Drip Irrigation Basics
The gardening website of Todd and Sharon Peach

After living ten years on a nice suburban lot in the trees, we have joined a community garden (aka 'P Patch') to get a little more sun for growing veggies and flowers. Our prior home hade ample space for gardening, so we're picking up where we left off.

As we get to know our new 'neighbors' (20 or so), they are trying to navigate a looming mandate to use only drip irrigation. Since we have some prior experience with that, we dove right in and built one for our two plots (each plot is 20 x 20 feet). We have been getting lots of questions, so with this set of web pages, we hope to share what we have done. We're relying on some prior knowledge, as well as on the book Food Grown Right, in Your Backyard and guidance from dripworks.com

The Basics
Instead of an oscillating sprinkler that throws lots of water into the air, drip irrigation relies on a distributed network of hoses, small emitters, and drip tapes to place water very near to the base of the crops you're trying to grow. Water is conserved two ways: less evaporation, and less water on 'paths' and other areas where it would only benefit the weeds. Drip irrigation runs at lower water pressures than a typical garden hose. The overall goal is to put controlled amounts of water into very tightly controlled areas.

All of the (non-commercial) drip irrigation systems that I'm familiar with have a few common elements:

Adding a water timer directly on the hose bib is very handy for automated watering. In our community garden, we're also asked to add a 'gallons' meter to document water usage. Your local codes may also require a backflow preventer / vacuum breaker.

Assuming your garden is already laid out, your next step might be to look at what sizes and shapes you're dealing with and select a strategy. In our case, each plot had four raised beds, each about 3 feet wide by 15 feet long, so drip tape row crops made sense. The beds were going to be planted in long rows.

If your beds are smaller or more irregular in shape, consider garden bed layouts.

If you are trying to water a number of pots, consider deck garden kits.

We found the gallery of plans a good place to start on figuring what basic shapes and bits would work out best for us. row crop plan 13 is roughly what each of our plots look like.

Garden Hose fittings the 'beginning' of the drip system

Mainline Tubing and Fittings

Mainline into the Raised Bed up and over

Drip Tapes, fittings

Pots, 1/4 inch tubing and emitters

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