Four years ago I made the best garden investment ever! I installed drip irrigation in my raised beds and all the flower beds. It has been not only a garden life saver but also a huge time saver for me. I had been spending about 6 hours a week hand watering the gardens and it was becoming a real chore. I travel quite a bit as a flight attendant and I couldn't always be home to water the garden or expect my husband or neighbor to do it either when I was out of town. I had been debating installing drip irrigation for a while and being neither handy or good with instructions I didn't think I could do it. It was a real surprise how easy installation was. Believe me that if I can do it anyone can do it! I used several starter kits from DIG Corp Drip Irrigation
and over a weekend my husband and I installed them in four different gardens and all twelve of my raised vegetable beds. We also installed water timers on the main spigots.
Each timer waters a different zone in the garden depending on what I have it set for. For the flower beds I have them automatically set to water 2-3 times a week in the morning. In the raised beds I have the timers running daily for about 20 minutes. I use micro sprinklers in the flower beds and drip soaker hose in the raised beds.
As the plants grow larger and when mulch is added the main hose is not really noticeable and the sprayers are not very obvious. The only problem I have is that there is no longer a local distributor for the DIG products and you'll have to order online. Home Depot does carry them on the West Coast but not in the Midwest. WalMart has it's own line of drip irrigation products and it's adequate but I prefer the sprayers from DIG.
I have become enamored of drip irrigation and I've installed it on all my patio pots as well as the hanging baskets on the front porch. I think once you try it you'll be a convert too. You may even find that you have time to spend relaxing in the garden. Now I just need to buy a bench!
For a quick guide to drip irrigation here's a link: DIG Corp Drip Irrigation Easy Guide