diy garden irrigation system

Ep. 15 – Easy Step-by-Step DIY Garden Irrigation System

DIY garden irrigation is made simple with this complete guide with step-by step instructions, supply lists, and examples!

Watering the garden is probably one of the most important needs of our garden plants and also one of the garden tasks that can quickly get really old! But the idea of setting up a drip irrigation system can be confusing at best, down-right impossible feeling at worst! But not for much longer! 

In today’s episode, we are going to walk through my garden and talk about how I’ve set-up my diy drip irrigation system, as well as give you the tools you’ll need to create your own irrigation system!

Hey guys! Welcome to my garden and the podcast! This episode is a little different because I am coming to you straight from my backyard! I’ll be showing you in real time what my drip irrigation system looks like! So, if you’re listening to the podcast, be sure to check out the video version on youtube! The goal of the today’s podcast episode is to empower homes gardeners to set-up their system and check watering off their garden to do list! 

So just so we are all on the same page, let’s get a quick definition of drip irrigation! So drip irrigation is a way of watering your garden where the water is slowly delivered to the soil level of your garden over time allowing the plant roots to use much more of the water delivered. 

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Benefits of a Drip Irrigation

Having a DIY irrigation system offers numerous advantages for your vegetable garden, such as:

  • Enhanced watering efficiency
  • Decreased water bills
  • Reduced time spent on watering
  • Minimized water splash on leaves from the soil surface, lowering the spread of soil-borne pathogens to plants
  • Diminished runoff and evaporation

As you can see, there are a ton of benefits for adding a drip system to your garden! 

Options for DIY Garden Irrigation

When it comes to creating a simple irrigation system for your vegetable garden, you have quite a few options to choose from. Now as you can see, I garden mostly in Raised Garden beds and container gardens, so all of my experience is going to come from this type of gardening! As I talk about each option for your drip system, I’ll show you how they are being used in my garden!

Soaker hoses/Drip tape

You can easily create a simple irrigation system using soaker hoses. A soaker hose system simply requires you to connect your main garden hose to soaker hoses or drip tape that is snaked through your garden bed. This system requires little work and can be used for a small garden or in-ground flower beds(perhaps a single raised bed). Because the drip lines are connected directly to the garden hose however, you could find uneven watering the closer to the end of the drip tape you get. 

Ollas

Another simple method of passively watering your garden is to use ollas!  Ollas are unglazed terra cotta pots that you can bury in your garden. As you fill them up with water from the top they slowly seep out water into the soil. If you were to dig up around the ollas at the end of the season you will notice that the roots of your plants will grow towards the ollas! I am going to be placing ollas in two beds in my garden! My herb bed as well as my medicinal flower garden here! These two should have pretty minimal watering requirements, so I feel they are a pretty great way to try out this ancient technique. 

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this method for a large garden (especially if you want to have drip irrigation as a time saving method), because filling the ollas over many garden beds can be time consuming!

Drip Irrigation Kits

Another option you can use for your drip irrigation system is a drip irrigation kit (or diy your kit). This is what I used last year! And it worked fine for most of my plants! It did require a bit of trial and error. There isn’t a lot of information out there about how to actually build the systems, so you just sort of start connecting pieces and see what worked! 

Some of the issues I ran into with this method was uneven watering the further from the emitter tubing I got. Which meant some of my plants didn’t get the deep watering required to thrive! Also, the further I got from the water source at my faucet, the lower the water pressure was.

Garden in Minutes Garden Grids

The last method of setting up your drip irrigation system is by far the easiest, and it’s what I have transitioned all of my beds to, and that is the Garden in Minutes Garden Grids! When I renovated my garden this year and moved the beds to the Southeast corner of my yard, I knew I was going to need drip irrigation that gave my much more even watering, and since my garden was going to be further from the watering source, I’d need to make sure that the water delivery was consistent!
The Garden in Minutes Garden Grids checked off all those boxes and some that I didn’t even know I needed checking, like, following a square foot gardening method of fabrication to make watering individual plants more effectively (and keeping my chaos gardening tendencies in check).

Step-by-step guide

Alright, so at this point, we know why we want to have a drip irrigation system and we’ve decided on the type of irrigation system we want. Let’s talk about how to practically put this together! Again, I’ll note that you may want to check out the episode on YouTube, because it is going to allow you to visually see what I am talking about! 

Map out your space

So the first thing you’ll want to do when you are creating your irrigation system is to map out your space! I like to do this on graph paper, and I’m just going to draw out exactly where everything is in my garden! As well as the water source!

You want to make sure that you also have measurements of distances between beds, and from your water source! This distance can change how you distribute water to your garden as well as how many different zones you want to set-up.

A zone is just the area that a particular system will be distributing water to. In my garden, I have 3 different zones! One goes to my raised beds. One goes to my containers and main greenstalks. and One goes to my berry patch green stalks and containers! 

One thing you want to keep in mind is the more beds that you are distributing to, the less water that will go to each bed/container (which means you’d have to water for longer. I like to try to evenly distribute the square feet that each zone is covering. And that’s why I have so many zones!

