Auto Watering Set-up

Pitoon

Masterpiece
Messages
4,344
Reaction score
9,008
Location
Southern Maryland
USDA Zone
7b
So after looking over one of @markyscott threads a while back. He has an auto watering set-up that had me thinking I could make something similar to water the plants automatically, saving me quite a bit of time. I've been slowly gathering everything I needed to build a set-up for my tables. After a couple of designs I settled on what you see in the pics below. It's controlled on a simple Orbit watering timer. This is a test run on this table. If it works well, I'll start building set-ups for the rest of the tables.

20210814_165022.jpg20210814_161331.jpg
 

QuantumSparky

Shohin
Messages
295
Reaction score
272
Location
Eastern Pennsylvania, USA
USDA Zone
6b
That looks pretty cool! I don't have that many trees yet but I've been looking into DIY solutions. How long do you find that you have to leave that system running in order to have a full watering? I was considering something more along the lines of a drip irrigation system with hoses and sprayers that serve each individual pot and doesn't soak the foliage.

Let me know how your system works out!
 

Pitoon

Masterpiece
Messages
4,344
Reaction score
9,008
Location
Southern Maryland
USDA Zone
7b
That looks pretty cool! I don't have that many trees yet but I've been looking into DIY solutions. How long do you find that you have to leave that system running in order to have a full watering? I was considering something more along the lines of a drip irrigation system with hoses and sprayers that serve each individual pot and doesn't soak the foliage.

Let me know how your system works out!
I did a test run for 10mins and every pot was thoroughly watered. I have the timer set for 20mins @ 0700hrs, should be more than enough time to water and dry out by the evening. I like the drip line idea, but it will not work for me as I have hundreds of plants in small pots. Drip line for actual bonsai in bonsai pots is worth it, if you have a large enough collection.
 

Colorado

Omono
Messages
1,637
Reaction score
3,402
Location
Denver, Colorado
USDA Zone
5b
I tried drip line and I found it very difficult to get the entire pot watered evenly. I have an overhead system now.

@Pitoon what type of nozzles are those? I’m using Orbit fixed head 180 degree spray and I also find 10 minutes to be sufficient.
 

Pitoon

Masterpiece
Messages
4,344
Reaction score
9,008
Location
Southern Maryland
USDA Zone
7b
@Pitoon what type of nozzles are those? I’m using Orbit fixed head 180 degree spray and I also find 10 minutes to be sufficient.
The ones I'm using now are 1/2" Naan mister nozzles. These are used for propagation, and work perfect for what I'm trying to do. They mist 4ft in diameter and everything below that diameter gets misted. I tried Orbit 360 adjustable shrub heads but they are 8ft diameter and does not water below, just 8ft in diameter.
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,094
Reaction score
9,684
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Need to be aware that the finer the sprinkler output the more it is affected by wind. Hot windy days are the worst for bonsai health so that's the day you really need every plant to get a good dose of water rather than have it blow away. Microjets produce larger droplets but have slightly less even spread. I have yet to find the perfect heads for all occasions. Extra watering time can compensate for the days where conditions are less benign. Finer jets are also more prone to blocking up so check spray pattern regularly and have a few spare nozzles on hand to replace any that are not working as well as expected.
I've also always found some spots in the pattern that get more water and some that get less water depending how well the heads overlap so I move the plants so trees that like more are in the wetter areas and those that don't mind being drier are located near the edges and in spots that get less.
For all those reasons and a few more it is vital that automatic systems are installed and tested well before they are actually needed.
 

Pitoon

Masterpiece
Messages
4,344
Reaction score
9,008
Location
Southern Maryland
USDA Zone
7b
Need to be aware that the finer the sprinkler output the more it is affected by wind. Hot windy days are the worst for bonsai health so that's the day you really need every plant to get a good dose of water rather than have it blow away. Microjets produce larger droplets but have slightly less even spread. I have yet to find the perfect heads for all occasions. Extra watering time can compensate for the days where conditions are less benign. Finer jets are also more prone to blocking up so check spray pattern regularly and have a few spare nozzles on hand to replace any that are not working as well as expected.
I've also always found some spots in the pattern that get more water and some that get less water depending how well the heads overlap so I move the plants so trees that like more are in the wetter areas and those that don't mind being drier are located near the edges and in spots that get less.
For all those reasons and a few more it is vital that automatic systems are installed and tested well before they are actually needed.
I could not agree with you more! These misting heads are rated for 4ft diameter. In theory one would think two heads would be enough for a 4ft x 8ft table equally spaced. But since my tables are out in the elements and not covered in a green/hoop house I added an additional two heads to ensure good overlap. My plan is to test this setup for at least one month. If all is good I'll make more for the remaining tables this winter. Auto-watering should save me about 1hr+ of time per day once I get it up and running on all the tables.
 

andrewiles

Shohin
Messages
258
Reaction score
598
Location
Redmond, WA
USDA Zone
8
I've been pretty happy with Spot-Spitters and 1/8" irrigation tubing. Place one or more per pot, choosing the orientation and spray pattern as desired. Gives a bit more control than broad area overhead sprayers and pretty cheap still. Hooked up to standard 1/2" tubing and controlled via a b-hyve wifi timer. I like the latter because it connects to a hose faucet and provides watering notifications on my phone.

