The Prettiest Ugly Low-Pressure Watering System

My husband and I are planning a vast gardening empire, including water-hungry blueberry and fruit trees. Though our water bill hasn’t been too extravagant, we still want to take advantage of a natural resource: rain water. My husband took initiative and created a low-pressure watering system for our fruit trees. He did all the labor; I get to write about what he did (and how lucky I am to have him!).

The Initial Rainwater Purchases and Set-up

Our little house has four stretches of gutter for rain water. Two of them divert the rain water for the entire house (another two are for the garage). This means that half of our home’s water ends up in our backyard, which has been a soggy, mosquito-plagued swamp. We purchased a 275-gallon water barrel for $70 (delivered!) and a 60-gallon rain barrel for $20 off craigslist. Although the 60-gallon rain barrel is closer to the garden, my husband set up the larger barrel under the house’s downspout because more water would come off the house than the garage. He purchased rainwater diverters for $30 and installed them himself.

The Low-Pressure System

Rain barrels lack sufficient pressure to water the garden efficiently. We had been turning the water on and then letting it drain and moving the hose around. This method, though free, is time intensive (and also annoying and impractical). My husband decided it was time to make the irrigation system he’d been wanting for the trees since we first put them into the ground. We have 12 fruit trees spaced in groups of four about ten feet apart. (See Backyard Orchard Culture).

My husband bought ¾” CPVC pipes (about 90 feet) and a quick disconnect to connect the hose to the pipes, a dozen elbows, five T connectors. He bought a #60 drill bit, which is smaller than 1/16th of an inch (he recommends buying extra because they break easily!). The small drill bit is necessary to ensure sufficient pressure at the end of the section you’re building. He spent about $65 for materials.IMG_20160828_163029276_HDR

He drilled small holes into the pipes in such a way that he created openings near the top of the pipe. He began by drilling straight down into the pipe to allow the bit to catch. He then leveled out the drill more to the side to create a sideways opening from the pipe. He tried to make the drill as parallel to the ground as he could at that point. (This could also be why he broke drill bits).

Total cost:  $215.

The system works. When he called me out to come look at the irrigation system in action, I was a little surprised to see little jet-like spurts of water coming from the pipes. It was downright magical. It’s not particularly attractive, but it will save us time and money in the long run. That’s pretty enough for me.

IMG_20160828_185653260
The last fruit-tree grouping; there is still sufficient pressure by the end of the loop to water these peach trees.
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