Learn how to Set Up Irrigation for Raised Backyard Beds


When the warmth of summer time arrives, it’s typically difficult to maintain your backyard well-watered. Excessive temperatures and plenty of daylight imply you must water your raised beds each few days, if not daily! Whereas irrigating with a hose or watering works tremendous, it will possibly take a very long time and grow to be a taxing job.

If you wish to simplify the watering course of, think about including a drip irrigation system to your raised beds. These programs mean you can simply irrigate your beds by turning on a aspect or flipping a swap. And once they’re put in appropriately, they final for years.

So, the place do you begin? Strolling by the irrigation aisle at a house enchancment retailer or searching irrigation fittings on-line is one choice, however it will possibly simply lead you to grow to be overwhelmed. That’s why I’ll clarify the mandatory components and steps to arrange an irrigation system that works nicely for any kind of raised mattress backyard.

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The Advantages of Drip Irrigation

Close-up of water dripping from a black hose laid on a bed of growing onion plants with long, tubular green leaves.
Environment friendly watering conserves water, retains foliage dry, and automates simply.

Should you’re uncertain if a this irrigation system is correct to your raised beds, think about its advantages. I like drip irrigation programs for the entire following causes.

  • Save water: Since drip irrigation programs add water on to the bottom quite than into the air, they use much less water than overhead irrigation programs. That is particularly useful should you stay in an space with restricted entry to water.
  • Preserve foliage dry: Drip irrigation provides water to the soil floor, which suggests plant leaves keep dry. This decreases the percentages that vegetation will develop fungal ailments like downy mildew and septoria leaf spot.
  • Simple to automate: You may set irrigation programs on a timer, that means you’ll be able to water your vegetation even once you’re not current! Going away for the weekend? No drawback! Have to water your newly planted seedlings in the midst of the workday? Simply alter your timer as vital.

Learn how to Set Up Drip Irrigation for Raised Beds

Earlier than I clarify one approach to arrange irrigation for raised beds, I wish to be clear that this isn’t the one technique that can work nicely! There are various totally different irrigation components and fittings out there, which suggests organising an irrigation system is a bit like placing puzzle items collectively. Whereas not the entire items will match collectively, there’s multiple appropriate approach to arrange irrigation for a raised mattress.

That mentioned, the next setup will work nicely for a lot of raised mattress gardens, whether or not you have got a single small mattress or a handful of bigger beds. You may both comply with these setup directions to the T or alter them primarily based in your preferences.

Create a Sketch of Your Backyard

View of a garden with metal raised beds in black, white, and green, featuring black hoses installed for watering the young seedlings planted in the beds.
Plan your backyard structure fastidiously to optimize watering effectivity.

Earlier than you even take into consideration shopping for components, make a fast sketch of your backyard space. It doesn’t should be completely exact, however attempt your finest to incorporate the right size and width of your raised beds, the house between the raised beds, and the gap between your water supply and raised beds.

After you have got a tough structure, it’s time to find out the variety of strains of drip tape you need on every of your raised beds. The best variety of strains depends upon the vegetation you’re rising, the soil kind, and plant spacing. Usually, it’s a good suggestion to have a chunk of tape each 6-12 inches. Which means you need to have wherever from two to 5 strains working down the size of a three-foot-wide mattress.

Together with figuring out what number of strains will run down every mattress, measure the spacing between your spigot and the beginning of the closest raised mattress. You must also measure the distance between every raised mattress.

Decide Which Kind of Drip Tape to Use

When you’ve discovered how a lot drip tape it’s essential cowl your beds, it’s time to decide on which kind to make use of. There are three fundamental components to take a look at once you’re selecting: emitter spacing, emitter circulation fee, and wall thickness.

Emitter Spacing

Close-up of water dripping from a long black hose onto a bed of growing pepper plants.
Select drip tape with acceptable emitter spacing for environment friendly watering.

The emitter spacing refers back to the house between every emitter. The tape is made up of a skinny and versatile tape with a sequence of holes or slits alongside one aspect of the tape. Because the tape fills with water and stress builds, water slowly trickles out of the emitters.

You’ll find emitter spacing starting from 4-60 inches, so it’s vital to concentrate to this spacing once you’re shopping for your irrigation provides. Should you’re a mean dwelling gardener rising an array of veggies, herbs, and flowers in a raised mattress combine, six-inch to 12-inch emitter spacing works nicely. This spacing permits water to penetrate all areas of your mattress and ensures all crops are well-watered.

