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Post  Cincinnati on 7/3/2012, 1:08 am

I finally made the time to post a thread about my Irrigation Grid. The two things that are sucking the fun right out of gardening for me are replacing damaged grids and the long hours spent every day watering plants here in the deep south.

I attempted to solve this problem by creating a PVC Pipe grid that would double as an irrigation system. I discovered that my idea was already done by others, but they were using a bit more complicated of a system. The others I have seen are plumbed into the home water supply and are on timers. Several people use commercial nozzles. My idea was to use a gravity feed system and drill holes in the PVC Pipe to serve as the nozzles.

I made the first prototype. The test in my driveway was so successful, that I overlaid it onto the grid of my 4x4 SQFT box. I used a 5 gallon bucket as the supply and simply placed it onto another 5 gallon bucket that is turned upside down. With a full bucket, the water sprays about 4-5 inches from the grid edge. It covers the grid adequately and empties the 5 gallon supply in less than a minute.

This first test was so successful, I plan on building one for each box before the fall garden is planted. I've got a video of the watering process, but I can't determine how to post it so you can view it. As soon as I learn the process, I'll post it.

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Post  Pepper on 7/3/2012, 1:39 am

Please show more.
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Post  Goosegirl on 7/3/2012, 5:19 am

I love it! This may be a project for next year!

GG
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Post  camprn on 7/3/2012, 8:05 am

Oooooh, I likey!! okay

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Post  Cincinnati on 7/3/2012, 9:14 am

Here's a video of the grid in operation:

http://portergallery.com/SQFT_Irrigation_Grid/Video.html
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Post  cheyannarach on 7/3/2012, 9:27 am

Awesome!!
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Post  Pepper on 7/3/2012, 11:32 am

I would love to see your specs on this. My soker hose is way UNDER performing.
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Post  Cincinnati on 7/6/2012, 8:49 am

@Pepper wrote:I would love to see your specs on this...

I drilled two rows of holes, each row being about 25° off the top centerline of the pipe. I spaced the holes about 4 per square side. I think I will switch to 3 per square side in the next one to see if it will deliver enough coverage. I used a No 60 drill bit so my "nozzles" are 0.040" holes (1 mm for you metric folks.).

I originally planned on converting this to a rain barrel feeding multiple boxes. However, the beauty of this system is that it automatically meters about 4 cups of water per square. So I will likely dedicate one bucket per 4x4 box. Dumping one bucket of water into the irrigation bucket is certainly faster than fighting my way through the plants to ladle water onto 16 separate squares.
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Post  CharlesB on 7/6/2012, 9:09 am

Really nice. I hope to build a few of these for my beds this winter. A few questions...

What is the fitting called that you used on the bucket that connects to the hose and where did you pick it up?

What fitting is used to connect the hose to the PVC grid?

When you water do you close the bucket valve, fill the bucket, then open the valve?

Thanks!
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Post  boffer on 7/6/2012, 11:04 am

Keep up the good work, Cinci. Most gravity fed methods that I've seen tend to peter out towards the farthest end of the pipes. The self metering is a great idea.

Although I'm familiar with the drill sizing you mentioned, I thought I would convert it to 64s that more people are familiar with and would be more likely to have on hand. 0.040=2.5/64. The smallest bit in all my sets is 1/16 (0.0625). Do you think that would be too big? Or would we need to find and buy the smaller size you recommend? I'm not sure a big box store would carry them.
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Post  Cincinnati on 7/6/2012, 12:33 pm

@CharlesB wrote: What is the fitting called that you used on the bucket that connects to the hose and where did you pick it up?
I bought all the fittings at Lowes. Most are in the section with landscape irrigation system components. The others are in plumbing.

The bucket take-off consists of:

2" plastic Nipple
Two O-Rings
Two Fender washers
Two Faucet Retaining Nuts
PVC Pipe to Male hose thread fitting

@CharlesB wrote:What fitting is used to connect the hose to the PVC grid?
PVC pipe to Female Hose fitting

@CharlesB wrote:When you water do you close the bucket valve, fill the bucket, then open the valve?
No. I dump the water into the bucket and let it immediately flow out. I included the valve For three reasons. First, I had intentions of replacing the bucket with a rain barrel. Secondly, I thought I might need to regulate the flow to get the right spray distance from the irrigation grid. Thirdly, I like to let chlorinated water sit over night for most of the chlorine to evaporate. But instead, I usually fill other buckets and let the water "age". Then I dump those buckets into the irrigation bucket.
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Post  Cincinnati on 7/6/2012, 12:55 pm

@boffer wrote:...Most gravity fed methods that I've seen tend to peter out towards the farthest end of the pipes. The self metering is a great idea.

I originally lifted the bucket to about shoulder height, increasing the head pressure to about five feet. But it didn't appear to change anything other than decreasing the time to empty the bucket and shooting the water further into the grid. The inner squares are watered from all four sides. But the squares bordering the raised bed edges only get watered from three sides. Yet even with the irrigation bucket sitting on the lower bucket, the plants seemed to get enough water. I saw no signs of dehydration on the edge squares of the bed. I was prepared to add a perimeter pipe around the 4x4 box, but I see no need to do that. Apparently the water wicks adequately throughout each square.

@boffer wrote:...Although I'm familiar with the drill sizing you mentioned, I thought I would convert it to 64s that more people are familiar with and would be more likely to have on hand. 0.040=2.5/64. The smallest bit in all my sets is 1/16 (0.0625). Do you think that would be too big? Or would we need to find and buy the smaller size you recommend? I'm not sure a big box store would carry them.

