Drip irrigation systems are a great way to save you time and money while increasing the productivity of your vegetable garden. They’re also very easy to install and can usually be done in an afternoon. Here’s a guide on why and how to install one in your garden!
Why Drip Irrigation?
You will save a lot of money on water by using a drip irrigation system versus watering with a hose. Drip systems put the water exactly where you need it, rather than watering all the weeds between your plants. They also allow you to use all the water for plants, rather than wasting water by keeping it running while you move the hose all around the yard. Drip systems are easier and less time-intensive as well since you just have to turn on the water and let it run for an allotted amount of time.
You can buy kits for drip irrigation systems or use basic materials from the hardware store to customize a system perfectly for your garden. You can get great results with PVC pipe or with a drip line, depending on how much you want to spend and what material you prefer. A timer and filter are completely optional, but they can be very convenient if you want the most hands-off approach to watering.
Installing a Drip PVC System
● Wherever you use ball valves, glue the pipes. They will experience a lot of pressure and risk coming apart if you don’t glue them. Other joints past the ball valve don’t necessarily need to be glued.
● You need the system to be level. Use bricks or cinder blocks underneath pipes if your garden isn’t level.
At the front of the system, by the hose, you’ll probably want a ball valve (or valves) to control the flow of water. After the ball valves, install shorter pieces of pipe connected together with tees to make a long piece perpendicular to your garden rows. Then, insert pipes into the tees that will run along the rows.
Drill 1/16-inch holes into the pipes wherever you want the water to drip out. On the bottom or side is usually best, but it’s easiest to drill the holes on top (on a table is going to be easier than actually in the garden) and turn the pipe when you install it. If you end up not using all the tees for watering pipes, install plugs on the tees. You’ll also need plugs at the end of your drilled pipes.
Depending on what you’ll be planting, you may want to install ball valves between your tees and drilled watering pipes. This will allow you more control for plants that need more or less water than others.
Tubing Drip Line Systems
Installing a drip line is very similar to installing a PVC line. There are two types of drip line you can buy: line with pre-installed emitters, or line and separate emitters you can install where you want. Either option will work well, just consider how far apart you want your plants spaced and whether or not you prefer to install them yourself.
At the faucet, you’ll attach your tubing with any filters, timers, or pressure regulators you want to use. Lay the hose down along your garden rows with hold down stakes to keep it from moving around. Use elbows and tees to get to everywhere you need to in your garden. If you’re installing emitters, add them in where your plants will go once you’ve got the line down.
It really is that simple to get a drip irrigation system going in your garden! We’d love to hear from you if you’ve installed a drip irrigation system. Do you prefer PVC or tubing? Let us know in the comments!