Picture of Rainwater drip irrigation system
Here's a simple drip irrigation system that uses gravity to put rain water from a rain barrel exactly where it's needed in the vegetable garden. This dripper is designed for a square foot garden system, but can be used in any garden situation.

Drip irrigation is very efficient. Water is put exactly where it's needed-at the root system of the plants. No water is wasted due to runoff or evaporation.

This is my entry for the Get in the Garden contest. I hope you like it!

Step 1: Dripper Materials

Picture of Dripper Materials
This project is constructed out of 1/2" PVC. Here's what you'll need:

4 4" long pieces of 1/2" PVC
2 36" long pieces of 1/2" PVC
2 90 degree elbows for 1/2" PVC
1 four way connector for 1/2" PVC (a tee connector could be used here)
1 female hose connector for 1/2" PVC
1 male connector for 1/2" PVC (if a tee connector is used, this isn't needed)
2 end caps for 1/2" PVC

1 drill
1 1/16" drill bit
1 hacksaw
PVC primer
PVC glue
tape measure
WilliamH251 month ago

i need a watering system for both sides of yard for hedges 200 feet each side would this work thanks

WilliamH251 month ago


WilliamH251 month ago
I had some success with a drip system made from hosepipes but the holes get blocked by algae. Any ideas other than painting the water barrel black to block out sunlight?

We'll be building an elevated barrel system with an outdoor pond pump (they're only like $50) to prevent insect growth and algea growth, and we'll place a removable cap on the end so we can flush out the pipes once and a while. I might suggest either of these methods.

Tree Frog (author) 6 years ago
Sorry...in Step 7, I meant "YOUR plants will thank you"...not "YOU'RE plants will thank you"
As the author of the article, can't you simply correct it?
macmcb3 years ago
I know it's been a while since this post, but... Does more water drip from the holes closest to the rain barrel? (If so, how much more?)

I'd like to build this myself and wonder if anyone has noticed this issue. Thanks for the great instructable.
Tree Frog (author)  macmcb3 years ago
No...the drip is uniform...assuming that the unit is reasonably level.
rhaubejoi5 years ago
Very cool instructable. Great idea using things we usually keep around the house (having a well instead of city water and living in a VERY rural area teaches you that its cheaper to have some extra pvc and connectors on-hand than to drive 30 miles for a 15 cent part!) Thanks for a great idea and a well written/documented project!
antpix6 years ago
Great concept. An alternative idea, would to replace the piping with offcuts of hose pipes to allow more movement around plants.
Wal- Tor6 years ago
Isn't drip irrigation supposed to be controlled by a computer that knows how much water is needed?
Tree Frog (author)  Wal- Tor6 years ago
Not necessarily. Soaker hoses are technically drip irrigation. This is a form of drip irrigation as well. After using it a couple of times, you can calculate how much water is being delivered based on timing. If your rain barrel is delivering 3 gallons of water a minute, you know that you've applied 15 gallons if you let it run for 5 minutes. Essentially, you are the controller for the system instead of having a computer controller. You could also install a simple timer between the hose bib on the rain barrel and the dripper. That would shut the system down after a preset amount of time.
awang86 years ago
Umm... I don't know if this works for anyone else but my water tank (no pump, just pressure-powered) tends to pump out so much water that it's more of a stream than drops.
Tree Frog (author)  awang86 years ago
My rain barrel has a hose bib on the bottom, so you can regulate the amount of water coming out. You could also use a hose shut off valve at the dripper to regulate the amount of water being used.
Jason_G6 years ago
A simple & expandable drip system- very nice. Looks so simple, I bet even I could do it. How many do you have chained together in your garden?
Tree Frog (author)  Jason_G6 years ago
Right now I only have the one. I'd think that the number you could link together would be limited by how much higher the rain barrel is than the garden. I'd guess you could link three or four without much problem. My garden is on a slope, and my rain barrel is three feet higher than the top of the garden, and eight feet higher than the bottom of the garden. You'd probably have to use a valve system to regulate the flow equally...
kudoskun6 years ago
Does the hole drilled side go up or down in the garden? Im guessing down, so water doesnt sit in the tubes and stagnate...
Tree Frog (author)  kudoskun6 years ago
Right...the holes go down, so the water drips into the soil.
kudoskun6 years ago
Simple and straight-forward. I like +1