step 2

Anchor in place the soaker hose at the base of plants using staples.

You will need a cutting tool to cut the hoses to the correct lengths. Cutters are also necessary for snipping the soaker hoses to fit the shape of the bed or row.

Step 3

You’ve already created a convenient network of soaker hoses connected by garden hoses. Now, connect the garden hose to the timer and then to the faucet.

You have successfully created an automatic time-based watering system.

The timer will allow you to program the daily watering cycles for your pants. You can keep adjusting the depth of the soaker hoses depending on environmental factors and your plant’s watering needs.

You can use the hose couplers to further subdivide the soaker hoses according to the number of planting zones.

The dripline watering system

This system is pretty easy and cheap to construct.

Components

  • 1/2-in. poly tubing
  • 1/4-in. vinyl tubing (fitted with emitters)
  • Pressure regulator
  • Barbed fittings
  • Small stakes
  • Filter
  • Elbow connectors
  • Timer

Step 1

Lay your tubing around the garden and plants. Use the barbed fittings to attach ½-inch tubing with emitters to preferred spots and plant bases in a snaking pattern.

Step 2

Use the stakes to pin the tube to the ground and secure it in place.

You can use the elbow connectors for joints at sharp bends.

In places where the plant growth is dense, you can use above-ground micro sprayers. You should strap these micro sprayers securely to a branch or strong stem.

Step 3

Attach the filter to a pressure regulator and then to a timer (optional) before connecting to the faucet.

The timer is recommended if you won’t be around to keep regulating the water flow. You can then turn on your tap, recline and enjoy the handiwork.

Conclusion 

If you love gardening, do not leave the fate of your plants to chance. You need to ask how often you irrigate your lawn, for instance. Are you efficiently and adequately irrigating your rooftop or backyard garden?

Although an automatic watering system can be rather costly, it gets the job done better than manual watering in many cases. It also saves you time, cash, and energy while keeping your plants hydrated and healthy.

An automatic watering system is the best friend to the green thumbs of a modern, serious gardener.

Not forgetting the tons of DIY options out there, keep your plants happy today so you can continue to appreciate the benefits of a healthy garden.

Resources:

Tyler C Rich

Tyler C Rich is the founder and chief editor at TopsyGardening.com. An experienced gardener and a professionally trained agriculture development expert, Rich has worked in the gardening and landscaping industry for more than a few decades. Although he has retired, his spark for developing the best urban and indoor gardens has not faded a bit. He uses TopsyGardening.com as a platform to come across enthusiastic gardeners and share the unique insights he has acquired through years of experience. Rich is interested in aquaponics and technology apart from conventional gardening techniques.