Drip Watering in Terrace Gardens

Water is precious and in summers scarcity of water makes it’s even more sacred. When people are struggling for water for their daily requirements, it becomes our moral duty to save water in every way we can.

Drip watering in terrace gardens

This summer, I wanted to add some more plants on my terrace, but my husband’s concern was adding more plants will further increase the usage of water.

So, I asked him, “is there any way that we have more plants without increasing usage of water?” I already have made a practice of using left-over water (after cleaning vegetables) to water plants. But, any other idea to save water could have definitely helped.

Next day my husband brought few empty disposable saline water bottles. My first reaction was, “what these are for?”  In the past, he had used mineral water bottles to water plants and even tried his hand at making compost at home. He is always up with such eco-friendly ideas. So, I was wondering what he is up next with saline water bottles.

He was all smiling reading expression on my face and said, “Now you can add more plants”. He told me that he went to a nearby hospital and requested the staff to give him some disposed saline bottles which they readily gave him.

He had this innovative idea of using saline bottles to water plants. At first, I was not very convinced of using saline bottles at home because it looks quite weird. However, soon I realized it’s a very effective method involving minimum use of water while keeping plants fresh even in scorching hot summer.

Since this was my husband’s idea, I’m handing over to him to explain this innovative method of watering plants in any terrace garden.

Underlying Principle

This method of watering plants is nothing but drip irrigation in its elementary form. As the saying goes, “Water the Roots and Enjoy the Fruits”, in drip irrigation roots of plants are watered drop-by-drop.

It’s the roots that actually absorb water from soil and transport it to upper body (stem, leaves and flowers) of plant/tree. So primarily, just by watering roots, water needs of whole plant/tree can be satisfied. Below are few of the benefits of drip-watering:

  • This requires substantially less amount of water without impacting health of plants. In the conventional method, there is lot of water loss due to evaporation from the surface of soil. In hot weather condition, evaporation losses would be no less than 25%-30%.
  • In this method, since roots receive continuous supply of water (drop-by-drop), leaves and flowers don’t wilt even on hot days. On the other hand, if you are using conventional method of watering in morning, you would have noticed that due to hot weather, most of the times plants literally droop by evening .

Note – Surface of the soil may appear dry, but inside of it remains moist from where plant roots absorb water.

How to implement this in your garden?

It’s a very simple procedure with the only difficult part being sourcing of empty saline bottles (along-with tubing). However, you can go to any nearby hospital and request the staff to give some used saline bottles. These used bottles are any ways of no use to hospitals and they send these for recycling.

You can even tell them the objective behind these bottles, and I am sure they’ll be more than happy to help you. This was my personal experience when I requested the hospital staff for few bottles.

Now, after getting the bottles, first step is to thoroughly clean them with warm soap water. But, before that, just make a couple of inch slice-cut at the bottom of bottles (as shown below). This will enable easy-cleaning of bottles and it will be also used for pouring water in them.

Drip Watering - Bottle Opening

Hang the bottle and insert one end (inlet) of the tube inside the bottle (as shown below).

Drip Watering - Tube inlet inserted in bottle

Pour water in bottle and check that flow is proper through the tube. Ensure that flow-control slider is functioning properly (i.e. increasing and decreasing the water flow).

Now, dig a 2 – 3 inch deep and narrow hole in the soil and insert the other end of tube (outlet) in it (shown below). This will allow water to directly reach roots.

Drip Watering - Tube outlet inserted in soil

How to monitor?

You can manually change the flow (drop-by-drop) of water depending on the outside weather. For example, on hot days you can slightly increase the flow, while at night you may reduce or completely switch-off the flow depending on the external weather.

Another thing that I must mention is that sometimes due to formation of air-pockets in the tube, flow of water may completely stop (even if flow-control slider is at max flow level).

In this case, take out the outlet of tube from soil, clean it and shake the tube so that stagnant water in the tube passes out.  After letting the water to flow for few seconds, insert the outlet back in the soil.

Finally, I would like to say it’s quite an effective and economical method of watering plants in home gardens. This method can be even more useful for plants that consume more water.

Although, picture of saline bottles hanging in garden may not be that attractive, but nothing else matters as long as plants remain healthy with water being saved.

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