Consistent watering is crucial to the healthy growth of your plants. Overhead sprinklers and hand-watering with a hose work, but drip irrigation is the best way to deliver water right to the roots of your plants without wasting any water. If you add a timer, the whole process can be automated so you won’t waste any of your time, either. We used a DripWorks system that includes a small sprinkler that keeps the top couple inches of the soil watered to help seed germination. Here’s how we installed the system for one bed:
- First, before setting the bed frame in place and adding the soil, we dug a small trench running from the building spigot to underneath the bed. The mainline tubing (rubber tubing that delivers water to the system like a hose) will sit in the trench, run under the bed frame, and come up through the soil to deliver water to the drip system. Once the bed frame was constructed and positioned, we put the hose in place, running it under the bed frame, and added the soil, making sure to keep one end of the mainline tube above the level of the soil.
- Next, we calculated the length of emitter tubing (perforated tubing that allows the water to drip out) we needed to use for the raised bed by measuring the length and width of the bed. We created a 3' x 7' grid with four tubes running the length of the bed and two tubes running the width, and it all sits about six inches inside the inner perimeter of the bed.
- To assemble the grid, we used the following supplies for the bed:
We cut the emitter tubing into the following lengths:
- 3 – 7' lengths
- 7 – 1' lengths
- 1 – 6' length
- We laid the tubing out on the soil in a grid pattern.
- We used the elbows and tees to connect the tubes, forming a grid. Note the unconnected end of the tee between the 1' length and the 6' length will lead down into the soil to connect to the mainline tube.
- We connected the end of the mainline tube to the unconnected tee end.
- Once the tubing was all connected and where we wanted it, we used the wire hold downs to hold the tubing in place in the soil.
- In the center of one of the emitter tubes, we used a wire hold down to punch a hole in the tube as close to the center of the bed as possible and inserted the press fit support stake tubing to the hose. We pushed the support stake itself into the soil. To be able to turn the sprinkler on and off as needed, we attached a 1/4" Micro-Flow Valve to the loose end of the tubing, and then attached the mini-sprinkler to the valve and set it in place on top of the support stake.
- Then we connected a hose Y connection at the building spigot. One connection is dedicated to drip irrigation; the other connection is attached to a regular garden hose for other uses.
- To the spigot’s drip irrigation connection, we attached a battery-operated timer to automate watering. Right now, it’s programmed for 15 minutes once a day at 4:00 am, but we will adjust that later depending on weather and plant growth.
- We attached the ½" Easy Loc female hose start to the timer.
- We ran the mainline tubing from the bed to the building’s spigot and attached the tubing to the other end of the Easy Loc female hose start.