Ideas for a Homemade Drip System

Written by tony oldhand
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Ideas for a Homemade Drip System
A drip irrigation system is a time saver for a garden. (Dougal Waters/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

A drip irrigation system saves time and labour in a garden. Using a method of perforated hoses or pipes, you do not have to manually water your garden. Many drip-system designs exist, from simple to complex. By understanding how a drip system works, you will be able to design and build your own.

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Emitter Placement

Colorado State University recommends placing the emitters next to the roots of plants. An emitter can be made out of a small pipe with drilled holes. You can make your own by drilling 1/8-inch holes in either 1/2- or 3/8-inch PVC pipe. Commercially prepared emitters are also available. If you want a flexible system, perforated soaking hoses is an option. You can place the water lines down first, and then drill the holes near the plants.


The controller can be low-tech or high-tech. You can be your own low-tech controller by manually turning the drip system on and off. The University of Arizona states a programmable controller allows you to set the on and off times, so you don't have to manually "babysit" the system. For larger, more complicated systems, a controller allows you to set the start and stop times of garden zones, so different areas of your landscape can receive water on different days.

Backflow Prevention

Both universities concur that back-flow prevention is necessary. If by chance a flood or a vacuum pocket occurs, water can be sucked back into the water supply. This is called a back flow. Back-flow preventers are simple one-way valves, and are available at any plumbing supply house or garden centre. This is cheap insurance against the contamination of your water supply by a back flow.

Layout and Design

First, you must draw an overhead view of your area. Analyse where the plants are, and where you want the water to flow. Place your drip lines accordingly, and hook up the lines either to a controller, or to the outdoor faucet. The University of Arizona suggests several zones, so you can water each individually.

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