I don't know. I built my entire irrigation grid. Then I drilled holes in one line and tested it. It worked with an 0.040 hole so I didn't go any further. My gut says it will work with a 1/16 hole as well because the water should exit the pipe faster but not shoot out as far. Once the MM settles, ie some of the air space fills in, the water pools on the surface and runs over the entire square. However, Just FYI: Amazon has a pack of 12 No 60 bits for less than $14.
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Post  CindiLou on 7/6/2012, 6:13 pm

"band width exceeded" I would upload to a youtube account
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Post  Triciasgarden on 7/6/2012, 9:37 pm

That is a wonderful way of watering and I would sure destroy a lot less plants by not having to drag the hose. I would think it would also cut down on disease transmission. I also thought that this could be set up AS the grid pattern for sfg. What do you think? Since it would flood the whole bed, the water would get everywhere I would think! Take care of two birds with one stone maybe?
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Post  Cincinnati on 7/6/2012, 9:46 pm

@Triciasgarden wrote:... I also thought that this could be set up AS the grid pattern for sfg. What do you think? Since it would flood the whole bed, the water would get everywhere I would think! Take care of two birds with one stone maybe?

Tricia. I like the way you think. Before I plant my fall garden, I will replace the grid with the Irrigation Grid. Several of my boxes have broken grids. I put this over the existing grid, because my SQFT gardens were well established and I didn't want to risk damaging them trying to pull a grid.
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Post  Triciasgarden on 7/6/2012, 9:58 pm

Oh thank you! I haven't gotten grids done yet and your watering system would take care of two things for me. Thank you for posting this great watering idea!
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Post  CindiLou on 7/6/2012, 10:56 pm

I am going to try this on my tomato bed first! A 2x6 so will be nice to not have to worry about consistent watering.
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Post  Pepper on 7/7/2012, 1:23 am

What size is the PVC or did I miss that?
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Post  SwampCatNana on 7/7/2012, 11:59 am

When I tried to get the video I got this msg: Bandwidth Limit Exceeded

I also would like to know the size PVC pipe used.
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Post  Cincinnati on 7/7/2012, 10:42 pm

@Pepper wrote:What size is the PVC?

3/4"
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Post  CindiLou on 7/19/2012, 11:51 am

Dry run! Still have holes to drill and hubby is making the bucket right now. This is not the bed it will be in. This one only has loofa and pumpkin plants. This grid goes on my pepper bed. One down several more to go, 2 4x6s...2x6....2 4x4s just the ones already planted. One at a time so they will be all ready next year. This one cost $40 and is using 1/2 pvc. Hubby wanted tap on the bucket in case I wanted to store water in it. And he is going with three sprays per length. At least it can all be done in the shade of the deck! It is 84° already!

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Post  Cincinnati on 7/19/2012, 1:27 pm

@CindiLou wrote:Dry run! ...This one cost $40 and is using 1/2 pvc. Hubby wanted tap on the bucket in case I wanted to store water in it. And he is going with three sprays per length. At least it can all be done in the shade of the deck! It is 84° already!

I think 3 spays/grid length should be adequate. I'm using a 4x4 grid. I recommend drilling one path the longest length in your box and see if you have enough head pressure to feed to the end of the box, before drilling all your holes. If not, attach the bucket to the center run of the longer dimension of your raised bed.

As far as adding a valve to the bucket in case you want to store water in it, keep in mind that a new bucket is less than the cost of the valve. I get buckets at HD or Lowes for $2.50. The valve was $2.94.

My next "gravity feed reservoir" (aka bucket" will have a piece of filter screen over the outlet to trap debris that could plug the spray nozzle holes. Panty hose will work too.

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Post  CindiLou on 7/19/2012, 7:43 pm

I can't use the gravity fed on a 4x6. By the time the pressure gets to all corners, the bucket is empty. To get the bucket up in the air high enough for more pressure, I can't pour the water in it! I wanted to use rain water. He says there just isn't enough pressure for that size grid.
So hubby got out the hose. It is now a low pressure irrigation grid.
He is going to set the beds up on one line as we make them.
Switched to the side
Gravity Feed Irrigation Grid Change11

Best it got in the end of the bed. Switching to side didn't help.
Gravity Feed Irrigation Grid Low_ir10

With low hose pressure
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Last edited by CindiLou on 7/19/2012, 7:58 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added pictures)
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Post  SherrieLou on 2/11/2013, 6:55 pm

I love this idea and am about to embark on this project for my spring garden. I have 3@ 4x4 and 2@ 2x6 beds. I really want to try to use the bucket (or maybe a Rubbermaid tub) rather then the garden hose.

Trying to decide which size PVC pipe I should buy. thinking

Do you think that the lack of water pressure at the end of "CindiLou's" bed could have been because she used the 1/2" PVC instead of the 3/4" that "Cincinnati" used, or is it solely due to the larger size of the bed?
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Post  Triciasgarden on 3/22/2013, 10:08 pm

I have had more time to think and re-read this topic and sure like this idea! My beds are 4' x 6' like CindiLou's. My question is can you use a bigger bucket as your reservoir bucket and would that solve the problem of the bucket emptying before it can get to the end? I do like the idea of the chlorine from my tap water having a chance to evaporate before I would use the water.
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