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

July 13, 2016

Using a misting system in your garden

One of the tricks that I've used for years here in my garden in Glendale, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix) is a misting system.

It's an ordinary misting system, like the kind you see on patios spraying water to cool off people, except that mine isn't overhead, it's underground. And it really does make a difference to the plants, especially newly-planted ones, in the summer.

The problem that I discovered when I first tried it was that the misting heads would get clogged. After all, they were on the ground. And you could see the water line, which was ugly. So I discovered risers. That's what the picture at the top of this post is.

I started with inexpensive plastic risers, and then I started investing in the copper ones. And they are expensive! I can sometimes find them at my local Home Depot, but mostly I've had to order them online. They're copper, so they start out very shiny and visible, but they dull down nicely after exposure to the air and water. In fact, they get so invisible that I now make a point of putting a rock next to them, so I don't accidentally kick them (although I still do!).

They're about three inches long, so the line can be buried, and the risers stick up a couple of inches. And speaking of expense, I also keep a supply of the mister heads around. I used to try to clean them when they clogged, but it was a lot of trouble for very little effect, and after a while the water simply widens the hole, so instead of getting a nice spray, it sends up a thin stream of water into the air, which I don't want.

Like my watering system, it's connected to a simple battery-powered timer. In the summer I have it set to come on for fifteen minutes several times a day, and in the winter it's off.

I enjoy fussing with this kind of stuff, and this type of system requires constant maintenance. The mister heads clog, and need to be replaced, someone knocks them over with their clumsy feet (me!), or I forget where the line is buried and I accidentally cut into it while digging. I keep repair parts around!

I try to walk the line when it's running to check for problems. Underground leaks show up as small puddles, and clogged mister heads means that I need to replace them. They also start out shiny and dull down (you see why I accidentally kick them?). I know where the line is (at least I think I do!) and I look to see if an area isn't getting sprayed. The Woman in my Life has sharper eyes than me, and often she finds things that aren't working right. I enjoy fixing them, and getting all dirty and muddy! I guess I'm still a kid who likes to play in the dirt.
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