How to Build a Drip Irrigation System For Under $100
A drip irrigation system can save you time, money and conserve water. This drip irrigation system can be turned on and left to do its job without you having to stand over it to monitor its progress. Using water wisely with a drip irrigation system will produce a garden that will supply you with fresh vegetables for your family. Recently, I planted a garden in my backyard but was spending a lot of time and effort keeping it watered. My step-dad had built several drip irrigation systems from PVC pipe in his yard so with his help we built a drip irrigation system for my garden. Total cost of supplies was under $50 for a garden 15 ft x 15 ft. Approximate time to build this system was about 5 hours including the pick up of supplies. Below are the steps we took to build this system.
I would like to thank my Step-Dad for his help with this project. Thanks Dad!!
Measure your garden plot. You will need PVC pipe for each row of your garden. We used a 3/4″ PVC pipe for the main line running down one side of the garden and then attached 1/2″ PVC pipe (with T connectors) at each row using PVC cement. For each row you will need 1/2″ PVC pipe, one (1) “T” connector (not threaded) and one (1) End Cap. PVC couples will also be needed if you need to join more than 1 section of 1/2″ PVC pipe to extend the length of the row. (See list of supplies at the end of these instructions)
Start at the end of your 3/4″ PVC main line and attach a Elbow Couple or an End Cap can be used here. Then with a hacksaw cut your 3/4″ PVC pipe at the first row. Attach your “T” connector using PVC cement. Do this at each row. Keep your “T” connectors as level as possible to help maintain your flow of water. Do not attach your 1/2″ PVC drip pipe at this time. You will do this later.
Note: When attaching PVC pipe to the “T” connector, slightly sand paper the cut ends of the 1/2″ pipe to help join the pieces to the PVC “T” connector.
After all “T” connectors have been attached, measure your 1/2″ PVC drip pipe for your rows. If you need additional sections your can join the pipes using PVC 1/2″ couples and PVC cement. Adjust the pipe length to fit each row and add an 1/2″ End Cap to close the pipe at the end of each row section.
Lay each 1/2″ PVC row section out on a flat surface and using a drill motor and 1/8″ drill bit, drill drip holes 2 ft apart down the length of the 1/2″ PVC pipe. The smaller drip hole will cause slower watering and create pressure so that water will be carried down the rows and water the entire garden row.
After you have drilled the holes in each of the PVC row sections, lay the sections out by each “T” connector. Using your sand paper, sand the end of the first 1/2″ PVC pipe and apply the PVC cement. Quickly slide the 1/2″ pipe into the “T” connector.
Note: The PVC cement dries quickly so be ready to insert the PVC pipe into the “T” connector as soon as the cement is applied.
The final step is to connect the water hose to the 3/4″ main line. We put an elbow to the end of the 3/4″ main line and ran it up and wired it to the fence. Next we put a female hose connector to the end so that you could attach the hose without bending down. This female hose connector makes it easy to connect and disconnect the water hose to the drip system.
I have used this system several times now and usually turn the water on medium to keep the pressure flowing. The system waters the garden very slowly but deeply and I have left it for a couple of hours and not had any breaks in my row berms. This system can be designed to fit your garden, will not rot in the sun as some soaker hoses and can be easily added to or changed with a hack saw and some PVC cement. Note: Your drip system will water better if each pipe is laying as level as possible with the ground. Otherwise you will get more water in one row than in the other.
Supplies You Will Need:
3/4″ PVC – main line down end of row to faucet
1/2″ PVC – drip line for each row
“T” connectors (not threaded) for each row
End Cap for each 1/2″ PVC pipe
1/2″ Couples to connect 1/2″ pipe (if additional sections are added)
1/8″ drill bit
Female faucet connector
Also, a cold beer and lawn chair is nice so you can kick back and watch your garden grow.
Happy Gardening – The Wrinkled Dollar