Do It Yourself: Drip Irrigation Systems
Water is an essential part of life, so much so that a fully grown adult can only last 3-4 days without it. Water isn’t just a necessity for humans however, it’s also extremely vital to your plants. Without water, plants cannot absorb essential nutrients from the soil, so to your plants, going without water does not just mean lacking hydration it also means going without food.
With the hot, dry summer months upon us, now is the time to install a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation can be applied to both large and small scale growing operations. For this blog, we will specifically discuss setting up a drip irrigation system for a small raised bed garden, but the concepts and materials used will be similar for larger projects as well.
What You Need
While your exact application may require certain alterations, a general list of the tools and items you will need to set up your drip irrigation system is as follows:
- 8mm Punch
- ¾” Polyethylene Tubing (used as main supply line)
- StreamlineTM 636 Drip Tape
- Joiners, Elbows, Tees
- Twist-Lock Adapter
- Ratchet Clamps
- End Plug
- Hose Bib Assembly
- Twist-Lock Barb with Valve
- Green Back® In-Line Valve
- ¾” Schedule 30 PVC Pipe (optional)
You can find all of these irrigation supplies, plus many more, on our website www.growerssupply.com, or you can give us a call at 1.800.476.9715 and one of our knowledgeable National Account Managers can assist you with your drip irrigation needs.
The easiest way to supply water to your system is by connecting it to your garden hose spigot. Doing this means that you will need to adjust the water pressure of your water supply so that it has the acceptable water pressure. Typically, a garden hose spigot runs with 40-70psi and for your drip irrigation system, you will need to reduce that water pressure down to 10psi. Reducing water pressure can be done by constructing a Hose Bib Assembly and attaching it to your spigot. To build a Hose Bib Assembly, you will need a ¾” Brass Adaptor, a Y-Filter, two PVC Tee Fittings, two ¾” PVC Bushings, a 100psi Pressure Gauge, two ¾” Nipple Adapters, a Pressure Regulator, 15psi Pressure Gauge, ¾” Adapter and a ¾” Washer. These pieces should be connected using thread sealing tape, as this provides the strongest hold and will prevent leakage. For full instructions and details on how to construct a hose bib assembly, you can watch our Hose Bib Assembly instructional video.
Once you have your Hose Bib Assembly constructed and attached to your hose spigot, you are now ready to attach the supply line. For your supply line, we recommend using ¾” Polyethylene Tubing, as it is resilient and reliable. Attach the supply line to the ¾” Twist-Lock Adapter located at the end opposite of your spigot connection and secure the supply line in place using our Ratchet Clamps. This will prevent the supply line from disconnecting with the Hose Bib Assembly and flooding the area.
Your supply line is now ready to be aligned in the manner that best suits your raised bed gardens. In our example, we have elected to bury sections of the supply line in order to remain visually appealing and refrain from any unwanted foot obstruction. When electing to bury sections of your supply line, we recommend placing ¾”Schedule 30 PVC Pipe underground rather than the Polyethylene Tubing because the PVC Pipe lasts longer. This is done by cutting your Polyethylene Tubing at the point where it meets the ground, then connecting it to the underground PVC Pipe using an Elbow joint.
Setting Supply Line
Installing your main supply line is done by cutting the Polyethylene Tubing into properly sized sections. Cutting and piecing together is the best way to install your supply line because it allows for a smooth, reliable flow of water even when going around corners or avoiding objects, such as rocks. When connecting sections of supply line, you will need to use a Joiner, Elbow or Tee, and secure the tubing in place on both sides with Ratchet Clamps. For our example with the partially buried line, we used several elbows to go above and below ground.
When your supply line is in place, you will need to close it off. This is done by attaching a Green Back® In-Line Valve at the very last section of supply line. When closed off, the valve acts as a plug keeping the water that is running though the system contained. If you so desire, at the end of your growing season, you can open the valve and drain any remaining water entirely.
Installing Drip Tape
With your supply line installed, it is now time to install the drip tape. You will need to take your 8mm Punch and punch holes in the supply line as needed for your row spacing. When all holes are punched, install the Twist-Lock Barb with Valve. Once all holes have the Twist-Lock Barb, measure out the length of drip tape needed, cut and connect the drip tape strips to your barbs and secure using the Twist-Lock. The barb shut offs are excellent because they allow for you to cut the water supply to certain areas if needed. Finally you will need to cap off each end of drip tape with a Twist-Lock End Plug. The drip tape comes with emitters already spaced 8” apart.
Drip irrigation systems are a great way to cut down on labor time and minimize waste water. In less than a full days’ work, you can install a drip irrigation system that will provide your crops with the proper hydration they need to keep them healthy and looking their best.