7 On Your Side: Drip irrigation saves water, keeps plants alive

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Whether you have a huge yard or a few plants on your apartment's patio, you can make watering a whole lot easier. Here are a few options. (KGO-TV)

Whether you have a huge yard or a few plants on your apartment's patio, you can make watering a whole lot easier. Here are a few options for a wide variety of budgets.

Drip irrigation systems can be a gardener's best friend.

They save you water and also can prevent over-watering -- you don't need a lot of knowledge to install.

Tony Rea is with Lowe's. "They think that's complicated as underground plumbing and all that," said Rea. "This is a do-it-yourself project. Very easy to set up."

For under $50, you can get a Raindrip Automatic Watering Kit complete with a timer, the necessary tubing and drippers.

You can adjust each dripper accordingly, depending on the size of the pots.

"Even though these are different sized pots, they'll be watered at the same time -- the same time at different rates," said Rea.

If you're looking for even more automation, check out the Gro 7 Zone Controller and Water Sensor Starter Kit. Both are from ScottsMiracle-Gro.

You can get the two together for $250.

The sensors do a lot of the thinking for you. "Our sensor really helps people who may not have a green thumb," said Jessi Smith from ScottsMiracle-Gro. "It'll tell you when your plant needs water. So if you are not sure how much water to give your plant, this will take that guest work away from you."

The controller can control up to seven zones in your garden.

A free app will also send you alerts if you are overwatering or underwatering.

Master gardner Jack Cortis is a big believer in drip irrigation systems.

"Sprinklers waste water because it's not watering exactly where you want them to water," he said.

About a year ago, he installed the Smart Line drip irrigation system for under $300 and even received a $75 rebate from East Bay MUD.

Plug in your zip code and your controller will figure out the moisture content in the air and average temperatures.

An outdoor sensor also measures rainfall, atmospheric moisture and heat.

"It overrides your system. So if it rains today, depending on how much rain we get and the temperature for the next couple of days, it could shut off the water for three to four days," said Cortis.

Jack spent $3,000 putting in the irrigation lines in his large garden, but he figures he'll make it up in four years because he says the system saves him about $800 a year annually on his water bill.

Written and produced by Randall Yip

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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