How to Build a Gravity Feed Drip Irrigation System

What You'll Need
50-gallon drum
Inline valve
1" PVC pipe (12 inches long)
PVC straight line connector
PVC elbow connector
2 rubber washers
1" plastic tubing
2 metal hose clamps
PVC primer
PVC adhesive
1" drill bit
Cinder blocks

Homeowners are discovering that a drip irrigation system can not only reduce water consumption but can provide a way to control amounts of fertilizer and other soil nutrients for vegetable and flower gardens. To build your own gravity-fed, drip irrigation system check the information below:

Step 1 – Choose Your Water Barrel Location

Your water barrel will provide water and nutrients to your garden and will feed the garden through a tube, so you will need this water source as close as possible to your garden. Because the water will be gravity fed, you won't need a pump or electrical power. But you will need the ground surface on which you build the barrel stand to be level. So, choose the right spot to accommodate these needs.

Step 2 – Build Your Water Barrel Stand

The stand on which your water barrel will rest will be a key element in your system because its elevation will determine the pressure of the water delivered to your garden. To build it properly, stack cinder blocks on a flat and level piece of solid ground. If necessary, build a concrete base on which you can solidly rest your stand. The top surface of the stand should be at least 4 feet high. If you build it higher you will need a ladder to gain access to the barrel to add water and nutrients. If the stand surface is less than 4 feet your water pressure will likely be insufficient.

Step 3 – Install Your PVC Connector

Drill a hole in the side of your barrel, 1 inch in diameter and 2 inches up from the surface of the stand. Cut three lengths of 1-inch PVC pipe, each 2 1/8 inches long. Apply PVC primer to these pieces and to the inside of your connector piece. When the primer is dry, apply PVC glue to the inside surface of your connector and the outside surface of one of your three PVC pieces. Then, glue the pipe to the connector. Place a rubber washer on this pipe, and insert the pipe into the barrel hole from inside the barrel. Push the pipe through the hold until the washer is positioned against the inside surface of the drum. Place another rubber washer on outside the end of the pipe and push this washer up tight up against the barrel surface. Then, onto this pipe end, glue your elbow connector, with the open end pointed toward the ground.

Step 4 – Connect Your In-line Valve

Prime and glue one end of a second 1-inch pipe into the elbow connector, prime the valve's inner surface, and insert into it the pipe you glued to the elbow connector. Then, prime and glue the last piece of PVC pipe into the open end of the in-line valve.

Step 5 – Attach Your Tubing

Attach one end of a tube to the end of the PVC pipe connected to your assembly, using a pipe clamp. Attach the other end of the tube to the pipe that feeds your garden.