Set Up a DIY Automatic Irrigation System in Your Garden

Set Up a DIY Automatic Irrigation System in Your Garden

Keeping your garden watered might not feel like a chore at first, but dragging hoses around, getting them stuck on trellises or railings, and spending the time on each bed to keep everything well-watered can add up being a hassle. Automatic watering is a solution to the early morning and late night escapades with the hoses and will keep your garden looking great all season. While it might seem intimidating, the parts for an automatic irrigation system are inexpensive, and the system is manageable with a few tools and some good planning.

Supplies for this project include:

You will also need some tools, including a hand saw or electric saw to cut the PVC pipe, a tape measure, and a drill set.

Measure, sketch, and make a parts list

Before you buy your parts, you’ll need to plan out the configuration of your system. Start at the water source and measure to the first bed you want to irrigate. Then, measure the distance to each additional bed. If you want to branch out, using a “t” connector or an “x” connector will be necessary at each junction, with the “t” being useful for a one-way branch and the “x” being useful for a two-way branch. It might help to sketch the layout of your garden beds and water source and then label your distances and junctions as you go to keep track of the numbers.

If you’re irrigating raised beds, you will also need right-angle fittings at each bed to carry the water up to your soaker hose. Each bed should also get a valve that can be turned off in case certain areas need less water than others. Once you have a count of how many of each part you’ll need, you can make your parts list. Add up the total of all the distances between beds and between the first bed and the water source to estimate how much PVC pipe you’ll need. Remember that you’ll also need enough pipe to carry the water to the top edge of your raised beds if that’s what you’re using, so measure the height of your raised beds and multiply that height by the number of beds you have to get the total length of PVC pipe you’ll need.

Lay out your pipe and make your connections

You can choose to bury your PVC pipe about ¾” under the soil surface or to run it along the edges of your raised beds—just make sure it’s protected from getting snagged or cracked by foot or vehicle traffic. If you choose to bury your PVC, make sure to call 811 before you dig to avoid utility lines. Once you have your path laid out, use your tape measure and saw to cut the PVC to the right lengths and attach the fittings using the PVC glue and activator. Make sure to do this part in a well-ventilated area. Remember to add a valve for each bed so you can control which beds get watered.

Attach your pipes to the water source

Next, attach the timer to the water source, and attach the PVC pipe to the timer. You might need a short extension hose to make this work. You can use male or female hose connectors at the joints to connect hoses to the PVC. Once all of your pipe is connected, set the timer on your watering control to check for any leaks or problems with your pipe system. Make sure your pipes are all well-supported to avoid wear and tear over time and prevent cracking as water pressure builds inside the pipes. If you need to, you can use a block of two by four and a pipe clip to give the pipe a sturdy support. Use your drill set to screw the pipe clip into the block, capturing the pipe, and then screw the block into the side of your raised bed for support.

Bury your pipes and attach your hoses

Once your pipe has been leak-proofed and stress-tested, you can bury your pipe under ¾” of soil. Then, attach your soaker hoses to the PVC pipes using your female hose connectors. Now, all you need to do is set your valves for the correct plants to get watered and set your timer.

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