Preparing to Water the Garden




Introduction: Preparing to Water the Garden

The list of supplies is numerous and you may not have any of the items needed. If you wanted to attempt a project like this, there are a few tools that you would find useful. The raw materials are up to you to scrounge up.

Chop saw

Table saw

Dado blade for said table saw

Cordless drill with screw bit

Measuring tape and pencil

Adjustable wrench

Claw hammer and pry bar

Sun screen and patience

A tractor with forks to move full barrels to and from the garden

This is more of a personal journey, a story if you will. This is how I brought water out to my garden. I guess I could have used a hose. That would have been no fun at all now, would it? So join me on my garden watering odyssey.

Step 1: Lumber

Need lumber? Find an old fence, one that the wind has done serious harm to. First stop for me, my own back yard. Believe me, when you price out a new fence, you'll need free lumber for your hobby projects. When they quoted me $1500 to remove this 40 year old mess. I thought.... That was a mistake. I thought. I shouldn't have allowed my mind to wander into that space. Creative thought is always easy. When reality sets in, you discover things. As was the case with this project. Keep in mind, I wanted 2x4s and 4x4s without nails in them.

Here are some of my discoveries:

Why it costs a lot of money to remove a fence

40 yr old nails don't want to move

40 yr old 1" boards are not reusable

Bees, spiders,and many other undesirable creatures love old fences

July is a hot month

I am not a young man any more

So it took me close to two weeks to knock this down. One panel at a time, I removed every board and every nail. Most of the 4x4 s were broken off at ground level the others were no match for the Kabota 3130. My wife carried most of the boards to the 6x12 enclosed trailer while I was prying banging and pulling etc. The 1x6 boards from 300ft of fence fill a 6x12 trailer completely and cost $250 to dispose of. The 30lbs of nails just add to the scrap metal collection. The saved lumber has been patiently waiting under my barn's overhang for close to a year now.

I saved $1250 so I guess I made decent hourly wages, but wow! The guys that do this kind of work are worth the money.

Any way, this is not an Instructable on how to take down a fence so let's move on.

Step 2: Find Some Barrels

I found these on Kijiji for $20 each

They were chlorine barrels from a cleaners.

I figure chlorine is as sterile as you can get.

Just rinse well or the residue will burn your plants.

I won't get into why I know this as fact (-:

Step 3: Have a Plan or Sample

I built four of these a few years ago. I found the idea on Instructables. Here's the link Raised Planter Stand

I changed the plan a bit, using two 2x4s below the barrel. This is so water wouldn't drain onto the single one and rot it out. I love these planters. If the whole garden was in them my back would be thrilled.

Step 4: Plumbing Parts

I started buy finding plumbing I liked. There are so many fittings and valves out there its mind boggling. One of the bung caps that came on the barrels has a national pipe thread female area in its center. All you do is break out the molded bottom to open it.

Step 5: Teflon Tape

Water is one of those things that finds a way. If given a chance it will find a way out. These fittings bring you from NPT thread to a garden hose connection. The valve has a connection on each end allowing you to position the handle to the top after the other fittings are tight. Don't forget the Teflon tape to prevent leaks.

Step 6: Abs Glue for Abs Pipe

A vent is needed to allow the water to enter the barrel. I didn't want to drill holes in these barrels. so I used the garden hose as the entry point. Without a vent water won't enter freely. So I have used abs fittings. One with threads to fit the barrel's opening. Then an elbow and piece of pipe as a riser to vent above the barrel's top edge. The glue that you use to connect these pieces sets quickly so be ready. Glue the part and push together while twisting. It's done in seconds.

Step 7: Assemble X 4

The plumbing is one of the easiest parts of this project.

Step 8: Measurments Are Important

To be successful at rocket science one must measure and measure again.

Jotting down such measurements is also important.

So there I am out in the garden jotting down some important numbers from my existing planters.

Step 9: Lets Cut Some Pieces

This is where the chop saw comes in handy. I guess a hand saw would do the trick as well, If you have good elbows that is. 30 years of physical abuse in the factory = chop saw. Try to avoid nail holes. They could contain left over surprises that your saw blade wouldn't like all that much. As you can see this used lumber has almost as much waste as usable product.

