DIY Drip Irrigation System – Make Life Easy in the Garden

With a drip irrigation system, you can spend all that time you used to take watering your garden on some other project. Or, if you can get away with it, just grab a lawn chair, a glass of lemonade and a good book and watch the water flow. If anyone calls and wants you to do something you really don’t want to do, you can honestly tell them, “I’m busy watering the garden!”

Just so you know: This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission, but it does not affect the price you pay!

a pile of white pvc tees and caps, and a copper faucet laying on plans for a drip irrigation system

Supplies

  • Note: All pipe and connectors are sized to fit your pipe. ½” pipe calls for ½” connectors; ¾” pipe calls for ¾” connectors, etc.)
  • ¾” PVC Pipe – long enough to accommodate the length (or width) of your garden
  • 8 T’s (You can use more or less, depending on the number of hoses you will use)
  • 8 Spigots
  • 1 End Cap
  • 8 threaded Hose bibbs
  • 8 threaded bushings
  • 1 Elbow
  • PVC Pipe Cleaner
  • PVC Pipe Glue
  • Pipe Tape
  • Sandpaper

Directions:

Before you do any project, you need to measure for fit and draw a plan. With a drip irrigation system, you need to first determine the spacing for your rows. It works so much better if your rows are exactly the same space apart, but mine never end up that way.

Consequently, we just measured for 2’ rows, and I adapted my soaker hoses to fit our drip irrigation system.  If you are a perfectionist, go ahead and measure and cut exactly. If not, at least try to get as close as you can.

Cut your pipe into lengths according to your spacing. My rows are approximately two feet apart, so our pipe was cut to 30” lengths. Sand the ends to remove any slag and rough edges.

a white pvc tee fitted with a copper faucet hooked to an old piece of pvc laying on a concrete floor

Test Before you Glue

It is best to put together your drip irrigation system before you glue it. Once you have it together, lay it out beside your garden to make sure it is long enough, and the spigots are placed accordingly. You want your spigots facing to the side for easy hose connection. Having them point down to the ground or up to the sky may cause a kink, which will affect the irrigation process.

Once you are satisfied with your layout, it is time to begin the gluing. Be sure to use the pipe cleaner on the outside edge of the pipe, down about three inches, to make sure the glue will adhere properly.

a white pvc tee and a copper faucet with a black handle

Start with the end cap. Clean the pipe well, then add glue to the outside edge of the pipe and the inside of the cap. Put the cap in place, then hold for about thirty seconds to a minute, to make sure the glue holds.

Clean the other end of the pipe, and glue the first tee into place. Continue this process until all the tees are securely glued. For this process, we wanted to make sure that the spigots were all lined up correctly. We kept all the spigots screwed into the hose bibs, and inserted them into the tees (but did NOT glue them in). We glued the first tee in place, and then laid it down on the floor of the shop.

a pvc pipe with tees and a faucet laying on a concreate floor

As we glued the next pieces, we glued, put it together, then quickly laid it on the floor and twisted until each spigot was straight. You really need to work fast with this part of the project, as PVC glue sets quickly. At the end, we glued an elbow into the final piece, making sure it was straight up in the air (this is where you will eventually attach your hose from your main water supply.)

Remove the spigots and bushings from the tees. Using the same process of cleaning and gluing, glue the bushings into each tee. Using your pipe tape, make several winds around the threads of the spigots, then insert back into the bushings, making sure that they are all even and pointing in the same direction. Glue the final bushing into the elbow at the end. Give it at least ten minutes before relocating your drip irrigation system to your garden.

a pvc irrigation pipe with a copper faucet with a black handle laying in a garden

Lay the drip irrigation system in place, then connect your soaker hoses. As you connect a hose, unroll it and lay it about one inch away from the roots of the plants. If your hose is too long, simply curve it around and lay it down along the other side of the plants. Continue this until all the hoses are in place. Slightly open all the spigots.

a soaker hose connected to a drip irrigation system

A Note About Soaker Hoses

First, be sure you get a soaker hose that will fit the hose bibbs on your drip irrigation system.  Hoses and bibbs come in 1/2″ and 3/4″. As far as length goes, the common lengths are 25′, 50′, and 100′.  If one of these lengths fit your garden, then you can purchase as many as you have hose bibbs for.  If you need a custom size, you can purchase soaker tubing, and cut it to length.  Keep in mind, to do it this way you will also need the fittings.

a white hose bib at the end of a drip irrigation system

Connect a regular garden hose to the end bibb of your drip irrigation system and to the main faucet on your drip irrigation system. Turn on the water. Adjust the spigots on your about halfway. This can be adjusted according to how much water you want or need on your plants.

a line of soaker hoses wrapped around tomato plants in a garden

Your drip irrigation system is now finished, and you can start watering your garden. With this system you will be assured of getting water directly to the roots of the plants, without splattering mud and water all over the leaves and fruit.

And the best part is, you can sit back and enjoy a glass of Lemonade while you are ‘busy’ watering the garden – or go ahead and work on all those other projects that are stacking up!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.