DIY: Gravity Micro Drip Irrigation

Written by jason thompson
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A gravity drip irrigation system, also called a gravity micro irrigation system, is a high-efficiency, low-pressure irrigation set-up that uses gravity to move water through the irrigation lines. No pumps are needed. These systems make better use of water resources, require no fuel or electricity, and require little long-term maintenance. You can assemble a gravity drip irrigation system at home, with relatively little effort.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Drip irrigation line
  • 5-gallon bucket with lid
  • Drill
  • 2 cement blocks
  • Caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Filter washer sized to fit the drip line
  • Terminal dripper sized to fit the drip line

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  1. 1

    Measure the length of one of the rows of your garden. Purchase a drip irrigation line of the same length, with drippers spaced 12 inches apart from each other.

  2. 2

    Drill a hole in the wall of the 5-gallon bucket, near the bottom. Make the hole the same diameter as the drip line.

  3. 3

    Drill another hole in the lid of the bucket, approximately ¼ inch wide. If you do not make this air hole in the lid, the drip irrigation system will not work.

  4. 4

    Set the bucket up on top of the cement blocks at the end of the garden row. This will ensure that the level of water in the bucket is always higher than the drippers, even when the water level is low.

  5. 5

    Stick one end of the drip line into the hole near the bottom of the bucket. Seal the joint with caulk using the caulking gun. Fit the filter washer onto the end of the tube inside the bucket.

  6. 6

    Run the drip line down the length of the row, with the drippers next to each plant. Insert the terminal dripper into the end of the drip line.

  7. 7

    Make identical setups for each of the rows in your garden.

Tips and warnings

  • You can combine the gravity drip irrigation system with a rainwater collection barrel to use rainwater to irrigate your garden and reduce your dependence on groundwater supplies.
  • If you cannot find a filter that fits your drip line, you can make one out of aquarium filter floss and a plastic cup, notes James Koga at Cal Poly Pomona. If you cannot find a terminal dripper for your drip line, simply clamp it shut.
  • Tie your drip line to stakes driven into the ground. This will keep it elevated enough to let you keep an eye on the drip rate.

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