When I put my raised bed in I added irrigation. Garden irrigation is especially important here in Arizona because we get so little water during the summer, but irrigation techniques really can apply to everywhere. Irrigating your garden will:
- Save Water (water applied at the roots will be used more easily by the plant, no waste)
- Help your Plants (since there is no water sitting on the leaves they will be less likely to be diseased and attract fewer pests)
- Save Time (you will have the option of setting an irrigation timer or just turning on the system and doing something else while it runs)
- Can be Tied to a Rain Catching System
Setting up the irrigation system was not difficult. I researched many different ways before I went with this one. I ended up using pvc pipe under the ground to bring the water to each bed and soaker hose at each bed. With a little planning it is simple. Here is how you can set up your own irrigation system:
Map out a pipe system underground
The pipes do not have to be deep (mine are about 6 inches under the beds). If you have more than one bed or area that you want on the irrigation system then you can connect all of them this way. You can also bring your irrigation system into your bed instead of up and over, which makes it look nicer. Try to map out a system with as few turns as possible since that will be easier when you lay it.
Dig and lay the PVC pipe
Use half inch PVC pipe. This page on Amazon shows the different connectors you can use to create your system (after you click the link look in the left hand sidebar). The basic ones are a 90 degree elbow (connects two pipes at 90 degrees), a tee (connects three pipes), a three way elbow (connects two pipes at 90 degrees and the third facing up), a cap (ends a pipe), and a cross (connects four pipes). Connect the beds using an underground system.
Every place that you want a sprinkler head (or a manifold for your soaker or drip hose) you will need to have a pipe facing up into your garden bed (use a tee or three way elbow to accomplish this, depending on if it is at a corner or on a straight line). The top of that PVC should hit the top of the garden bed so when you add the soaker hose it will be sitting on the soil.
Use PVC glue to connect the pipes and fittings.
A PVC pipe cutting tool, like this one, can make cutting the pipe a lot easier! It is a fairly inexpensive tool so I highly recommend it.
Add a manifold in each bed
The manifold is the connector that will go at the top of the PVC pipe in each bed. You have lots of choices. Some manifolds allow you to control the amount of water (and how fast) that comes out of each line. Some will only have a couple lines while others may have 8 or 10. Click here to see an example of a manifold. The manifold goes in the garden bed and the soaker hoses will attach to it.
If you are trying to water an entire bed you should have one foot of soaker hose for each foot of the bed. So a 4′ x 10′ bed needs 40 feet of soaker hose. You could run 4 lines of 10 feet, 2 lines of 20 feet, 10 lines of 4 feet, it is completely up to you!
Attach the soaker hose
Now cut the soaker hose the length that you want. Fold the end and secure it with a twist tie. Attach the open end to the manifold.
Turn on the water and make sure everything works properly before you cover the PVC pipe. This way, if there is a leak, you will not have to dig it back up to fix it.
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