Once your garden is mapped out, you can draw out (probably in pencil what drip irrigation will look like in your garden. This is quite simple with the Garden in Minutes Garden grids because they have a ton of configurations based on the size of your garden beds. So For my garden, I will simply list out the sizes of each bed. So all I really need to draw out are my delivery tubings and connecting fittings. 

Purchase supplies for your diy garden irrigation

Now it’s time to create your drip irrigation supply list and head to the hardware store or online! Some supplies that you will need are:

  • Faucet splitter
  • Pressure regulator – which will decrease the pressure from 50 psi to about 25 psi
  • Hose convertors – this allows you to connect your faucet tining to the rip irrigation tubing. 
  • Automatic garden irrigation system timer – This is optional but truly removes watering from your list.
  • Backflow preventor
  • Water filter
  • Drip Irrigation small hole punch

Additional supplies depending on your set-up. And You’ll need these for both 1/2 inch tubing and 1/4th inch tubing. 

  • Fittings and connectors (elbows, T shaped, and straight)
  • Goof plugs
  • Tubing closures
  • Garden staples
  • Emitter tubing
  • Mainline tubing

To determine exactly what you’ll need, you want to be sure you’ve walked through mapping out your garden specifically. And if that is still confusing, at the end of the episode, I’ll be sharing a limited time service, I’ll be offering to help you build your specific irrigation system! 

I’ve also created a Drip irrigation printable guide that you can take with you to the supply store. It’s a pdf form and also includes links to many of my online recommendations! You can get a copy of that in the show notes below! 

Also read: Complete Drip Irrigation Supplies and Parts Guide

Set-up water supply

With our supplies ready, it’s time to set-up our systems! Now, I have a four way splitter on my garden faucet. This allows me to run water to each of my 3 zones as well as have a regular hose available for spot watering and filling my ollas. 

To set-up your water supply, you’ll connect your faucet splitter to the water source and then add on a backflow preventor. This is important because it helps to keep the water in your irrigation system from flowing back into your main household water supply. Now, my timer has a backflow preventer incorporated so I don’t have that on my system. And I really like these Bhyve timers which are bluetooth and wifi enabled so I can water from anywhere! 

Then you can add additional filter. Again, my timer includes that as well, so I don’t add an additional one. From there, you’ll add on a pressure regulator which will decrease the pressure from 50 psi to about 25 psi as well as the line converter which connects to the 1/2″ distribution tubing. 

Set up water emitters

The next thing I do is set-up my garden beds. With the Garden in Minutes Garden grids, this was as simple as connecting a few main sections and laying the grid in my bed! 

I’ll admit, when I ordered, I ordered slightly on the larger side. These grids are created right on the foot measurement, and many garden beds have odd measurements. 

This system does create their own garden beds as well, which can help decrease the overhang you can experience when using with other companies raised beds! I’ll also note that if you are using these with a raised garden bed that has rounded corners, you do have the option to order cornerless grids! 

You can check out these grids and get a 7% off discount by clicking the link in the show notes and using the code Gardenthings at checkout!

Connect the two

Now that the water source and the beds are set-up, we will run our line to our garden beds. I initially ran my distribution line out as I needed to run it, and added the 1/2 inch closure at the end. 

Now, I use a combination of T and L fittings to connect my garden beds to my distribution tubing. 

Set-up timers and test

At this point I like to test my set-up to make sure that everything runs adequately and get an idea for how long the system needs to run for even watering. For my beds currently, I run this zone every other day for about 10 minutes.

After testing, you can set-up your timer and truly enjoy hands free watering!

Enjoy less time hand watering

Now I do want to note a few tips for making sure your system works for you all season long! and the first is to monitor your timing as the season progresses and your plants mature! In the heat of the summer additional watering may be necessary! 

I will typically water daily in the summer to maintain proper moisture! 

Additionally, watering early in the morning or later in the evening can ensure the water gets to the root zone. Afternoon watering is not ideal.

Lastly,  be sure to check your system regularly for any leaks or issues. Fixing these early can save you time and water in the long run! 

With a properly set-up drip irrigation system, you can enjoy less time hand watering and more time tending to your plants and enjoying your garden. And with the ability to easily expand and customize your system, it’s a great investment! 

I know this episode was a ton of information, and I hope it has been helpful guiding you through creating your own drip system. But inevitably, listening or watching isn’t always enough! So I want to remind you of the FREE irrigation guide I created which is linked in the show notes! 

Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, I will be offering a service this season for those who’d like more personal guidance on setting up your system! 

With this consultation, we will do a virtual walk through of your garden, talk through watering requirements of your plants and I will do the planning for you! Listing exactly what you’ll need, where to purchase, as well as do a follow-up meeting for any additional questions! 

If this service is something you’d be interested in, you can learn more and fill out the form in our show notes, and I’ll get you scheduled! 

Alright, ya’ll that is it for today’s episode! This has been a lot of fun! And let me know in the comments if you like this format, I’d love to plan more episodes where we are in the garden doing the garden things in real time!

If you dug this episode I would be honored if you would rate this podcast and spread the word to your friends who are also passionate about gardening.

Your five-star support fuels the growth of “Garden Things with Friends,” and together, we’ll cultivate a network of thriving gardens and plant-loving friends.

Happy Gardening and Remember It’s never the wrong time to Grow where you are!

diy garden irrigation system

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