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What Are the Best Tips for Making a DIY Irrigation System?

By B. Leslie Baird
Updated May 17, 2024
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A diy irrigation system can be as simple as a soaker hose, or as complex as an underground system set up on a timer. When making a do-it-yourself setup, the best tips typically revolve around the amount of area that requires irrigation, the soil type, and the average winter temperatures. Even complex watering systems can be inexpensive and relatively easy to install.

Underground watering systems are generally easier to install in areas that do not have heavy clay soils. With heavy clay, or soil that has large rock content, it may be hard to dig and place such irrigation, and an above-ground system may be more appropriate. In areas that experience harsh winters, a removable garden hose or trench system can reduce the possibility of damage from freezing.

The easiest diy irrigation system for small areas involves the use of soaker hoses. In reality, the hose does not even need to be a soaker-style model. Soaker hoses are perforated to allow water to slowly escape along the line. Regular garden hoses can be used in the same way by poking small holes in the hose along the necessary length. Also, the faucet should only be turned on partially, to prevent excess pressure, which will often create a fountain effect.

Another type of diy irrigation system is a more permanent installation of water lines above or below the ground. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is lightweight and easy to work with for this purpose. Pipe elbows can be used to turn the system around corners. PVC irrigation systems can be used above or below ground. Both kinds of systems should be drained before cold weather, however, to prevent freezing.

Above-ground systems require small holes to be drilled along the usable length of the PVC piping, and require a hose attachment on one end. Below-ground systems necessitate the installation of tees that rise slightly above ground level. Openings on the top of the tees need to be covered with a screening material. Sprinkler heads can also be fitted to a PVC diy irrigation system. Adding a timer control may be more complex, but these devices are readily available at most building supply stores.

One of the oldest styles of diy irrigation system involves nothing more than shallow trenches cut into the ground near the plants that require watering. The trenches are then flooded with water, which slowly soaks into the ground and reaches the plant roots. This type of system works well without wasting excess water as a spray system can.

A variation on the trench system can be created with empty plastic bottles, in one gallon or two liter sizes. Clean the bottles well and then punch small holes in circular rows around their diameters. Dig holes in the ground to accommodate the bottle size, deep enough so that 75% of the bottle is underground. The bottles can then be filled with a funnel and capped. The lids should include one or two holes to allow air in and make the water flow out slowly.

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