While not technically necessary to an irrigation system, holding stakes can be thought of as the flourish that completes the project. Often referred to by different names, such as: hold-downs, fabric pins, staples, spikes or stakes, they serve as the anchor that keeps the system in its proper shape. This has a myriad of benefits to any irrigation system in which portions of it will be above the surface. They can increase the efficiency of an irrigation system and even protect the components from damage and clogging. They are extraordinarily economical from a price stand-point, and when the service they provide is factored in they offer one of the best returns on investment compared to any other accessory.
Not all tubing stakes and staples are created equal. It is important that the material construction of stakes is accounted for. Non-galvanized metals should not be considered for use in an irrigation system as they will begin to rust the moment they are exposed to moisture and oxygen. Given the abundance of both in an irrigation system, corrosion is inevitable. While iron oxide (rust) is not necessarily bad for plants, it certainly can be for people and pets. A corroded spike in the yard or field is a hazard easily avoided by choosing stakes constructed with durable and corrosion resistant materials.
The difference in cost between galvanized and non-galvanized stakes is easily made up when you consider that galvanized stakes are reusable for years to come. They have a wide variety of applications, so even if you no longer need them for irrigation, they are suited for other purposes. Some non-irrigation uses include: securing dog and electric fences, securing artificial turfs and securing perimeter wire.
The majority of stakes we carry at Drip Depot are made of galvanized steel, high quality polymers or steel. Galvanized steel means it has a protective layer of zinc applied to it; this layer shields the metal underneath it from the elements and also acts to slow down corrosion of the metal it is applied to. This delays the corrosion process by a significant degree. Polymer on the other hand, does not rust. Plastics can break down when exposed to UV radiation, however the stakes we carry are made from high quality UV treated polyethylene and high impact plastic. This significantly delays the breakdown process of the polymer molecules and provides for a long, durable life.
Given the function they serve and its importance to an efficient irrigation system, the cost of stakes or hold-downs makes them one of the least expensive purchases for the highest return on performance. Often when we make purchases we try to eliminate every item that is not strictly necessary; this is frequently a good choice, however, in this case, it must be weighed against the extra time and effort that will be spent rearranging lines, cleaning clogged emitters and weighing down landscape fabric.
The process of creating galvanized steel is inexpensive and stakes and landscape pins produced from galvanized steel often share a similar cost to their non-galvanized counterparts. This is largely true across several industries, but particularly with small consumer goods like landscape stakes. Even when the cost of non-galvanized steel is lower, it is unlikely to be significant enough to make it worth the cost. The exceptions to this rule are in cases where the stakes are only needed for a short time, will not need to be reused, and in cases where the quantity of units needed is extraordinarily large (even then, bulk costs of galvanized steel are frequently comparable to that of non-galvanized).
Stakes and hold-downs have sharpened points for easy installation in most soil types. For residential projects, the standard 12 to 11 gauge stakes will usually be more than sufficient; particularly rocky or dense soils can benefit from the thicker stakes. Longer stakes, 6” or more, are best for sandy and loose soils; some stakes come with ridges that also help with loose soil types, these can be shorter than 6” and still perform the duty due to the gripping ridges. “J” stakes (or “round top”), the type that are rounded at the top, are most often used to secure tubing or pipe, while the “square top” (or “staple”) types are most frequently used to pin down landscape fabric. It is perfectly acceptable to use J stakes to pin down fabric and square top to secure tubing in place, however. Stakes constructed from plastics are generally much wider and best suited to secure tubing rather than landscape fabric. The wide blades on these make them suited for all types of soil conditions though they can be difficult to insert into dense or rocky soils.
Not all stakes are designed to pin something to the ground. Many of the stakes we carry are designed to do the opposite and elevate portions of the system above the ground.
This can be emitters, microtubing, drip line, or even mainline tubing. This helps keep emitters (and/or drip line) out of the soil and helps stabilize microtubing (¼” or smaller) where it needs to be. While not technically stakes, tubing clamps with a nail are included here since they serve a very similar function in holding tubing in place. Tubing clamps with nails feature a short nail that allows the tubing to be secured to house siding or similar structures.
Securing Tubing and Dripline
The most common application for stakes is to hold poly tubing and poly drip line securely in place in the field. Without stakes, the tubing and dripline can experience significant movement when pressurized, including some twisting and snaking. This can cause drip line to move away from the plants it is intended to irrigate and can cause mainline tubing to pull other parts of the system out of their carefully arranged locations. When stakes are used, this careful arrangement does not end up in disarray with the system’s first pressurization. This is particularly true with the ends of mainline tubing and, to a lesser degree, fittings locations in the mainline, such as elbows, tees, and particularly end caps. Keeping the tubing and fittings from moving about during pressurization not only helps the system keep it shape but, more importantly, keeps fittings and emitters from getting dislodged due to the turbulence.
For sandy soils, one stake every 1' may be necessary; for denser soils (rocky, clay, etc) as few as one every 5' may be sufficient. The only tools needed for these tasks are a hammer and gloves.
Landscape Fabric Pin-Down
Square-top and staple type stakes are great for pinning down landscape fabric. With two
sharpened prongs and a ridge (on the heavy duty staple model), they pierce the fabric without making an excessively large hole. The square top provides a secure pin-down that will hold the fabric in place without causing undue damage to the fabric. Rocks are sometimes used as an alternative to stakes for landscape fabric, and while the weight does secure the fabric in place, it is not recommended. The additional labor of needing to move heavy rocks is superfluous given the availability of inexpensive stakes, and the risk of creating a large tear in the fabric increases significantly when using stone. Pinning landscape fabric in place is where non-galvanized stakes are often used since landscape fabric use is often temporary.
As noted above, stakes are sometimes used to elevate emitters off the ground. For drippers, this can keep them from becoming clogged from resting in the soil; for micro sprinklers, sprayers, and wobblers this is so their spray will reach a greater diameter and spray above the foliage.
Spikes, stakes and wire anchors have many other uses in which they can be employed. They can be used to pin down roots and vines until the plants are established; they can be used to fasten the bottom of a dog fence (or similar) to the ground; they can be used to secure synthetic turf or sod the ground. They can be used by hobbyists and DIYers in an almost endless amount of ways.
Tubing Clamps with Nails
One product that is not technically a spike or stake but is used for nearly the same application are our Tubing Clamps with Nails. These are used to secure tubing to a structure, such as the side of a house, the railing on a staircase, fence posts and any similar structure or landscape feature. This helps the system keep a neat and tidy appearance and holds the tubing in place so it can climb to reach elevated plants, such as hanging baskets and window boxes.
We currently carry three sizes of the tubing C-Clamps: 1/4" for microtubing, 1/2" for our .600" x .700" polyethylene tubing, and the Orbit 1/2" PVC Hanging Clamp for the Orbit misting kits.
|Polymer||How to Hold Down Irrigation Tubing (Plastic Stake)|
|Steel||How to Hold Down Irrigation Tubing (Steel Stakes)|
|C-Clamp||How to use a 1/4" C-Clamp in Drip Irrigation|
|How to use a 1/2" C-Clamp in Drip Irrigation|
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