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How to Design a Drip Irrigation System using PVC pipe

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Written by Sharyl Stockstill   


Just walking through your local hardware store can really open a person’s eye to the new availability of drip irrigation systems.  They are not just for small yards and patios, but also for large yards and gardens.  Drip irrigation allows for conservation of watering and ensures that garden plants receive an adequate amount of water--while avoiding issues of evaporation and wasting water on weeds. A good irrigation system can be designed using PVC pipe, which is durable and cost-effective and easy to work with.

Water can be from many sources, including irrigation ditches, streams, ponds and wells.  Drip irrigation systems can also be successfully set up using a catch water system from nearby houses or buildings.

Step 1

Take measurements of your garden area where you will install the drip irrigation system. By having the proper measurements, you can lay out your design on the graph paper. Also, mark where water connections are in relation to the garden. This will help with the calculations on how much pipe and how many fittings will be necessary.

Emitters use up to one gallon of water per hour. To calculate the diameter of your lines, count the number of emitters along each line. If you find you have too many emitters for your system to work properly, you can set up zones that will water at different times to take the pressure off of the drip irrigation system as a whole.

Step 2

Create a scale drawing by laying out your planned crops within the dimensions of the garden. Arrange your crops so that anything that can be put on the drip system is in one area while crops that will benefit the most from sprinklers are in another area.

Trees, vines, and other permanent crops are excellent candidates for a PVC pipe drip irrigation system.

Hill crops such as squash, melons and cucumbers will work best for the first-time drip irrigation system, especially if you are planning to only install it in part of your garden the first year.

Step 3

Draw in your drip irrigation line. Now that you know where you will need the water, you can easily estimate the fittings and footage of PVC pipe you will need.

Consider how often you will move your drip irrigation lines. You may have some lines that can be permanent and you can glue them into place. Others may need to be moved at some point, so gluing may not be desired. The PVC pipe will fit together tightly enough that normal drip line pressure will not cause any leaks.


Moderately Easy

Things You'll Need

Graph paper Pencil Tape measure


Consider adding an electronic timer to your drip irrigation system to automate watering. You can include permanent crops such as trees, vines and rhubarb to your design for drip irrigation.


PVC Drip system for home garden design a home garden drip system pvc drip system


Irrigation Tutorials: Drip Irrigation System Design Guidelines Colorado State Extension Service: Drip Irrigation for Home Gardens University of Rhode Island: Drip Irrigation for the Home Garden


Utah State Extension Service

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