How to Build a PVC Drip Irrigation System

– I’m Jeff Banks. I’m an Extension Agent for Utah State University here in Juab County. Today, we’re going to.

– I’m Jeff Banks. I’m an Extension Agent
for Utah State University here in Juab County. Today, we’re going to talk
about drip irrigation and how you can conserve water
by using different methods and a different method
of drip irrigation around your home, yard and in the garden. The system, it is
designed to use PVC pipe, schedule 40 PVC and ball
valves and fittings. It’s a system that is very easy to use, very user-friendly, easy to set up and today, I’m going to show you the
basic details of this and show you how this system works. My system, I used 3/4 inch
pipe all the way through and that’s kind of the,
probably the choice of most people using PVC pipe. This system is designed so that anything in front of ball valves, anything in front of these
ball valves is all glued to handle the high pressure. I know people that will have 100, over 100 pounds of pressure
in this mainline and so that’s why you glue everything in front of these ball valves. Then, after the ball
valves, you don’t have to glue any of these because
once you open up the valves and let the holes in the
lines that we will show you in a few minutes, it reduces the pressure so you don’t have to glue everything. So, the way that you
take care of these is, the rows that you don’t want to water, you have these little plugs, you just pull out and
you push them back in and then the plug, it restricts the water from
coming down those rows. So, this year, I’ve got
several feet in between my squashes I’m going to have here. Okay, the secondary lines,
your irrigation lines that I just want to talk about briefly, is again all out of PVC pipe. You take these pipes,
you do not glue them. You just straight set
them into these little Ts. Okay, once it’s all set up, a person can decide which way they want to have the holes up. Most people will put the holes down, you will turn the pipe with the holes down but some people like with the holes up. It’s kind of a matter of preference. I like the holes down
because the water will drain out of the lines, so if a person is going to
use this with the holes up, what we recommend is, about every three feet
on the opposite side, they drill a little small
hole, a little drainage hole that will help drain the water out. Okay, one of the biggest
questions we have on this system is what size holes do you
put in your irrigation lines? Different hole sizes have
been tried but the preference that we use, that we’ve come
up with through the years that has had the best
result is a 1/16 inch. The first time I drilled all my holes, after I had them marked, I was down on my hands
and knees down on the lawn drilling my holes and
then, the next time around, I had somebody suggest to me, you know, if you had some tables, it sure makes it a lot
easier on drilling the holes. So, that’s what I’ve got here
set up and I want to show you. Okay, so you use a 1/16 inch bit. You don’t need a lot of
heavy-duty equipment. A tape measure and some
kind of marking tool and then a drill. The preferred method, I get people asking me
the question on spacing, how many holes do we put in? The thing that seems to work the best when you’re doing things like corn, peas, carrots, beans, these types of things, you drill a 1/16 inch
hole every six inches. Then, if you’re going to do things like tomatoes, squash, these types of things, this would be personal preference on how far apart you have them. On my tomatoes, I like
to have my tomatoes have a little bit of room so
mine are every four feet. Some of my squash plants are
up to five, six feet apart. So, what you do on that is
that you’ll drill a group of two to three holes
about five feet apart. So, I want to show you
how I like to do it. I’ll take my tape measure
and I’ll mark it out. I’ll go the full length,
whatever length I was going to go and then just a little magic marker. I’m going to do it every
six inches for like corn, these type of things, so I’ll go along the
whole length of the pipe and measure them and then, like I said, some type of little drill. You just come in and you
drill 1/16 inch holes about every six inches. You want to make sure you
don’t go all the way through and drill a hole in the table
or you will get in trouble. Another thing to consider, and
I was going to show you this at the very first, is a lot
of people that I’ve talked to, they drill their holes and
then they talk to me about well, their holes aren’t lined up and they’re kind of crooked, so what I suggest they do, you just take another
one of your little Ts, you’ve probably already bought somewhere, put a couple little pieces
of the pipe in there and then go ahead and put that on the end and then as you go through and mark it, it will hold that pipe still and it won’t roll back and forth. I want to show you how
I designed my system to work on raised beds. Again, the same kind of principle. We have the main delivery line. It goes along the edge
of all my raised beds. Then, I have my break-off
or my secondary lines like I mentioned in my traditional garden. How I designed mine is I’ve
got three different rows in this raised bed. My strawberry plants down here, they’re designed a little bit different than what I have here. Right now, I want to use
my entire raised bed. I’ve got radishes planted already here. I’ve got some peppers
in the middle and then on the outside, when
the radishes are done, I’m going to plant some bush beans but the way I’ve designed it, you don’t water your peppers and beans and everything the same. I’ve got three different
ball valves so I can have, I can irrigate three different
ways in this raised bed. On the raised bed, I have some people that
want to use the entire bed so another way to drill holes, besides just drilling
holes like on one side is to drill the hole all the way through. On this raised bed here, and my strawberries are designed this way, I’ve got a hole that
goes all the way through, I drilled through and I
went every three inches. That way, I can water
from one edge of the bed clear to the middle and
then each of the rows, I can water the entire bed. I just want to show you
what it actually looks like by using that system. Like, when I’m just watering, when I’m just watering
right next to the pipe, that’s what it looks like. It just comes out, it’s
just a very small stream. More of a stream than an
actual drip system on it. If I want to water even more, say if I’ve got a bed
like my strawberries. When I do my strawberries, I will turn the valve
basically completely open and then it will cover from
one side to the other so I can irrigate the entire bed. For the best results with this, it needs to be pretty level. The main line doesn’t have to be level but your irrigation lines, they
need to be as level as possible. They don’t have to be laser-level, but they need to be fairly level. A way that a person can make changes if your ground is sloped, you can put some bricks or
something underneath the lines to try to make them just
as level as you can. You’ll have much better
success by doing that. We are down here, here at Nephi at a brand new community garden
that we just developed this past Fall and this Spring, this is the first year of using it. We have 20 raised beds here. We designed this irrigation system after the same type of idea. Here’s the main line, it’s
the main distribution line. It is all glued and it goes all
the way down this whole line and then we have the break-off lines for each individual bed. They can open and close
the valves for each plant. This is just another way that
you can adapt this system to meet raised beds or other ideas. By using this system, depending
on what you compare it to, I’m comparing it to the
test studies that we did versus, like, row or flood irrigating, we figure we are saving
at least 75 to 80% water by using this little
drip irrigation system. I’ve had people in other
places confirm the same thing, saying that they’ve saved 75 to 80% water compared to what they had been using. We have a new fact sheet that
was put online in May of 2012. It’s called “Designing the Basic PVC
Drip Irrigation System.” It’s a fun little system to use, very simple to use, easy to design. We hope that you’ll take a look at it or look at other kinds of
drip irrigation systems. If you have questions about this system or if I can be of help to you on designing or questions you may have, you can get a hold of
me at [email protected] or you can get a hold of me at my office number 435-623-3452. I hope this has helped and have a great gardening season.

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