How to Make a DIY Garden Irrigation System

A Simple Watering System For Your Garden

Drip Irrigation in Garden

firemanYU/Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 3 - 4 hrs
  • Total Time: 3 - 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $100.00

Keeping plants well-watered and thriving can be a time consuming chore, but a do-it-yourself watering system is economical, saves on your water bill, and leaves more time for you to enjoy the hard work you've put into the garden.

For this project, we will put together and install an irrigation system for an eight foot by ten foot garden using soaker hoses, a manifold, and a timer.

When to Install a Garden Irrigation System

You can install soaker hoses either before or after planting. Depending on your soil type, the hoses will deliver water to an area between one and three feet with clay soil holding the greatest amount of moisture and sandy soil the least amount. In either case, take time to create and work from a garden layout. Remember to mark seeded rows and beds so you know where to place the hoses.

Before Getting Started

Draw a layout of your garden and determine what type of soil you have. Our project is based on average loamy garden soil which means soaker hoses should be placed about two feet apart to cover the eight by ten foot area efficiently. Since hose is flexible, you will be able to curve and adjust it to reach every plant. Another advantage is hoses can easily be moved when new plants are added or the garden layout changes.

When the garden to be watered is any distance from the main water spigot you will need garden hose. Measure this distance to make sure you have enough feet of regular garden hose to reach the planted area.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Garden hose

Materials

  • 2 25-foot Soaker hoses
  • 1 Hose manifold-two output
  • 1 Hose timer
  • Hose minders (optional)
  • Hose washers

Instructions

  1. Check All Hoses for Washers and Restrictors

    Hose washers are small donut-shaped rubber or plastic rings that fit inside the female side of a hose connection. These rings prevent leaks by providing a watertight seal and all female hose connections should have one.

    Soaker hose restrictors are small blue disks with a pinhole in the middle. These are already installed in purchased soaker hoses located at the end of the hose to be connected to the manifold. They regulate flow and help to prevent pressure leaks from developing in the hose line.

    It's a good idea to check that washers and restrictors are in place every time you hook up a disconnected hose.

    Tip

    Washers and restrictors are small parts easily lost when hoses are disconnected. While replacement restrictors are hard to find, you can use a washer in its place. Hose washers are available several in a package and good item to keep on hand.

  2. Connect the Garden Hose

    Beginning with garden hose, go ahead and connect it to the main water spigot. You can add the timer once the system is in place.

  3. Add the Manifold

    Connect the garden hose to the main manifold input. Attach each of the two soaker hoses to each of the two manifold outputs. The manifold connections will also have separate on/off valves allowing you to operate each hose individually or both simultaneously.

  4. Lay Out the Soaker Hoses

    Follow the pattern you've created for your watering layout plan and install the soaker hoses throughout the garden area. Simple bamboo or wooden stakes can be used to direct the hoses and hold them in place. and to manipulate difficult spots. You can also purchase plain or decorative hose minders.

  5. Test the System

    Turn the manifold control valves to their off positions. Turn on the garden hose at the spigot. Return to the manifold and one at a time open each valve and walk the connected soaker hose line to check that the hose is working properly and efficiently. Make any adjustments needed and retest. When the system is delivering water satisfactorily turn off the manifold valves and the main water spigot.

  6. Install the Timer

    Different types of hose timers are available, from those that work like a simple alarm clock to sophisticated digital units. Read manufacturer's instructions to learn how to operate the timer you've chosen. Set the timer. Disconnect the garden hose from the main water spigot, install the timer and reconnect the hose to the timer unit.

    Tip

    Mornings are the best time to water plants. This allow any excess surface water on the stems and leaves to dry out before night time temperatures drop.

    Benefits of a Drip Irrigation System

    Drip irrigation delivers water to the roots and this fuels photosynthesis and nutrient uptake. Watering at ground level also helps to prevent the spread of soil-borne diseases that can be exacerbated by overhead watering. Water is used more economically than with an overhead sprinkler system which works better for covering large areas such as lawns. You can water any time of day. Evaporation and waste is reduced because the water is delivered directly into the soil.

    Irrigation System Maintenance

    An irrigation system using soaker hoses is easy to maintain. Once in place, the system can remain throughout the seasons, however, each hose should be disconnected from its water source and completely drained before the ground freezes. If you are irrigating a vegetable garden where the layout will change from year to year, simply remove and drain the hoses, carefully coil and secure them and store them, with the manifold and timer, in a garden shed or garage.

    When cared for properly, hoses can last several years or even longer. Walk your system from time to time throughout the growing season to check for leaks or any displacement.