Last updated on November 21st, 2022
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I recently installed and did a review on watering systems for beds, borders and hanging baskets. After putting that review together, I thought now would be a good time to do another guide on how I go about setting up a watering system for raised beds, as you can use the same watering systems depending on what you are trying to achieve and growing. I had also recently built 3 new raised beds and planted them up, and thought now would be the perfect time to show you which watering systems you can install in raised beds.
When it comes to the best water system for raised beds, you really have 3 options, the first is what I have recently installed and probably the best option, and this is a sprinkler system. I prefer to use sprinkler systems that allow me to adjust the volume of water from each sprinkler, this allows me to give more water to plants that need it and less to those that don’t. It also allows me to control how far the water spray reaches when at full pressure to avoid watering over the edges of the raised beds. I have long but narrow raised beds, so this was important to reduce water waste.
If there were just one watering system I could recommend, this would be it. This Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit, which I have personally installed and been testing for over a couple of years now and extended and installed in my latest raised beds. They also have adjustable nozzles (they’re also easier to clean as they unscrew apart easily).
I also like that the parts are made from quality plastics and not the usual cheap brittle plastic many watering systems are made from. Don’t be fooled by cheap watering systems, most are just a complete waste of money. For me, this is the system I would recommend for most raised beds, and it’s easier to install when there is not much plant growth to work around.
Because it uses the standard 15mm (13mm inside) piping, I was also able to attach a few drippers which use micro piping as shown above and attach the micro tubing to the 15mm pipe to water some containers next to the raised beds.
This is good as I also have a separate micro drip system I installed for watering containers and baskets only. This allowed me to use both large 15mm piping with sprinklers and drippers on the same watering system where my current micro drip system simply couldn’t reach.
Overall, I think it’s a great watering system, easy to install, and no tools are needed. The sprinklers even make their own holes into the piping when you screw them into place as shown in the picture below. Just position your hose and sprinklers first, so you get them positioned correctly the first time. You do get some spare plugs to plug any holes you might make in the wrong place. Ideally, you want to use them as a last resort so just take a little time to plan and double-check before installing the sprinklers.
You get 15 sprinklers, 15 meters of hose and everything you need to attach it to your outside tap or water timer, which is what I use to automate the watering fully.
Now let me talk quickly about water timers before I get into the detailed reviews further down. I have tried a few water timers over the years, but I have two that I would recommend, and I currently use both.
The first is the LinkTap Wireless Water Timer pictured above, this piece of tech is amazing. I have a review here if you are interested. It’s expensive, but it gives me full control, and I wouldn’t be without it now.
Now, if you need a simple water timer with no fancy features just set the time, and watering schedule and thats it. Then I really like these Orbit Water timers, which I have used for years. These are affordable, well build and do everything most gardeners need. I have a detailed review here.
Should you use a drip system for raised beds
Usually, I don’t really install drip systems inraised beds as I prefer adjustable sprinklers although I have installed the occasional dripper into a sprinkler system as discussed earlier.
However, drip systems can have their place when you need to direct water to certain parts of the raised beds rather than watering it all. An example of this is when you have a raised bed which has specimen shrubs or maybe miniature fruit trees, basiclly large individual plants rather than a lot of perennials or bedding plants.
In this case, I like to install a micro drip system because I can direct water to the root of each plant. I also like to use a drip system with adjustable nozzles to control how much water each plant gets. For example, my Lavatera often needs more water than many other kinds of plants as they have a tendency to wilt. Being able to give individual plants different amounts of water is very useful in these situations especially when you can have the dripper right at the base of the plant.
Watering System For Raised Bed Reviews
1. Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit
The Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit is a great choice for watering raised beds because it’s a modular system that can be altered to your specific needs in terms of length and shape.
I recently purchased this kit to install in my new raised beds and I have to say, I have been very impressed. Lots of watering systems usually feel cheap, using brittle plastic parts but all the parts included in this kit do seem to be of very good quality, and the design is well thought out too.
This kit includes 15 meters of piping and 10 sprinklers, not only does it include everything you need to attach it to a hose pipe using the quick click connections but it also includes everything you need to connect it directly to an outside tap.
In terms of what size area you can water with this kit, I used it with three 5 meter long raised beds so it will cover a straight run of 15 metres or 10m2 of beds and borders. It also includes a T-section and end stop and a few hole sealers should you install a sprinkler, make a hole and then change your mind. Try not to do this!
All you basically need to do to set this watering system up is position your main Flexi pipe where you are going to use it. It’s easier to roll it all out first and get it nice and straight.
Once you are happy with where you have positioned it, you can attach the sprinklers and I strongly recommend positioning the sprinklers where you think you need them before attaching them properly. I recommend spacing them about 1 meter (100cm) apart.
The sprinklers simply push onto the pipe, you then press the yellow tab in and rotate the grey section clockwise. This drives a spike into the pipe which is hollow and is how the water makes its way from the black piping to the sprinkler, the design is actually very good, I’ve not seen any other sprinkler system use this type of system.
All you need to do then is drive the spike into the soil to hold the sprinkler in position.
Next, attach the correct fitting to be able to fasten it to your hose pipe (as I have done in the picture above), or alternatively, you can attach it directly to your outdoor tap or water timer. It includes everything you need.
Finally, you insert the end stop onto the pipe and fix that into position by screwing it on tightly.
And that’s it, it is ready for you to use, simply rotate the sprinkler heads to adjust them as needed.
I also like that it can also be expended if you buy several kits or you can simply order more tubing and drippers from Hozelock. It will even work with many other third-party systems, which means it can be added to an already installed system that may not be part of the Hozelock brand. This is handy for me because my family owns a nursery and I was able to get extra tubing and drippers, the ones they use commercially, to use as well.
It is easy to set up thanks to its push-fit design and it only took me around 15 minutes to install the kit on 3 raised beds, each 5 meters long. This is something that can be more difficult with other watering systems where you need certain tools and to soak the piping in hot water to push into the sprinkler tubes etc. This is a big plus, especially if you don’t already have experience in setting up a watering system because it can be quite daunting at first.
The hose is also flexible and this makes it easier to install around corners without creating any leaks because no corner adaptors are required unless you need to do a very sharp right angled turn, which usually isn’t the case.
I will point out that it’s best to install these systems on mild days because if the temperature is very cold, the Flexi pipe becomes much stiffer and harder to position, when it’s not so cold it becomes much more supple and easier to work with.
It is possible because I installed this kit in my garden on a very cold day but from experience, it’s much easier to straighten, bend and position the plastic piping when it’s mild.
Now one of the features that really separates it from most of the other systems out there is the ability to alter the amount of water each individual dripper gives. This means that if you have a raised bed and have both established and younger seedlings, you can alter the drippers to give off more water to those plants that need it and less to those that don’t, such as newly planted seedlings.
I also like that you can rotate the sprinkler head 90 degrees and it turns into a dripper, instead of a sprinkler. This is also a feature I find useful depending on what it’s watering and you can simply rotate the black nozzle to alter the amount of water it lets out.
If you want to fully automate the watering (as I have) then all you need to do is add a water timer. You could even take this one step further by using a smart water timer, however, a simple quality timer, like the Orbit model I use and recommend, will be good enough for most people and it is super reliable.
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- Each nozzle is adjustable so you can water at different rates to different plants.
- Compatible with other watering kit systems and can be extended.
- Easy to set up thanks to the push-fit design.
- The hose is made of flexible material for easy installation.
- Covers an area of 10m2.
- Provides good value for money.
The Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit is an affordable and reliable system for those in search of a watering system for their raised beds. The fact that it is compatible with other systems makes it easy to work with if you already have a system of some sort installed.
What I really like is that the individual drippers can be altered to water at different rates, plus you can rotate the sprinkler 90 degrees and use them as a dripper instead. This is obviously a big advantage to avoid overwatering or watering some plants too little. I also love that it’s easy to extend if needed, and you can also extend it with a different drip system, such as drippers on the ends of micro tubing that are handy for watering pots and baskets should you need to.
Overall it’s a good quality watering kit with everything you need, minus a timer, and if you want to automate it fully, you will need to pick up one of these separately. It’s super easy to install with no special tools or skills needed. I really do think this is one of the best watering systems currently available.
Read next: How to set up an automatic watering system
2. Hozelock Easy Drip Micro Watering Kit
First things first, I usually use this Hozelock Micro Irrigation drip system to automate watering hanging baskets and potted plants. However, as mentioned briefly already, it also works well for watering raised beds because you can move the drippers around to where you need to water.
You have the freedom to make the drippers as long as you need but a feature I think is really useful is the ability to adjust the amount of water that drips out. This for me is the key selling point when choosing a drip system. Can it adjust the water flow to each individual plant? this goes for sprinklers too.
I also like that unlike the 15mm piping that most sprinklers use, this system uses micro piping and can be easily hidden at the edge of the raised bed. You then just need to have separate micro piping coming off to each individual plant.
The kit comes with 15 meters of microbore tubing and 15 drippers. This is more than enough for a fairly large raised bed as it would water up to 15 large specimen plants.
All you need to do them in attach the end of the micro tubing to the outside tape or water timer with the included fitting as shown in my picture above.
Add your T pieces so you can attach short sections with drippers attached and you can have it set up in around 30 minutes.
- Ideal for watering specific plants in raised beds and being able to adjust the amount of water each plant gets.
- Easy to set up drip system with 15 meters of micro bore tuning.
- Includes 15 adjustable drippers to water where needed.
- Can be connected to other drip systems or extended.
- Gives good value for money.
The Hozelock Micro Irrigation drip system is ideal if you want to use a drip system to water a raised bed. Now, this sort of system is usually used with pots, but it works really well for borders in specific situations.
3. Irrigatia SOL-C12 Unique Solar Powered Weather Responsive Automatic Watering System
Best system to connect to a water butt
The Irrigatia SOL-C12 Unique Automatic Watering System waters your plants every three hours, ensuring that they remain fully hydrated. The feature I really like here is that it only waters when needed and will not water when it’s raining. The sunnier it is, the more your plants are watered. It’s not perfect but for a standalone system, it’s a good design.
This watering system relies on solar power to operate the pump that supplies water to the plants, but this is backed up with batteries too which was my main concern. This system is designed to be used with a water butt, so it is ideal if you have a raised bed but don’t have easy access to an outside water tap or you collect a lot of water from your roof. As it waters automatically based on the weather, it is also pretty much totally hands-off. You can even use it in a greenhouse because the solar pump and control system would be outside, but the watering system would be inside the greenhouse.
This system also comes fitted with a water level sensor that will notify you to refill the water butt by making a beeping alarm, again a handy feature. You could even hook it up with a small stream or pond to avoid running out of water too since it uses a pumo and is not just gravity fed.
The watering system comes with 12 drippers and 14 meters of tubing. For a raised bed it would obviously depend on how far you want to spread the drippers and the layout you choose.
- Waters automatically every 3 hours, more when it’s sunny and not when it’s raining.
- Ideal for automating watering if you go on holiday.
- It is solar-powered, therefore, no electricity bills.
- Easy to set up and connect to a water butt or tank.
- No outside tap needed.
- It comes with a water-level indicator sensor, so you know if the water butt becomes low on water.
- Provides good value for money.
- Not compatible with other watering systems.
- Instructions can be a little confusing.
For those looking for a solar-powered automatic watering system and perhaps you don’t have easy excess to an outside tap and want to connect to a water butt or tank, you cannot go wrong with this model.
The instructions are perhaps a little confusing so a little tip is to watch YouTube videos that are helpful. This model operates well if you’re away from home and want a system that only really waters when it’s sunny and not when it’s raining, like a system connected to a water timer would do unless you had a smart water timer like I do.
Overall, it’s a great system, connect to a water butt and when it’s sunny it will water more when it’s raining it won’t. No water timers are needed, and it’s fully automated, so you can go on holiday for a week without having to worry about your plants wilting. The only limitation is that you’re limited by the amount of water in the butt but most will last a couple of weeks.
Read next: Best raised bed kits
4. Esotec Solar-Bewässerungs-Set Automatic Water System
The Esotec Solar-Bewässerungs is another solar-powered watering system that is a good alternative to the Irrigatia SOL-C12 Solar Powered Watering System and it has slightly more drippers, 15 in total as opposed to 12 drippers. This affordable model not only waters your plants twice a day, but you can also set the timer to run between 30 seconds and 12 minutes by simply adjusting the timer switch. What it can’t do, however, is just water when it’s sunny, and this is why I didn’t choose it as my runner-up. Still, it’s a good system worth considering.
The water system draws water from any source such as a water butt, tank or large bucket, or even a natural source of water, and uses its pump to draw the water up and water your plants as programmed.
If the water level is too low, the pump has a sensor that cuts off the supply to the plants which helps prevent damaging the pump. This prevents the pump from overworking and being damaged. Now it does have an LED warning to let you know but no audible warning.
It offers a maximum flow rate of 14 litres per 24 hours and this is an adequate amount of water for your plants to stay hydrated.
- Automatically waters twice a day, between 30 seconds and 12 minutes.
- 15 drippers included.
- Relies on solar energy therefore no impact on your electricity bill.
- Very easy to install and the piping can be cut to length.
- Comes with a pump to draw water from various sources.
- Features a control dial to dispense different amounts of water.
- It’s maybe a little smaller than you might have expected.
The Esotec Solar-Bewässerungs is perfect if you are looking for a solar-powered watering system for a small garden or raised bed.
In addition, the water inlet hose is fairly short, so you may have to find a creative way to ensure the pump has access to water at all times unless you have a water butt or water source next to your raised bed already. However, for a lot of people, I know this won’t be the case so just something to consider.
Overall it’s a great system, a little more restricted than my Runner-up, by the fact that it waters every day, twice a day, and although you can reduce the watering, it still comes on if it’s raining and this is something the Irrigatia SOL-C12 doesn’t.
5. Bradas Soaker Hose
The Bradas Soaker Hose is made from a durable and flexible recycled rubber that allows water to seep through slowly. All you need to do is connect the soaker hose to an actual hose pipe using a Hozelock connector or something similar, the type you use to attach a hose gun to a hosepipe and let the water travel through the entire tube for as long as you think is needed. This can be automated further by using a water timer. Now I have used these soaker hoses in the past and I find there best slightly positioned under the soil.
You just need to be careful not to damage it will a trowel or spade etc if you do this.
What I really like about this system is that it can also be buried below the soil level out of sight, or left on the surface of the soil and pegged down.
- Made from durable rubber that has been recycled.
- Can be buried below the soil for a more permanent set up.
- Provides good value for money because it is durable.
- They provide excellent customer support.
The Bradas Soaker Hose is a durable product that you can use in a small or large raised bed. It is best installed underneath the surface of the soil, but it does work just as well on the surface. I just like the idea of being able to hide the watering system and not have pipes on show.
Read next: Best soaker hoses reviewed
Selecting the best way to water raised beds will depend on the size of your raised beds, whether you want a fully automated system with some sort of water timer, a way to water automatically and the plants you are growing. Some plants need a lot of water such as lavatera and some need occasional water and maybe prefer a dryer environment.
