I probably wouldn’t be able to keep a single plant alive if I didn’t have an irrigation system that automatically watered them. I’m awful at remembering to water plants, everything would just die. I set out a day on the weekend to buy supplies and install my system at home. Being pregnant, it took much longer than it has in the past but I was still able to get it done in a day…with a bunch of breaks and a nice little mid-day nap.
When you head to your local home improvement store to pick up your supplies don’t bother looking through your garden section. I spent a good amount of time wandering until an employee directed me in the right direction. The things things you need will be in the plumbing section.
What you need
- Drip irrigation timer of your choice that attaches to your outdoor water faucet
- 5/8-in Polyethylene Drip Irrigation Male Adapter
- 5/8-in Polypropylene Drip Irrigation tubing- not the one with pre-drilled holes
- 5/8-in Polypropylene Drip Irrigation End Cap
- 5/8-in elbows- get as many as your set up needs and then get a few extra
- 5/8-in tubing stakes
- 1/4-in Polypropylene Drip Irrigation tubing
- Scissors that can cut the tubing
- 1/4-in Drip irrigation connectors- you should have a good idea of the design of your system before you know which ones to buy
- Drippers or soaker hose-which ones you get depend on the set up of your garden
- Tube Hole punch
- Raindrip Drip Irrigation Repair Kit
- This is a great option if you really have no idea what you need. It comes with all sorts or drippers and connectors plus it comes with a hole punch.
- The kind of dripper you need depends on what plants are in your garden. I chose generic adjustable-spray drip irrigation multi-stream dripper with stakes because they were cheapest. They are basically mini sprinklers on stakes. Any extra drippers I needed came in the repair kit above.
- Now that my system is set up I wish I had bought at least one short soaker hose. I’m not a huge fan of the soaker hose because you end up watering places that don’t need watering but I have a row of onions that aren’t liking being sprayed with water.
- I recommend buying supplies in-store. Most of the things online come in bulk and, for the most part, you only need one of each item.
From the Faucet to the Garden Bed:
- Start with the timer. Attach it to the outdoor faucet and make sure it clears the ground. My house is an old house so I had some issues with this. If you need to, dig a hole so that you have enough room for the male adapter, and the elbow, to be attached. You may not need the elbow if your faucet is high off the ground but otherwise your hose will kink and weaken if you don’t use it.
- Attach the male adapter to one end of the 5/8-in tubing. It will take some muscle. I found that a back and forth motion is more efficient than a twisting motion. Then, attach the adapter to the timer and measure how much tubing you need for it to reach the ground. If you want to bury the tubing for aesthetic reasons make sure to give yourself some extra tubing.
- Now that you know how much tubing you need for it to reach the ground, go ahead and cut the tube at the desired location. Unscrew the male adapter from the timer and then attach the 5/8-in elbow. Notice, I cut my tubing very short because my timer is very close to the ground.
- Attach 5/8-in tubing to the other side of the elbow and re-screw the male adapter to the timer. Now, run the tubing all the way to your garden bed.
- You have a few options here:
- You can simply have you tubing hang off the side of the garden bed
- You can attach elbows to the tubing so instead of the tubing hanging off the side of the garden bed, it sits a little bit neater. This is the method I chose.
- You can drill a hole into the side of your garden bed and fish the tubing through that.
From One End of the Garden Bed to the Other:
The irrigation system in your actual garden bed is going to vary from garden to garden. It is entirely based on preference, the shape of you garden bed, and the orientation of your plants.
- First orient how you want your 5/8-in tubing to sit in your garden bed. I chose to have mine run down the middle and I used elbows to make clean 90 degree turns when I needed it. You don’t have to use elbows but you will find that it is hard to make a stiff 5/8-in tube do what you want.
- Stake down your tubing with the 5/8-in tubing stakes. You may need to use rocks or a few heavy objects for a few days while the tube straightens out.
- Once you have everything staked, cut the end of the tubing where you want your irrigation to end. Attach the 5/8-in end cap.
- Take your hole punch and make a hole in the 5/8-in tubing where you want to insert a dripper. TIP: Don’t make my mistake; don’t try to hole punch the tube after it has been sitting in the hot sun for a few hours. The heat will make the tube too malleable and it will be really difficult to make a hole. Instead, do this when the tube is cool and stiff. It also helps to place a rock under the tube for a hard surface to work on.
- Attach a 1/4-in coupling into your new hole and attach the 1/4-in tube to the coupling. Note: In the photo I use barbed Tees.
- Attach your chosen dripper to the 1/4-in tubing and place it in your desired location.
- Repeat steps 4-6 throughout your garden bed.
- Once everything is attached, set your timer system to water the plants manually and then adjust the drippers as needed. And your done!
Let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, or it you need me to further explain a particular step! My system is and always will be a work in progress. Since writing this post I have already replaced a few of the drippers, added a couple extra lines, and this weekend I’ll be buying a few soaker hoses for the sunflower, leek, and carrot seeds that I recently planted.