PXL_20210815_000303391.jpg
 

Maiden69

Chumono
Messages
615
Reaction score
715
Location
Boerne, TX
USDA Zone
8b
That set up looks nice, but like Shibui stated, the Naan misters are too fine, they are great for greenhouses, but outside, their fine droplets are no match for strong winds. I have a small set up with this sprinklers on the mid-big size pots, and this one for the smaller ones. I am completely redoing it at the end of the month with Drip Works spray sticks, mini jets, potstreams or micro jets for the trees, and some Senninger mini wobbler in the same set up you have to wet the area inside my above ground bed. I think you could use the mini wobblers to replace the Naan misters and will deliver a decent size droplet. Also, to combat the wind you can lower the height as well, that will reduce the spray radius but will ensure the water falls on your plants and not out of the bench and into the ground.
 

penumbra

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,913
Reaction score
11,094
Location
Front Royal, VA
USDA Zone
6
I am planning something very much like what Pitoon has done.
Where are you all getting your irrigation parts?
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
Messages
13,236
Reaction score
40,568
Location
B’ham, AL
USDA Zone
8A
I did a test run for 10mins and every pot was thoroughly watered. I have the timer set for 20mins @ 0700hrs, should be more than enough time to water and dry out by the evening. I like the drip line idea, but it will not work for me as I have hundreds of plants in small pots. Drip line for actual bonsai in bonsai pots is worth it, if you have a large enough collection.
20 minutes is a really long watering time; you may not need it. Right now, mine run twice a day for 4 minutes and everything is soaked.
 

Maiden69

Chumono
Messages
615
Reaction score
715
Location
Boerne, TX
USDA Zone
8b
I run mine once for 10 min, but the mini sprinklers I have don't put out that much water. I plan on running the system twice a day for 5 min each with the new set up. I forgot to add that I bought a single zone timer from Amazon with 3 programs, which allows for a decent watering in the AM and a light watering in the afternoon. They also sell a 2 and a 4 zone which I plan on buying once I expand my area to set up a misting station for the junipers and tropicals.

 

Ohmy222

Shohin
Messages
438
Reaction score
543
Location
Marietta, GA
I use these purple guys in the link below (smallest one), these have great coverage for such a small size and I can elevate them with simple risers without having to run PVC all over. I do have to replace them pretty frequently but they are so cheap and better than the other 10 options I tried before. I overlap them a lot because they do have a fine spray that could be a problem on windy days but it is not much of an issue. I am not a fan of the drip tubes but they are ok if you have just a few trees. Underneath my benches I have foggers for my cutting trays. Each on a separate timer. The sprinklers I normally do for about 15 minutes a day or twice for 10 minutes on really hot days. For the propagation foggers they go off every 2 hours for 1 minute in the summer.


The risers I use are these 36" steel risers

 

SquatJar

Seedling
Messages
21
Reaction score
41
Location
Adelaide, Australia
USDA Zone
10
I use Antelco downsprays, 2 per pot. Great even coverage and the 45o angle makes setting the height above soil easy. As they're so close to the soil they're hardly effected by wind. Really efficient too, 3x 3min runs in the morning spread out over 30mins, and also set up to come on for multiple 20-40s runs in the afternoon when its really hot and windy. I set a few upside down to work as large area misters and have micro valves to turn these off outside of summer.
 

Flowerhouse

Shohin
Messages
343
Reaction score
788
Location
Rawlins, Wyoming
USDA Zone
5a
I like the idea of a lawn sprinkler and a timer, the easiest of all the automatic sprinkler systems. Two problems with that system here: First, my bench is against my north fence and my neighbor's car is usually parked just the other side of that fence. Also, there's no reason to think that the 10 minutes I might run the sprinkler would be 10 minutes with no wind.
I tried setting up soaker hose on a timer. It got me though a weekend away, but as mentioned above it doesn't get the whole pot wet.
I am currently working on a system with 3/8 and 1/4 tubing and 3 different little sprinkler head types. I need to make my own pot stakes because the ones provided hold the heads so the spray pattern in a bad position. If I don't get this working the way I want I will look into the Spot-Spitters.
 

R3x

Shohin
Messages
312
Reaction score
502
Location
Slovakia, Central Europe
USDA Zone
8?
I have something very similar but using lawn sprinklers attached to the top of the poles to get rain-like watering. As I grow in pure Zeolite most of the plants I have set it up for 30-40 minutes every evening during the hottest days of summer. The flow of these is not affect by wind very much so that is of no issue.
 

Maiden69

Chumono
Messages
615
Reaction score
715
Location
Boerne, TX
USDA Zone
8b
Two problems with that system here: First, my bench is against my north fence and my neighbor's car is usually parked just the other side of that fence.
You can use shrub sprinklers set on your fence spraying towards your property, that's how I had my first set up.

I need to make my own pot stakes because the ones provided hold the heads so the spray pattern in a bad position. If I don't get this working the way I want I will look into the Spot-Spitters.
This is an option I was looking at but decided to use the spot-spitters because they have a down spray instead of 4 streams. What I like about those Antelko is that the feed line comes from the bottom, which looks tidier as you don't have this octopus of lines going all over your bench. If I ever decide to change the set up I would use those Antelko instead.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom