Watering Your Foundation – A Permanent Solution

July 4, 2018

Several months back I wrote a post about Watering Your Foundation, after that I wrote  Watering Your Foundation – Getting Ready for Summer and in that post I promised a final follow-up on creating a permanent solution to creating a low maintenance solution that removes most of the problems associated with earlier solutions. Granted, this one is a bit more work and on a DIY scale of 1-10 10 being the hardest, I would give this a 7-8 (depending on what you may or may not already have. Since you have already read the last two, no need to go through the why and what for, but to just pick it up from the last post. Since the summer has set in, this might not be a good project to complete with the weather as hot as it is, but you can at least you can start plotting out the plan.

The biggest advantages to this solution vs. the last one is, convenience, and integration into a lawn sprinkler system.

Things you will need to for this to work with the least amount of inconvenience and disruption. This solution is based on having all three of the listed conditions. However, any of these items can be added, but it can dramatically impact the cost to provide it.

  1. Preexisting  lawn sprinkler system in good working order and a timer/controller
  2. The timer/controller will need to have at least one extra or vacant station assignment. If you have more station numbers than active stations you probably have an extra one.
  3. You will need to determine if you have a spare controller wire (in the controller) and you will have to locate that same wire outside.

The next step is to create a new zone or station on your lawn sprinkler system.  I will cover the basic process but if you have never really cut into your system, this might be the time to get some knowledgeable help or hire a sprinkler contractor to build you a new zone.

Create a New Sprinkler Zone

  1. Find a sprinkler zone  that has its control valve close to the house.
  2. Dig up the dirt around the control valve enough to expose the control valve and the associated water pipe that feeds the valve. Figure out which side of the valve has pressure on it (all the time).
  3. Determine that the spare wire you located in the timer/controller shows up here too! Us a volt ohm meter as a continuity tester to confirm.
  4. The pipe feeding the valve is under pressure, so you will need to turn the water off at the source before you do it.
  5. To determine which is the pressure side, there should be an arrow, or water flow indicator on the valve body.
  6. .Cut the pipe, Tee in a joint  to install a new valve.
  7. Install a drip zone flow control valve equipped with a filter assembly. This valve will keep the flow in spec as well as keep the emitter from getting stopped up.
  8. Extend a wire from the existing valve to the new valve including a common (usually white) and a new wire that you are picking up from the controller timer.
  9. Make sure the new valve is closed and turn the water back on and check for leaks.
  10. If you want to test it at this point, go right ahead, but realize if you did this correctly, it’s gonna get real muddy real quick.

Parts Needed for the Drip Emitter Foundation Watering System

  1. 1/2 poly hose to use for areas that do not need the emmiters
  2. 1/2 Emitter tube, used to circle the house
  3. Various connector/fittings. You will need some fitting to go around tight corners since the pipe does not make sharp corners as well as connecting to the valve.
  4. Landscape anchor staples; use to pin the tubing down in place while you are installing it.

Install the  System

  1. Dig a ditch from the new valve to about 12-16 inches from the foundation to conceal the feeder pipe so it will not be exposed to damage in the yard.
  2. Depth of new emitter hose is kind of “it depends”, so in other words, it can be on the surface or 3-12 inches below the surface. Either way, realize that when gardening or digging around the flower beds, if you hit the emitter pipe, you can easily cut it. So regardless of the depth, after gardening, run the section to identify any leaks.
  3.  Since you are probably 10 or more feet from the house, you may want to use 1/2 poly hose from the valve to the house foundation (unless the valve is already at the foundation, then you can just start with emitter hose). You can buy shorter lengths of this from the big box store, but depending on your house arrangement, you may want to use this pipe in places you do not need to water
  4. Connect the emitter tube and route through the landscape staying about 12″ from the edge of the foundation. This tubing is sort of stiff, so use a connector to make a sharp bend. Use the landscape staples to keep it in its place.
  5. There are no rules to stop you from installing a Tee and going both ways around the house, and if you have to branch out, that is fine too. 100 feet is the limitation of the emitter tube from the valve, but you can tee it in to two 100 ft lengths.
  6. Make the electrical connection at the sprinkler controller and program in the new zone. You can have a summer and winter time schedule, but its good to water this zone all year long, again to keep the soil close to a constant moisture level.



Solar Landscape Lighting – Upgrade

April 2, 2010


Hopefully you read my article on Solar Landscape Lighting.  In the article I described my journey to create a sustainable landscape lighting system using standard off the shelf landscape lighting fixtures and components, but with a twist. No AC and no transformer; just pure power from the sun. In the article I mentioned that I would probably upgrade the solar panel in the near future. Well sure enough, the future is here! Prices of components have continued to drop and I couldn’t pass up a deal on a 50W panel. In doing so, this allows me the ability to triple the number of the light fixtures. I had already sized the  solar controller and battery to accommodate the expansion. Night pictures are tough to take (for amatures) with a low cost digital camera but I want to show the results.  The above picture is of 5 standard landscape light fixtures with 21 pin LED bulbs using less than 10 watts total.  This is a vast improvement over any “off the shelf” solar landscape lighting system.

New Components:

  1. HQRP 50 Watt Solar Panel: At Amazon.com they are priced at about $160. The panel works great, but I had to rework the cable connectors as they use a unique connector that I was unable to match.  I used a marine grade connector instead.  If you remember; I started with a 15W panel that cost $100. This works out to about $3.2 per watt compared to $6.6 per watt with the old panel.

6 – 144940 20W  Manor House Light (no longer available, but any brand from a big box store that uses the MR16 style bulb base will work) Fixtures: individually priced at around $15, this box set of 6 drops the per fixture cost to less than $9. They are readily available at Lowes. Since wattage rating is not an issue; these fixtures are at the low end of the price point and easy to use. The heads are easily adjustable and the bulbs can be changed out without any tools.

  1. 6 – MR16 21 Pin LED Light bulb from LED-Mate: I am not 100% satisfied with this supplier but I have had fewer problems with their bulbs than others and they provide you a two year warranty. Their prices have continued to fall and are around $8. If you buy more, they will give you a price break.

This project started about 2 years ago, and the components have continued to get better in quality and the prices continue to drop. Granted, I have spent well over $1000 in creating this system, but with a lot of trial and error. If I were able to create the system from scratch using the components I currently have deployed  the cost of the system would look like this:


As mentioned, the 21 pin LED light bulbs do not have near the output light found in traditional landscape lighting fixtures so to create enough useable light, additional light fixtures are required. Adding 6 more fixtures to the system made a dramatic impact and at this point adding more fixtures will cost me about 20 bucks each since I have already incurred the cost of the system backbone.

Shoot me a note if you are considering a  similar project at homeownerbob@gmail.com.