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There’s nothing nicer than some flowers and ferns on your balcony or patio; they elevate a barren slab of concrete and railings to a living, oxygen-fresh place of relaxation. Unless, of course, you forget to water them. Then they turn your hangout into what Audra calls a “mortoretum.” I like my friend Doug’s solution better: install a low-buck automated watering system.

You don’t even have to jury-rig something together. All the parts are available online or at your local big box. Doug selected the Raindrip system, starting with the R673CT digital water timer. It installs via garden-hose-standard threads, so you can just slap it on an outdoor faucet if you have one. Doug’s place is a second floor apartment, though, so he got a little more creative, inlining it between the water source and input on his balcony closet-mounted water heater. You could easily tap this into any available water source with off-the-shelf fittings, though.¬†Next he picked up 100′ of 1/2 hose (also Raindrip) and a series of barbed tees and other connectors to route water to Raintrip in-line drippers in each of the various plants.

Now he just programs in watering times and amounts and he’s good to go, even when he takes a week off to visit friends out of town. The only really expensive part of the setup is the timer, which runs around $30. $18 buys 100′ of hose, and connectors and fittings are so cheap they only come in 25-packs, starting at around $4 for tees and ranging up to around $11 for drips. Even if you need to buy a few fittings to hook up to your water source, you should be able to rig up a system similar to Doug’s for under $70.

Raindrip R673 Digital Water Timer
Raindrip 052010P 1/2″ by 100′ Poly Hose [What’s This?]
Raindrip 307025B 1/4″ Barbed Tee (25 Pack) [What’s This?]
Raindrip 117025B In-Line Drippers (25 Pack)
Lots of Raindrip Hardware [What’s This?]


4 Responses to Project: Save Your Plants W/an Automated Drip Watering System

  1. Blind says:

    It’s also almost too easy to make knock off Earth Boxes at home using 5 gallon buckets or rubbermade containers. I’ve been growing some sage and peppers in one since xmas and they are all growing strong.

  2. Brau says:

    I can’t agree more. I’ve been using RainDrip and their lowflow sprinklers for over 20years now. I use cheap battery powered Orbit timers to program the times for early morning. It is (was) so easy that I am always amazed at how much time (and water) I wasted moving big sprinklers around. There’s none of the hassle of running underground sprinklers and parts are dirt cheap if broken.

  3. rob says:

    the only flaw I saw is he has put his timer on the drain of his hot water tank not sure how that timer is going to like that much heat all the time

    • Doug says:

      I agree Rob! When I get a little time I’m going to solder a few fittings together and run the water supply from a cold water line (I’m renting so I’m trying to do what I can without chopping into water pipes!), but so far all seems okay!

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