DIY Sprinkler System on the Cheap!
I love gardening. Planting things and watching them grow is amazing! But I only like gardening so far as buying the plants and getting them in the ground. After that I want to not be bothered with my gardens any more except maybe to stop and smell the roses.
So many years I’ve planted a gorgeous garden in spring only to have it wither away come summer. Because when it gets that crazy, nasty hot I have no desire to stand out there with that hose for ages watering all of those dang plants. Silly, isn’t it? But I know I’m not the only one.
But it never puts me off of actually buying the plants. It happened again this very fall. Taken in with the mums and cabbages that scream cozy fall garden I threw caution to the wind and snapped up a few for my little bed in front of my front door.
My father, knowing my track record, suggested that we install a cheapie sprinkler system to keep them (and the 20 some odd shrubs my brother in law was nice enough to plant for me) alive. Well, they may not all live, because things happen, but it won’t be from lack of water!
For this project you will need (we prefer DIG brand at Home Depot):
- automatic 1 outlet hose timer
- 2 way metal hose connector (so you can still have a working hose on the faucet)
- 1/2 inch irrigation tubing
- 1/4 inch irrigation tubing (to make runners off of the main line)
- 1/4 inch hole punch
- 2 GPH pressure compensating drippers
- 1/2 inch poly tubing x 3/4 inch pipe thread swivel adapter
- 1/2 inch compression end cap
- 1/4 inch barb connectors
- 1/2 inch compression elbow (for every turn in the tubing)
- 1/2 inch compression tee (for every time you need to split the tubing in two directions)
You’ll need to plant your plants before starting your DIY sprinkler system so you know where to place the drippers. Mulch makes the whole thing a lot simpler because you can easily hide the sprinkler system but have it be easily accessible in case you add more plants and need more drippers a bit later.
Take your swivel head adapter and shove it onto the end of your 1/2 inch tubing. The swivel head adapter is the part that screws onto the hose bib as seen above. In order to also have a regular hose on the line, you’ll need to use the 2 way splitter (if you don’t need a hose line then you can skip it).
You’ll need to attach your adapter to the timer and then directly onto the hose bib or the splitter. This isn’t shown here because we misplaced the splitter and the timer. Oops!
Run your 1/2 inch tubing down the length of your garden or bed. Here you can see the tubing above the ground in the flower bed where it can be covered by mulch, but it’s being buried along the concrete to get to the small bed off by itself.
When laying out your 1/2 inch tubing you’ll start using your tee and elbow brackets to make the proper shape. Here there was an elbow bracket to move from the center of the main flower bed toward the grass and then another elbow was placed at the corner of the concrete to get it going toward the smaller, lone flower bed.
Lay out the line as long as you need it and then place your compression end cap onto the end.
Use your 1/4 inch hole punch (pictured above) to make holes in the 1/2 inch tube.
You’ll press it and turn it until you hear a pop. If you push it through and remove it and there is no hole, you need to put it back in and push and turn until it punctures the plastic. The hole on the left is complete and the tool is still in the hole on the right.
You can add your drippers in two ways. First you can attach them directly to the 1/2 inch tubing (we did this with every shrub placed in the main flowerbed, running the tube close to the plants) or you can make runners that will go out to individual plants.
Using a sharp knife, cut your 1/4 inch tubing to length. To get the correct length, run it from the larger tube to the plant, giving an inch or two of extra.
These are your barbs (at the top) and drippers.
For the barbs, shove one end into your 1/4 inch smaller tube. It’s kind of hard so prepare to sit there and work it or get somebody with really strong hands to help you out. On the other end of the line shove a dripper into place (the green end goes into the tube).
Shove the barb into the holes you made with your punch in the 1/2 inch tube.
And place your dripping end by the base of the plant. Continue for all of your plants.
Be sure to test that every dripper works by manually turning on the water. Trouble shoot any that aren’t working (first I’d check that your hole you made with the punch in the 1/2 tube is, in fact, a hole).
Cover your system up with mulch and get your timer set as needed.
And leave it!
Check it out! My plants are surviving well enough to actually bloom. Yay!
If you purchase all of the materials, the 100 feet of tubing may seem like an awful lot. BUT think of how easily you can run drippers to just about every plant you have. You could have absolutely no more hand watering except in your potted plants! Pretty nifty, pretty cheap and pretty awesome. Remember the days when only the Richey Riches had sprinkler systems? Not any more!