This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area



March 13, 2016

The two watering systems in my desert backyard garden


I have a tiny backyard in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, which I call "the Tropical Paradise". When I first moved into the house, however, the backyard was just dirt, rocks, and a few dying plants. So calling it "the Tropical Paradise" from the beginning was me just being sarcastic. But over the years I've transformed this little space into an oasis. It uses very little water (I'm stingy), and I grow plants like cycads, miniature palms, and cannas. And there are a lot of tricks "behind the scenes" - such as the dual watering system.

When I first started trying to grow stuff I just sprayed water all over the place. Of course, plants need water to grow, but water in the desert is precious, and expensive, so I tried to find other ways to deliver the water, without wasting it. What I discovered was a "drip system" (the one on the right) which is a low-pressure watering system that delivers water through little teeny-tiny sprayer heads that are hidden all over the garden. As you can see, it's on a timer, so I change it depending on the season. And really, that's all you need. It's a very basic system that you can get at Home Depot. It requires no skill to install, because, well, I installed mine!

But I also liked the idea of adding more humidity to the plants, with a misting system (that's the one on the left). It's just an ordinary misting system, like the kind that restaurants put along the tops of patios, and it sprays out a fine mist. Except, of course, my misting system is on the ground. The mister heads are up on 3" risers, and when the weather is hot and dry (which is quite often here!), the misters come on, and the plants get more water and more humidity. Like I said, it's a tiny amount, but this is a tiny garden. Yeah, this won't work if you have several acres!

My whole garden is a "fussy" garden - a place that I am constantly puttering around in, trimming, etc. And the dual watering system takes constant maintenance - the watering heads clog, or they end up behind a plant that is suddenly blocking them, so I "walk the line" often. Personally, I find that doing this kind of stuff is good for my over-anxious personality, and has a calming effect on me, the best medicine that I've ever found.

By the way, you really can't see this area of the garden, unless you go behind the Cannas, so you probably wouldn't suspect all of the engineering that goes on back there. And that's the point - the engineering is hidden, so that all you just see is the garden.
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