Here are a few other considerations to make before you select the best raised bed automatic watering kits.
Do you want to use solar power?
How is the watering system powered? Does it rely on solar energy? Or does it need batteries? Perhaps it’s just on a timer or you don’t mind manually turning it on. For me, I would prefer a timer with more control over when to water and possibly with rain delay models that check the forecast and delay watering if needed.
Sprinklers, drippers vs a soaker hose
Sprinklers, drippers and the soaker hoses all make for a good watering system depending on the size of the area to be watered and what you’re trying to achieve.
Sprinkler watering systems cover both large and small areas with ease. Some come with individually adjustable nozzles and a backflow valve to make sure the water is distributed equally.
Now drip systems deliver water directly to the roots thus maximising water consumption. They work great on slopes and they can incorporate timers to deliver water at specific times of the day which can be very handy. If you use a smart water timer you can potentially even water when on holiday and get a warning if there is a leak or a loss in pressure.
Soaker hoses are mostly made from polypropylene that has holes to let water seep in. These soaker hoses are inexpensive and they can be buried slightly below the ground to deliver water to the roots without getting the leaves wet and it also means the pipes are out of sight. They are quite convenient for simple watering activities but they are unable to water different plants at different rates. They work well if you want to install a watering system and then plant the raised bed with more permanent plants and shrubs.
The best watering system will be able to work with other watering systems and if you already have an old network of watering systems, your new one should be able to connect to the old system seamlessly. You can use different drippers without any issues because the system is designed to retain pressure regardless. A good example would be our best pick which is compatible with most other standard watering system setups. It basically means that the tubing and accessories are universal. Basically, if the watering system uses 15mm piping or miro tubing, should be able to tap into an existing water ng system. You might just need a few accessories to connect them together.
In many situations, installing should not be an issue. The only issue one might face is with cheaper kits that are made from low-quality plastic that quickly become brittle and difficult to assemble, and the parts supplied are not a true push-fit so may not connect to other watering systems eaily.
However, some rigid kits and hoses make the desired layout difficult to attain because the materials used are cheap. Avoid these at all costs.
Timers and sensors
Watering systems that have pumps in, in most cases, will come with a sensor. The sensor picks up the information in regards to the water level and shuts off the pump or alerts the user using an alarm or LED if the water becomes too low.
Timers are very important when you need your plants to be watered daily at a specific time and you cannot manually turn the water on or simply want to automate the watering.
Most systems can be attached to a timer and connected to an outdoor tap. However, solar-powered systems that connect to a water butt will automatically water when sunny or a couple of times a day at the length of time you have programmed into it. You can’t set them to water at certain times like you can with a water timer.
How to optimise on your watering system
- Always check if any of the sprinklers/drippers are blocked with soil and unblock them because they will prevent the plants from getting water.
- Cover your watering system with mulch to protect the structure from the damaging sun and to conserve water that may be evaporating.
- The drip lines need to be secured with well-spaced stakes.
- If your system has a filter, and most do that take water from a water butt, clean them regularly or switch them out if it becomes too old.
- Disassemble the drip system when it is not in use for long periods of time to prevent the emitters from being clogged over winter.
Keeping your raised beds well-watered and healthy throughout summer will be rewarding when you get to harvest those fruits or eat your homegrown vegetables.
What system you choose really depends on whether you want to fully automate the process, whether you want to use drippers that can be adjusted independently and whether you want to connect your system to an outside tap or use a water butt where this may not be possible.
I’m still sticking to my top picks including the Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit which is great if you want to adjustable the drippers individually and connect to an outside tap with the possibility of adding a timer.
The Irrigatia SOL-C12 Unique Automatic Watering System is also a great pick if you want to fully automate the watering and want to connect to a water butt and make use of solar power. Now I would recommend this for occasional use. For long term use, I would probably consider using a different system and investing in a smart water timer and sprinkler kit.
Last update on 2023-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API