Nonetheless, should you’re solely rising tomatoes at 18-inch spacing, it is smart to decide on 18-inch emitter spacing. You may then plant your tomatoes alongside the emitters and keep away from losing water.

Emitter Stream

Close-up of water pouring from a blue emitter in a black hose over dark brown soil.
Choose drip tape with appropriate emitter circulation for optimum watering effectivity.

Emitter circulation refers to how a lot water flows out of an emitter at a selected water stress. In america, this circulation fee is measured in gallons per hour (GPH). You’ll find emitter flows ranging from 0.11 to 0.46 GPH.

Two fundamental components influence the perfect emitter circulation fee: run size and soil kind. Since most dwelling gardens will solely use quick sections, the run size isn’t a giant issue for raised beds. Which means you’re onto soil kind. 

Excessive-flow emitters are finest for sandy soil, whereas low-flow emitters work nicely for clay. Since most raised beds are full of a soil combine that’s just like loam, a mid-flow emitter works nicely. Search for a circulation fee of 0.18 to 0.46 GPH to your raised beds.

Wall Thickness

Close-up of a black hose over dark brown soil, with drops of water dripping from tiny holes.
Think about the longevity and price of tape thickness properly.

Lastly, check out how thick every bit is. One wall thickness isn’t higher than the opposite, however thicker tape prices extra and lasts longer. You’ll find wall thickness starting from 5-15 mil. 5 mil tape will probably solely final one yr earlier than it must be changed, whereas 15 mil tape can final upwards of 5 years.

Should you’re uncertain if drip irrigation will work nicely to your backyard, think about going with the cheaper 5 mil tape. However if you wish to create a long-lasting system and restrict waste, go together with 10-15 mil tape.

Decide the Gallons Per Hour of Your System and Select a Header

Close-up of mainline tubing with many thin, long black hoses attached in a garden bed.
Calculate whole water circulation for environment friendly number of mainline tubing.

After you make a sketch of your system and decide which kind you’ll use, you’ll be able to decide the utmost gallons per hour that can circulation by your system at one time. Calculate this quantity by multiplying the variety of emitters by the emitter circulation fee.

For instance, let’s say you have got a 12-foot-long raised mattress with 4 strains. You’ve chosen six-inch emitter spacing and a circulation fee of 0.33 GPH. To calculate the variety of emitters on every bit, multiply 12 by 2 to give you 24. You may then multiply this quantity by 4 since you have got 4 strains of drip tape per mattress. Ultimately, you have got 96 emitters in your mattress.

You may then multiply 96 by 0.33 to find out your whole circulation. When all is claimed and finished, your system will use about 32 gallons of water per hour.

In case you have a number of raised beds you’d prefer to water on the similar time, full this calculation for every mattress and add these numbers collectively. For instance, if in case you have 4 raised beds within the configuration listed above, your system will use 128 gallons of water per hour.

Upon getting your system’s most gallons per hour, you’ll be able to select the right mainline tubing. That is the fabric that can run out of your water supply to your dripline. In most cases, 1/2” or 3/4” poly tubing works nicely for raised mattress gardens.

Close-up of a gardener's hands in black and green gloves setting a Header line over dark brown soil.
Start organising your irrigation system by securing the header.

Along with your provides in hand, it’s time to start out organising your irrigation system! There’s not one finest place to start out, however I like to start out by organising the header on every mattress. The header is a line of poly tubing that the drip irrigation strains connect with.

Begin by measuring the highest of your raised mattress and slicing a size of poly tubing to suit. For instance, should you’re organising drip tape on a 3 by 12 foot raised mattress, lower a three-foot size of tubing to run alongside the highest of the mattress. You may join the header to a chunk of wooden like Kevin does or safe it to the bottom with panorama staples.

As soon as the header is safe, plug one aspect with an finish cap. This may cease the water and stop it from flowing out the aspect. Add an elbow becoming to the opposite aspect of the header so water can circulation up the aspect of the mattress and into the header. You may then add one other piece of tubing to the open finish of the elbow becoming. You may both run this tubing instantly right down to the bottom or add a valve that lets you flip the water circulation on and off.

Full this course of for every of your raised beds.

Close-up of a gardener's hands connecting lines to the header in a sunny garden.
Connect drip strains to headers with cautious alignment and safe becoming.

Attaching the Drip Traces

As soon as your headers are on the high of the mattress, it’s time to connect the drip strains. This could be a little tough at first, so don’t get discouraged if it takes greater than a single attempt.

Begin by marking your headers within the locations you’d like to connect your strains. Intention for even spacing between the strains. For instance, should you’re working 4 strains throughout a three-foot mattress, set a line at six inches, 12 inches, 18 inches, and 24 inches.

