DIY drip feed irrigation system

September 30 2014

A drip feed irrigation system is the ideal accompaniment to your relaxed Geelong lifestyle.

Also called drip line irrigation, this irrigation system ensures your garden looks lush and healthy all summer, without you spending hours outside with a hose every evening – it’ll save you costs on your water bills too!

Drip feed irrigation provides even watering to your plants at ground level where they need moisture most.  Its best set up with a tap timer to ensure regular, fixed watering.  Your system can work manually, but don’t forget to turn it off or you won’t be saving anything on your water bills and you could flood your plants!

It makes sense to install your drip feed irrigation system around the outside of your garden, or through low traffic area, where they’re unlikely to be kicked, trodden on and damaged.  You also don’t want to install the system anywhere you’re likely to be digging up regularly.

You can use the system with hanging and garden pots, just be mindful of the aesthetics of plastic piping all over your ornamental features.

To start, you’ll need the following irrigation supplies:

  • Pressure control valve – connected directly to the mains water supply, the pressure control valve makes sure you get constant pressure throughout the system
  • Automatic timer – to control when and for how long you water. You can opt for the manual option, but don’t forget! An automatic timer will also ensure your garden is adequately watered while you’re away.
  • Main supply pipe or hose – usually a semi-rigid hose, 13mm diameter with the right connections and fittings to convey water throughout the garden with minimum loss of pressure.
  • Supply pipe or tube – a narrow gauge (4-6mm diameter) flexible pipe that connects off the main supply pipe to individual parts of the garden or pots.
  • Drip heads – individual drippers may be inserted at intervals along the supply pipe or you can use a single dripper at the end of each supply pipe. The amount of water drippers measure out is adjustable, but they are normally calibrated to deliver 2 or 4 litres per hour.
  • Dripper stakes – to prevent clogging, dipper stakes can be used to hold dripper heads clear of the soil. Alternatively, you can usually achieve this using garden wire.

To set up:

  • You’ll need a plumber to connect the pressure valve and timer to the water mains.
  • Connect up the main supply pipe and lead out through the garden.
  • Connect up your supply pipes leading off the main pipe into individual parts of the garden and pots.
  • Position at least one dripper near the rooting area of each plant or pot. If watering a lawn, place drippers evenly about 20cm apart.  Keep drippers clear of the soil by using stakes or wire.
  • Check the flow to all dripper heads by turning on the water. Experiment with timings to establish how long you need to set your timer to adequately water your garden.  Start with a short period (5-10min) and build up until you’re happy.  In dryer weeks you may need to increase the watering time. You can invest in an inexpensive hand held moisture meter to more accurately check how much water is needed.
  • Set the timer accordingly. As any good gardener knows, it’s normally best to water in the evening to minimise water loss by evaporation.

Maintaining your drip feed irrigation system:

Once set up, a domestic drip line irrigation system shouldn’t require much maintenance.  Keep an eye on the moisture levels in the soil using a handheld meter or, literally, your eyes.  Watering times and frequency will need to be adjusted through different seasons.  Check the dripper heads and ends of your supply pipes regularly to prevent any debris build up.  Overtime; weather and the elements will take their toll on parts of the system.  Drop into see us a Wallington’s WRG and we can offer advice on maintenance and supply the right parts to keep your garden green.

Good luck! And remember, we’re happy to help. Drop in for a chat or call us 7 days a week.