Step 10: Table Saw Time

A table saw with a dado blade is a wonderful tool. This blade can be set to do multiple width cuts. We need to remove the maximum amount possible. All blades will be used. There are two full round blades that sandwich narrow rectangular blades with only two teeth.

Step 11: The Dado Cuts

I set the height of cut with a piece of 2x4. Very high tech measuring technique, don't you think? Using the same technique I set the fence position. With the miter gauge set to 90° its time to make the first dado cut. Push the 4x4 up to the fence while holding firmly against the miter gauge, make the first cut. Now you just move the 4x4 to the right slightly and make as many passes as it takes to get to the end. Make this cut on all the legs.

Step 12: Measure and Make the Cross Brace Dado Cuts

To be able to accommodate the measurement, I had to move my fence to the other side of the table. There is an adjustable table top on the right side of this saw that came in handy. I made the first brace dado cut on all legs, then measured width needed and made the rest of the cuts.

Step 13: Finish the Dado Cuts on Legs

This procedure of cutting each edge of the opening then removing the center is easy enough. I did find later that 2x4s aren't exactly the same dimension after weathering for 40 years. Even though one end may fit the cuts, the other may not. I had to bring the table saw back out after cleaning up to make slight adjustments to a few openings during assembly.

Step 14: The Cross Braces Need Dados As Well

Now I cut more dado cuts for the 2x4 stretchers to fit into.

Step 15: Assembly Time

This is where the cordless drill with a screw bit comes in handy. A screwdriver could be used if carpal tunnel syndrome is your desired outcome. I assembled all the ends first. As I mentioned earlier, I had to disassemble three of them to shave off a bit of the 2x4 openings to accommodate the thicker lumber.

Step 16: Adding the Barrels

The barrels slid into place nicely. Don't they look nice all in a row?

Step 17: More Plumbing

The first picture shows both male and female hose connectors ready for assembly. After looking at what I had to do, I realized my error. I need hoses with two female ends. Similar to what you use to hook up a hose reel to your outdoor faucet. I have an existing water tote beside my barn. Unfortunately a tractor as small as mine can't lift it. A hose is attached to it already. I bought a four way hose manifold to hook everything together.

Step 18: Now I Wait for Rain

Rain is in the forecast so I shouldn't have to wait long.

Step 19: Its Off to the Garden

I spread the barrels out along the edge of the garden. I think they look great.

Step 20: An Adjustment Is Needed

I found that after filling and moving these, I needed two more pieces. Unlike my planters of the same design, the barrels aren't attached to the top stringer board. When I moved them around the frames started to spread open at the top. Now that that's fixed with 2x4 bracing they should be much more sturdy. Now I wait for rain again.

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    3 years ago

    I'm a little confused! ..please tell me if I've interpreted correctly: you have the barrels positioned near a shed where they collect rainwater, and then you then move them into position at your garden space when they are full, presumably with a tractor. Is that right?


    Reply 3 years ago

    I'm confused that you're confused.
    I had to go back and read my Instructable again to see where I erred. In the introduction one of the tools required is,
    "A tractor with forks to move full barrels to and from the garden" .
    Now I suspect your confusion may be more a question of why in the world would any one want to do this.
    That, is a valid question.
    My garden is more than 500 feet from my barn. The roof surface is at least 5000 sq ft so barrels fill with even a short rain. In the past I've carried watering cans back and forth when the weather turned dry. The past two years have blessed me with 6 to 8 weeks of drought during July an August. That means many many trips back and forth. I'm blessed to have a drilled well as a water supply so I can, and have, run what felt like miles of hose and placed sprinklers through the rows of veggies. Problem is my water is fairly hard and plants don't particularly like it. They stay alive when I use it during drought but when it rains you can almost watch everything grow. I also filter my well water so I prefer not using it for gardening. I also believe collecting rain water is a greener alternative, it falls from the sky or free.
    I hope this alleviates your confusion. I want you to sleep soundly, I would lay awake worrying If I thought you were loosing sleep over my Instructable.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Well now, I missed that critical line and became that guy . . that asks a dumb question that was already answered in the text! My bad!! :D


    Reply 3 years ago

    I've always been told, there is no such thing as a "dumb question".
    My rather lengthy reply could explain to others, why I felt the need to create these.