Outfitting Your Irrigation Tool Kit

Stock an irrigation tool kit to handle any minor repairs yourself.

OK, don’t roll your eyes. You can do this! Think YouTube!

Fixing you own irrigation is a good way to save some money — and save some plants because you can get back to watering before the irrigation technician can show up when the plants might be dead. You probably have a set of tools for tasks around the house. But you need a specialized kit to take care of your drip irrigation system.

You’ll spend a few bucks setting it up, but that greatly outweighs the cost and irritation of driving to the big box store and looking (without any help) to get the right parts when you need repairs. Plus, it seems that you can never figure out everything you need in one trip, so it usually takes at least two trips to get what you need.

To put my kit together I started at Cabela’s to get a fishing box with lots of compartments. I am a big believer in talking to people that know their stuff, so I went to Just Sprinklers to get all the parts I would need. I don’t have grass, so my list is just for the drip system. There are so many things that you might need to repair a lawn system— heads, pipe and valves — there is no need to try to stock the parts because the “Laws of Horticulture” clearly state, “You will never have exactly what you need.”

Here’s what I recommend. Get an irrigation drip line cutter. It makes a big difference, and helps keep the connections from blowing apart. (Don’t ask me how I know!) Invest in a hole punch to save your fingers and hands. You could use an ice pick… just have 911 ready on speed dial!

Get a spool of 1/4” tubing. Not the soft flexible stuff — the drippers can blow off. Get 1/2” and 3/4” couplers so you can replace a section of the main line when you puncture it planting or digging. Believe it or not there are at least three sizes of 1/2” line. But the folks at Just Sprinklers can direct you to “Shark Bites” that will solve the problem.

Now you’ll need some short pieces of 1/2” and/or 3/4” line to repair the damaged section. Get a packet of 1/4” barbed connectors to connect the 1/4” line (spaghetti tube) to the 1/2” line. Purchase small packets of 2- and 5-

gallon per hour drippers, and, if you want more control, look at Spectrum adjustable sprayer heads. You’ll need 1/4” plugs, 1/4” connectors, 1/4” tees, and metal stakes. I also have hose clamps that can adjust from 1/2” to 3/4” for added protection with tubes that want to leak or blow apart. Channel locks are helpful and so are gloves.

Mike Dooley is the designer and owner of Dooley Landscape Designs. Visit his website dooleylandscapedesigns.com.

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