Keep your container gardens hydrated all summer with a fully customized irrigation system. With the right parts, you can assemble it yourself on a Saturday afternoon.

By Jenny Krane
June 12, 2019
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You're leaving for summer vacation and realize you don't want to come home to scorched, dead flowers (or pay a plant sitter to come over to water). You can make your own irrigation system to water your container gardens from poly pipes and plastic piping parts from the hardware store. The best part is that you can customize your system to fit your garden's size and care needs, unlike store-bought systems that may require you to move your heavy containers. Follow these steps to create your own irrigation system for container gardens.

Supplies Needed

  • Drip irrigation kit (this will be helpful to get you started, but make sure you have the supplies below either in the kit or in addition to the kit)
  • Two-way garden hose connector (1/2” faucet hose fitting)
  • Irrigation timer
  • Pressure regulator
  • Mainline drip irrigation hose (1/2” poly drip irrigation tubing)
  • Plant containers
  • Tape measure
  • Tape
  • PVC pipe cutting saw, or a PVC cutting tool (for cutting the poly tubing)
  • Poly tubing end cap
  • Hammer
  • Irrigation micro tubing (1/4” vinyl micro tubing)
  • Drip irrigation hole punch
  • Drip line connectors
  • Drip hose goof plugs (to patch holes that are mispunched)
  • Potting soil
  • Plants
  • Irrigation drippers with spikes, one for each pot
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Step-by-Step Instructions

With supplies from an irrigation kit (or your assembled kit from the hardware store), you can easily install an irrigation system that will keep container plants happy all summer long. For a no-worry garden, attach it to a timer so you know your flowers will be getting enough water even if you aren't home.

Step 1: Attach 2-Way Garden Hose Connector to Outdoor Water Faucet

Attach the two-way garden hose connecter to the outside faucet. Attach an irrigation timer to one end of the hose connector. Secure the pressure regulator to the timer.

Step 2: Attach Poly Main Line Tubing to Hose Fitting

Push the tubing onto the hose fitting. Tighten the collar over the tubing.

Step 3: Design Tubing Layout

Lay out the tubing and pots to determine the design. Measure where each pot is and mark the tubing (you can use little pieces of tape to mark the tubing). Then, cut the end of the tubing and cap it. Anchor the tubing and hammer down the anchors for security.

Measure the length from the marked spots on the tubing to the spot where the drip head will be inside the pot (add a few extra inches to allow for slightly moving the pots if needed). 

Step 4: Install the Irrigation Tubing

Punch a hole in the mainline poly tubing using the drip irrigation hole punch at every spot you marked. If you punch a hole in the wrong spot, it's not the end of the world—that's what goof plugs are for. Attach a dripline connector first to the mainline tube, then attach the micro tubing drip hose onto the other end of the connector.

Related: How to Make a Self-Watering Container

Step 5: Install Irrigation Drippers

Plug dripper heads into the open end of the micro tubing, and then put them in your container. Center the dripper head in each pot so that it's just to one side of where you plan to insert your plants (the dripper’s spike is sharp, so it’s easy to insert into the soil). Fill your containers with soil—making sure the tubing is buried under the soil. Then add your plants and enjoy.

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