Garden Thorn Irrigation System: Product Review
A novel idea born from the need for root irrigation and easy use of a standard garden hose.
Plants need water at their roots, not on their leaves. And watering just under the surface with a slow drip simply is more efficient. Water applied above the surface evaporates and dries more quickly, for instance. And any time irrigation water sprays through the air, you lose precious water to evaporation.
Knowing this, a team of inventors called “The Steel Table Group” came up with the Garden Thorn, a handy and inexpensive way to water plant roots with a slow drip through a regular garden hose. The idea was born from a trip to Israel and the observation that the country produces crops such as flowers and tropical fruit despite its less than tropical location.
When I received the product to review (all of the Garden Thorns seemed to be in good condition in the package), I had one of those “Why didn’t I think of this?” moments. Let’s see whether the Garden Thorn’s performance held up to the brilliance of the idea.
SIMPLE BUT SMART
The Garden Thorn premise is a perfect idea for the desert Southwest, where annual rainfall can average only 9 to 18 inches. To use the product, all you need is a regular (even inexpensive) garden hose, an end-cap for the hose and enough Garden Thorn spikes to provide water to the plants you’re caring for.
I received a set of 20 Garden Thorns and a free hose for the review, so setup was easy. The only delay I had was finding an end-cap for the hose to stop water from running out the open end. Hose or drip system end-caps are not standard household items for many people. We didn’t have one on hand, but I added a spare splitter to the end of our hose and just turned it off to stop the water flow at the hose’s end.
Garden Thorn sent no literature explaining how the product works, but a quick view of their website provided a video and all the information I needed to install the system and understand how it works to water plants. I chose to run the hose on a bed of our xeric (requires only a small amount of water) garden with a mix of established plants and some annual flowers we planted just for this season. We had been watering the area by hand using rain water and a pail.
I laid out the hose overnight to allow it to flatten and make installation easier. Our faucet is far from the area, but I used a quick connect for the Garden Thorn hose and the hose from our well head to make connection simple for each use. After running the hose through the bed, I laid out the Garden Thorn stakes to match the plants I needed to water regularly and then went back to hammer them in.
A simple rubber mallet worked for most of the installation, but I had to use a metal mallet in a few rocky areas. You can fold a towel on top of the Garden Thorn to prevent damage if using a regular hammer or metal mallet.
The Garden Thorn does not require digging, and the spikes are relatively easy to pull up and move if you change your mind or bed layout.
I buried the hose slightly, although mulching over it would better hide the hose and help retain even more moisture.
The Garden Thorn spikes provided great and lasting coverage for watering the plants in our garden bed. Be sure to follow manufacturer directions on water pressure (one-third to one-half of full pressure). Our well faucet can be difficult to regulate and I sent too much pressure to the hose on my first run, which sort of lifted the hose out of the ground (but not the spikes).
A few of the Garden Thorn spikes did not seem to deliver water. In one case, I simply punctured the hose again, which solved the problem. In another, I had to replace the spike; the first one I put in seemed to be clogged up. But that might have been something I did in the installation. Overall, the watering seemed evenly distributed along the hose. Although I didn’t try the Garden Thorn with rain water, it likely would work with a cistern or a hose attached to a standard rain barrel that is slightly uphill from the area being watered.
It’s really dry in New Mexico and I love that the slow soak of the Garden Thorn kept plants damp for two days. It also delivered water to the roots of new plants, all of which survived a mid-to-late summer planting. The system was much easier to install and test than a standard drip system.
I’m not sure why the hose didn’t always puncture; a few of the thorns could be bent slightly, or I might not be pressing the hose down correctly.
If you only need to water one bed or area, the Garden Thorn is plenty convenient. But if the area being watered isn’t near a faucet, or you can’t leave it permanently connected, then it’s less convenient. We have to use our main garden hose for other plants or tasks, so have to then drag it back to the Garden Throne hose connection to water that area. Still, this was much less effort than hand watering or installing a drip system.
I would use a quick connection to connect the Garden Thorn hose to your main garden hose. If you have the Garden Thorns carefully placed and the hose is hidden from sight under dirt or mulch, twisting a faucet or hose onto the system each use would get old and might displace the loose end.
Add the cost of mulch if you want to hide the hose and Garden Thorns. Mulch is a smart move anyway, especially in dry climates. Of course, if you want to move the system or change plantings in a subsequent year, you’ll have to either patch holes made in the first installation or use a new hose. You also might want to purchase additional Garden Thorns.
The Garden Thorn is an efficient watering system that is physically (and mentally) easy to install and understand. It does a good job of watering new or established plants in areas that are easily accessible by the faucet or a hose connection. Ideally, leaving the hose attached is the simplest solution; if not, using a quick connector is a good option. You’ll need to buy a light- or medium-duty garden hose to use with the “thorns” and, because each thorn punctures the hose to allow water to flow through the thorn and into the ground, you’ll have to patch the holes or buy a new hose if you change the watering configuration.
30-day money back guarantee. 1-year warranty on entire system as long as the customer pays the shipping charges back to The Handy Camel.
Where to Buy
Garden Thorns only appear to be available directly from the Handy Camel website. A pack of 20 stakes costs $38.99, plus shipping. The company also sells 40-, 60- and 80-pack sets that range from $76.98 to $152.98, plus flat-rate shipping for all Garden Thorns of $4.95.
And now, over to you – what is your preferred method of watering? Have you used something like the Garden Thorn before? Let us know in the comments below!
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