Putting in an irrigation system to raised bed gardens is not necessary, but I don’t have the time to individually water plants for the four garden areas I’m putting in. Being in a desert, if I missed a day or two I would definitely lose plants when summer comes.
At this point I put the empty raised bed garden structures in what I thought would be a good layout. From there I just started to move them around. The frames are really light so re-positioning them was simple.
Once the general position was figured out I did the following to finalize the position:
- I drove a stake in the ground to reference where the fronts of the raised bed gardens would go
- Tied a string on the stake
- Put a really big nail on the other side of the string
- Used a square to referenced off an existing concrete walkway
After the locations of the beds was finalized by measuring distances and squaring the fronts to the reference string, the outside corners where the irrigation would cross was marked with marking paint. I used marking paint because I had some, use what you have to reference the corners.
Luckily the existing irrigation ran under or near 3 of the 4 beds so it was a matter of digging to expose the PVC pipe where the modifications needed to be done.
The PVC was cut so T couplers could be added for each bed.
There is really only 3 things you need to work with PVC irrigation pipe
- Purple Primer
- PVC Cement
- Something to cut the PVC (I use an old hacksaw because I’m not spending $20 on a specialized PVC saw. I don’t think I would save that much time.)
To glue, cement, the PVC irrigation pipe together
- Get rid of all the burrs on the cut pipe
- Apply Purple Primer where the pieces will meet, this includes both the coupler and pipe
- Apply the PVC cement to the primed areas
- Push the pieces together (remember to work quickly the cement sets fast)
It always helps to dry fit everything first I’m not kidding when I say the cement sets fast.
I had to trench and lay new irrigation PVC pipe to one of the beds off to the side.
The ground wasn’t level in some areas. This was especially true of the raised bed off to the side where the grounds sloped down in an area by about 4 inches. Fill dirt from converting my lawn in the front yard was used to level out these areas.
To help with controlling the weeds and keep the tree roots from getting into my raised beds, I put down some weed blocker fabric.
When doing the installation, overlay the weed blocker by 4 inches and it is recommended to use lawn staples every 4 feet.
The reference string was setup again. Up to this point the stake was never taken out of the ground.
Final positioning was done using the reference string and a tape measure.
I used black 1/2 inch flexible pipe to distribute the water to the soaker hoses. To connect this to the PVC pipe there is a threaded cap that needs to be installed on the PVC and a PVC to black pipe adapter.
I found that a clamp was necessary to keep the black pipe on the adapter. Also, the protrusion of the logo can potentially cause leaks. I had to file down if the leak occurs from this area. It looked like a manufacturing defect because some of the other ones had this filed down already.
I decided to use the 1/4 inch soaker tubing instead of the drip tubing because I wanted a wide dispersion of the water over the whole bed instead of just down rows.
This is the one of the few cases when buying a specialized tool really pays off. Most definitely buy the tool that punches holes in the black pipe. The back side of this should have a hole in it. This is used to help push in the 1/4 inch barb connectors.
I laid out 8 rows of the soaker hose. The outside rows are 4 inches from the edge with the inside rows being 6 inches apart.
At the end of each soaker hose row a 1/4 inch plug was used to cap off the end and a hose stake held it in place.
I figured out that it takes around 4 minutes for the irrigation system to soak the beds thoroughly. We’ll see what I have to do come summer time, but for now running it every other day seems good.
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