Drip Irrigation System Installation and Flower Bed Fixes Part 2

Posted by John on August 15th, 2011

Back to work on our drip irrigation installation…

To see Part 1, click here.

So today I got an early start on the front flower beds with the goal of finishing up as much as I could until more drip irrigation hose arrives next week.  I’ll leave a small bare batch un-mulched so I can bring the 1/2″ hose over to the bed from the other side of the walkway.

Before shots…

First job this morning was to get the small grasses planted and continue with the landscape fabric.

In the picture above you can clearly see the 1/2″ drip irrigation supply line draped about 8″ away from each plant.  There is a tee behind the dwarf spruce.  Later, I’ll run 1/4″ lines from the main 1/2″ run over to the small grasses.  To get the curve right, I used hold down pins to keep the 1/2″ line from moving.  On this half of the bed I’ll run my main drip hose under the landscape fabric, but the other bed, I’ll run it over the mulch and cover it after it’s all in.

After about 4-5 hours of work, I got the entire front mulched (except for a small, necessary bare patch).

All finished.  Admittedly, our flower bed is low-key and kind of boring.  We get it.  However, we’re really not green thumbs by any stretch of the imagination, so we’re taking baby steps for now.  I think we’ll be adding levels of complexity as time goes on, but for now, I’ll be thrilled if nothing else dies!!

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Drip Irrigation System Installation and Flower Bed Fixes Part 1

Posted by John on August 12th, 2011

Lots to do this week!!

We got 3 cubic yards of black mulch and four flower beds to go!

Weeds, weeds and more weeds

There are a couple of landscaping lessons we’ve learned since we moved into our new house.  The first and arguably the most important is the necessity of landscaping fabric on flower beds.  Unless you enjoy weeding, they are a huge time saver.  The second is the necessity for regular and frequent watering of all our shrubs and decorative flowers.  We’ve already had to remove several crimson pygmies because they’ve dried out and shed a ton of leaves.  We were hoping Mother Nature would take care of our flower beds, but that hasn’t been the case.  Luckily, our other shrubs, like our sky pencils and hollies have been relatively unharmed by the local dry spell.

To combat the natural heat waves and dry times, we’re installing a drip irrigation system.  For under $200, we can water every plant automatically, everyday, twice a day.  We purchased the components to the system from www.irrigationdirect.com.    The drip irrigation system primarily consists of a battery powered control valve, a 1/2″ main water supply line and some small nozzles.  The main water supply line just snakes around the plants you want to water and then connects to the control valve.

We’re coinciding our drip irrigation installation with our mulching and rehab of our dilapidated flower beds.

We’re starting this drip irrigation installation from the end of the line and working towards the house, but it can be done the other way around.

The 1/2″ line and cutters

The manufacturer recommends to let the 100′ coil sit in the sun for a bit to soften the plastic before you work with it.  Once it’s soft, we’re going to unwind it and run a length of it under the sidewalk to bring it over to our small detached flower bed.  Since this irrigation line is soft and kinks and crushes easily, it’ll have to be run through a PVC pipe or other conduit.  To learn how to get a PVC pipe under a sidewalk, check out our previous post here.

The 1/2″ line run under the sidewalk

Now that the pipe is through, I add an elbow fitting and run it along the sidewalk over to the detached bed.  I’ll then add a tee and another elbow and run a small length of 1/2″ line in two segments right past the pom-pom plant and the small hollies.  At the end of every run, the 1/2″ line needs to be capped.  I’ll add the actual nozzles at the very end of the project.

One of the nice advantages of drip irrigation is that it can be run over or under mulch, so it can be added to existing flower beds with relative ease.  I’ve actually run out of 1/2″ line, so I’ll just finish up as much of the mulch as I can until more of it arrives.

Now for landscape fabric, mulch, downspout extenders and stone…

To see Part 2, click here.

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Adding Mulch to a Flower Bed

Posted by John on August 6th, 2011


Now that the shed is done, we’re going to wrap up the flower beds around it by adding mulch.  Mulching a flower bed is a fairly quick and easy job, plus it will allow us to get a feel for how much we’ll need for the front of the house, which we haven’t done yet.

The tools I used for this job are:

1.  A flower bed edger ( a flat shovel will work too)

2.  Good quality landscape fabric

3.  11 bags of black dyed mulch

4.  A box cutter with a sharp edge

5.  Garden or works gloves to prevent your hands from being stained by black dye

DSC03660-1024x768I thought I would use some hold down nails for the landscape fabric, but I didn’t end up using them, thus the hammer.

We purchased 11 bags of 2 cu. ft black dyed mulch.  You’re going to need enough to put a good 3-4 inches of mulch down.  Also, be aware that the mulch is moist when you buy it and it will leak out all over the trunk of your car, so be prepared to put down a tarp.  I definitely don’t know about that from experience.

To start this job, make sure the flower beds are mostly weeded.  I’m using the edger to better define the border between the grass and the mulch bed.  If you don’t have an edger, you can use a shovel, but don’t skip this step.

DSC03662-1024x768Once the flower bed has been edged, it’ll look like this:

DSC03663-1024x768Now we’re ready for the landscape fabric.  Landscape fabric commonly runs 3 feet wide, so it makes sense to have your flower beds about the same width.  To apply landscape fabric, run the roll out to the length of the bed and use a box cutter to cut it.



Once the roll is cut to length, we’ll need to make slits in the fabric to account for the shrubs and bushes. You also have the option of running the fabric right up to the shrub and cutting it completely through, then rolling out a whole new section on the other side of the shrub.

Now we’ll lay the fabric onto the flower bed and tuck it under the shrub.


Once the fabric is in place, I can start applying mulch. I fill up my wheel barrow with two bags of black mulch and use a flat shovel to pick up and apply mulch. I start adding mulch first to the outer edges against where the flower bed meets the grass. Next, I’ll add mulch to the middle section of the of the flower bed being sure to cover all bare areas of the fabric. I’ll leave a small area near the far side of the fabric bare for my next section of landscape fabric to overlap. When applying mulch, be sure to apply liberally and evenly.


That’s pretty much all there is to it!  Continue this process until you have everything covered.


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