Irrigation systems

What irrigation system do you use to water your roses?

I have a lawn-sprinkler type system which can water my rose beds if I so choose. It’s overhead watering so I tend not to use it when the garden is in full bloom. It’s fully automated with an iPhone app, which allows me to water as desired when I’m out of town or on vacation.

Most of the time though I water by hand. I have a nice water wand from A.M. Leonard connected to a 100 foot Mozilla 5/8 inch garden hose. It puts out a lot of water in a hurry. I have about 220 bushes and it takes me roughly 2 hours to water all the roses.

Great question to ask!

Frank, When I was in Texas, I had an irrigation system with multiple zones and bubblers around the roses. I did not have that many roses (about 35) but it allowed automatic watering at the ground level and the bubblers gave me more water in the Texas heat. I used a Rachio 3 controller which was great. Full control, adjusts for the weather, WiFi, etc. Now I am in Kansas and plan to use a more normal drip irrigation system, still using a Rachio 3 to control all zones. More zones the better to have more fine-grained control.

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I used to have a dripper system. This was back when I had many, many roses and it was strictly a ‘rose garden’. I’ll be honest, I hated it when it was time to apply mulch or fertilizer… all those supply hoses getting in my way. I’d have to gather them all up and then lay them back out again. The good part was my water bill appreciated it.
These days, my gardens are mixed up everything, and I water with a sprinkler or by hand.

I use a drip irrigation system. Each bush has 1 or 2 Dripworks Shrublers. System is controlled by a multizone timer.

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I have a very simple irrigation system for our rose garden. It is simply a garden hose, a drill bit for making holes in the hose for spouts that I buy at Witherspoon Roses near Charlotte, NC. I think they still sell the spouts as well as plugs (in case you need to change the location of the spouts. I just rearranged our rose garden and will need to move around some spouts to water our current roses.

I use inexpensive soaker hoses since I only need irrigation for about ten weeks during summer. I do have timers for this type of irrigation.

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My hose is a Flexzilla - neon green and quite flexible for a 5/8" hose.

Dripworks system with main tubing and smaller, spaghetti tubing attached to it to go to each of 285 rose bushes. Spaghetti tubes are connected to main tubing with a choice of emitter sizes. I use 1/2, 1, or 2 gallon per hour emitters depending on the plant size and drainage situation. I have the Rachio app on my phone that turns it on or off remotely, even when traveling, or you can set up an automatic schedule like every 2 days, etc. Only problem is that emitters get clogged with soil and have to be replaced periodically or the main tubing springs leaks due to age or UV light breakdown and then it needs to be cut out and reconnected using their connectors. Overall, very happy with this for over 15 years.

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I have three systems per se. One is a water hose for part of the roses that are in pots. Relaxing to hand water. The large roses in the ground are all on a Hunter Node timer and shrub sprayer at the base. I can set the time, date, and how often to water. The Nodes come in 1, 2, 4, 6 stations. I don’t have power there so use the DC solenoids. My mini roses are on a drip system using emitter hoses, 1/2 gal every 6". I make a circle so the water can get to all the roots instead of a single drip which only covers one part of the plant.

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I have my 42 rose beds hard piped from a Rachio 3 controller, and have a ‘double knuckle’ swing arm in the bed where I can very easily adjust the height, direction and angle of the spray head, which I keep adjusted about 1/2" above the mulch. For the spray head I use Dramm Pin Perfect nozzles as they are the easiest to deal with the hard water here in SE Texas from my irrigation well.

Thank you, Earthworm, and everyone for your informative replies. I see the advantages of the drip systems. But I am concerned about how to apply mulch and fertilizer when the system is draped over the beds. Like Earthworm, I may decide against drip systems for this reason. Just how is mulch and fertilizer applied with a drip system?

When I had mine, I applied fertilizer at the root zone area of the bush, and I’d scratch it in with a small hand tool. I crawled around doing this. Trust me, I was a LOT younger and so were my knees…
I didn’t apply “mulch”, if by that you mean barkdust, I didn’t need things to “look pretty”, but every late winter I would end up pulling all the spaghetti lines up so I could put down compost, then I’d have to put them back into place… ugh…

Something else I noticed when I was using a drip system… I had spider mites. Bad. Back then I was spraying, but even still. I ended up going thru my beds with a hose and nozzle anyway, spraying my bushes quite thoroughly. At that rate, what was the point of having the drip system?
I pulled the drippers quit spraying and went back to overhead sprinklers. Not exactly ‘water-bill friendly’ but once my beneficial population came back I was okay.

Thanks for that very useful information. I hesitate to use my overhead watering system if the garden is in or near full bloom. Do you have the same concern? Otherwise, I like the overhead watering. Perhaps due to my location, spider mites are rarely a big concern for me in the Chicago area.

Well… if you are showing then yes, I suppose I would not! But I do not show, so I did not worry about water on blooms.
Also, in the heat of summer, water tends to dry up pretty quickly.

I don’t show anymore, but I have a number of whites and other light color blooms that seem to suffer a bit with spotting from the overhead watering. And then there is Pinkerbelle, whose blooms will spot if I even think about using the overhead watering :grinning:

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If I weigh the points against drip systems as well as the points against overhead watering, the result may be that the best system would be an underground plastic pipe that oozes water about 4 inches below the surface. The underground pipe system has its drawbacks as well. For example, when fertilizer is applied, it must be watered in. But the pipe is below and cannot water the fertilizer above it.
Any thoughts?

How would you keep it from clogging with dirt? Sounds interesting…

I believe the holes in these pipes are on the underside. The water pressure then pushes the soil away as the water flows or oozes out. The downside (sorry) is that the water flows away from the fertilizer above it. But previous feedings may leech down in time.