How to make a homemade drip system

Written by ryan hotchkiss
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How to make a homemade drip system
Drip systems are a type of hydroponics. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

A homemade drip irrigation system is a means for an amateur horticulturist or homeowner to reap the benefits of drip irrigating without accruing the cost of a commercial system. The benefits include water conservation through the elimination of evaporation and deep percolation, simplified fertiliser delivery and a constant water supply to the plants without requiring constant attention. Do it yourself drip irrigation methods vary from individual plastic container drip mechanisms to gravity fed inline drippers connected with hose to a water source. The more complex the drip system, the more time required, but even large homemade systems are simple to construct.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Bucket stand
  • 5-gal. bucket
  • Drill
  • Bit set
  • 1/4-inch flex pipe or rubber surgical hose
  • Filter with 1/4-inch barbed nipple
  • Silicone
  • Hammer
  • 2-foot lath, steel stakes or sod staples
  • Delivery mechanisms (inline drippers or plastic containers with caps)
  • Terminal dripper
  • Carpenter's knife
  • Zip ties

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  1. 1

    Drill a 1/4-inch hole in the side of the 5-gal. bucket, 1 inch above the bottom. Slide the pipe or hose 3 inches into the hole in the bucket. Inside the bucket, slide the barbed nipple of the filter into the end of the hose. Silicone around the threshold of the bucket and the hose, both inside and outside the bucket. Place the bucket on the stand. The higher the stand in relation to the delivery mechanisms, the more water pressure the line carries. Allow the silicone to cure while constructing the remainder of your system.

  2. 2

    Hammer laths, stakes or staples into the ground or pot next to each plant you want to drip irrigate. Lawn staples are sufficiently sturdy -- and less visually intrusive than stakes and laths -- if you are constructing an inline dripper system. For plastic bottles or containers, laths or stakes are required to support the weight of the delivery mechanisms.

  3. 3

    Run hose from the bucket to the closest stake, then the next closest, then the next. Continue laying it out until there is hose next to each stake or staple. If you are using inline drippers, cut the hose in half next to each stake with a carpenter's knife and affix a dripper. To do so, slide the end of one of the hoses over one of the dripper's nipples and the hose other over the other nipple. Affix a terminal dripper at the very end of the hose using the same method.

  4. 4

    Drill a 1/4-inch hole, 2 inches from the bottom, on each side of each plastic bottles or containers, if this is the system you are constructing. Drill two 1/16 inch holes in the cap of each bottle or container. Slide the end of the hose into the hole on one side of the container, across the circumference and out the other hole. String all your containers onto the hose. Slide them down the line and into place next to the appropriate stake or lath. The first container is associated with the first lath or stake, the second you string belongs next to the second closest stake to the bucket stand and so on. Tie a knot at the end of the surgical hose once all your containers are strung.

  5. 5

    Plastic tie the containers to the laths or stakes or the drippers to the staples. Rotate the containers on the hose cap down. Make sure the cap or dripper is within 4 inches of the stalk of the plant. You can remove stakes, laths and stapes, relocate them and re-hammer them into position as required. At each stake, pull the hose through the container 3 inches in one direction or the other. Cut a 1/16 inch slice through the hose laterally. Slide the hose back into its original position, the slice inside the container.

  6. 6

    Add water to the bucket and check your delivery mechanisms. Rotate the washer on the drippers to deliver more or less water. For plastic containers, if more water is required, drill more holes in the caps.

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