Subsequent, seize an adapter becoming for every bit. These adapters will mean you can connect the versatile drip tape to the inflexible tubing. You’ll find many various kinds of adapters, however most have a barbed finish that inserts into the tubing and a twisting finish that locks the tape into place. Some adapters even have a valve that lets you flip every bit on and off.

No matter which kind of becoming you select, pay attention to the scale of the barbed finish. Your purpose is to poke a gap within the header that’s the identical dimension because the barb. For instance, if in case you have adapters with a seven-millimeter barb, poke a seven-millimeter gap within the tubing. Fortuitously, you should buy particular gap punches that mean you can poke exact holes shortly and simply. Ensure that the entire holes in your header are going through the identical course.

As soon as the holes are in place, gently twist the barbed finish of the adapter into the header till it clicks in place. That is simpler to do throughout cool climate when the poly tubing header is extra inflexible.

Securing the Tape

Subsequent, lower a chunk of drip tape that’s only a few inches longer than the size of the mattress. You may cease the circulation of water on the ends in a number of other ways. Epic Gardening founder Kevin makes use of one other piece of poly tubing to create a footer on the finish of the mattress. Securing the strains to the footer stops the water circulation and retains the strains in place.

My favourite technique entails folding the underside inch over itself two instances. After these folds are in place, safe them by slipping a one-inch lengthy piece of tape over the folded finish. As soon as the ends are blocked, I pull them taut and safe them to the bottom with panorama staples.

Now it’s time to join the drip tape to the header. Begin by twisting the locking a part of the adapter all the way in which in direction of the header. Insert the tape over the adapter’s barb with the emitters going through up. Maintain it in place as you gently twist the tip over it till it locks in place. Give the tape a mild tug to ensure it’s safe.

Set Up Your Water Provide Line

Close-up of irrigation system control components including filter and pressure regulator.
Set up a stress regulator and filter for optimum water circulation.

Subsequent, arrange your water provide line so it’s able to circulation. No matter whether or not you’re working with a regular faucet related to metropolis water or a no-freeze hydrant related to nicely water, you need to set up a stress regulator and filter.

Set up the water filter proper under the water provide to take away any particulates that may clog the emitters. Whenever you’re putting in your filter, take note of the water circulation strains and arrange the filter accordingly.

As soon as the filter is in place, add a stress regulator. Most irrigation programs work nicely at 15 PSI, so select a regulator that reduces the stress to fifteen PSI.

Close-up of a gardener's hands connecting hoses and pipes using T-fitting.
Join headers to the primary water provide with acceptable fittings.

After your filter and regulator are in place and your strains are set, it’s time to attach the headers to the primary water provide line. The precise setup will rely in your backyard’s structure. Nonetheless, the general purpose is to run tubing from the water provide to every header and use the suitable fittings to attach the totally different items of tubing collectively.

Relying on the structure, it’s possible you’ll want to make use of elbow fittings or T-fittings to attach the totally different items of poly tubing. For instance, a T-fitting is helpful to run a chunk of tubing from the mainline as much as a header on a raised mattress. And an elbow becoming works nice to direct the mainline tubing round sharp corners.

Whenever you’re all mentioned and finished, every header ought to be related to the mainline tubing, and all tubing ends ought to be safe. Take a minute to stroll round your backyard and tighten any unfastened fittings.

Take a look at Your Irrigation System

The raised bed of onions has black hoses with small holes that drip water at the base of the plants.
Conduct a take a look at of the system for leaks and alter as wanted for effectivity.

As soon as the system is all arrange, flip the water on and watch it circulation! Preserve your eyes and ears open as you carefully monitor the system for any leaks. Should you see water spouting out for a becoming, tighten the becoming and provides it one other take a look at.

It will possibly take a couple of minutes to your system to totally pressurize, so don’t be alarmed if water takes some time to start out flowing out of the emitters. Nonetheless, should you don’t see water after ten minutes, there’s probably an issue together with your system. There could also be a hidden leak reducing the water stress, or your water supply might not have sufficient stress to your complete irrigation system.

It typically takes a number of trial runs to get your system working as you want, so don’t get discouraged. Attempt tinkering with totally different components and valves till the water is flowing nicely.

Ultimate Ideas

Establishing a drip irrigation system could appear overwhelming, however the correct information turns it right into a enjoyable and satisfying venture! As soon as your system is completed, you’ll have the ability to water your raised beds by turning a single valve. Which means you’ll have extra time to reap your crops, experiment with new varieties, and spend time with these you’re keen on.

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