Automatic Watering System
For years I've mentioned my husband's (amazing!) automatic watering system, and he finally took some time this weekend to write up allll the instructions for you.
In all honesty, as he was explaining this to me I realized this little project is WAY over my head, but if you happen to be handy (or know someone who is . . . ), I'm hoping this will be helpful for you.
This is the second home that he's installed the automatic watering system in for our hanging baskets, and it's seriously what keeps our plants looking so very happy all summer long. (Especially for hanging baskets loaded with plants like ferns and annuals that easily dry out!) I'm not quite sure we could keep these alive all summer without this handy system, so I'm crazy thankful that he figured it out.
Having an automatic watering system takes all the worry over making sure your plants are watered regularly away. We water our plants regularly each morning using the watering system, and even put potted plants underneath our hanging ferns, so that the water is re-used to water those as well. It keeps our plants happy all summer long, and works well in every climate too.. If you've been struggling to keep up with your plants throughout the summer, this system will totally work for you!
How To Make Automatic Watering System For Plants
- 1/4 inch vinyl micro tubing (50 ft length)
- 1/2 inch tubing (50 ft length – depending on the size of your porch – for our house we needed 50 feet)
- 0.5 GPH Dripper w/ Couplers
- Rain Bird 1/4 in. barbed tee
- Rain Bird 1/4 in hole punch
- Rain Bird 1/4 in couplers
- Rain Bird 1/2″ Drip Tubing End Closure
- 14″ zip ties (similar color to ones that you use on your gutters)
- ½ inch 2 hole straps
- ¾ x ½ inch reducing tee (if your sprinkler line is 3/4″ – most lines are 1/2″, check with your local hardware if you need this size)
- Rain Bird ½ inch tee
- ½ inch hose clamps
How To Set Up Automatic Plant Watering System
Prior to starting, always make sure your sprinkler system is shut off. If you don't have a sprinkler system, scroll to the bottom of the post for tips on how to create an automatic plant watering system without a sprinkler system.
Step 1: Find your existing sprinkler line
Step 2: Expose the ½ inch sprinkler line
Step 3:Using the ¼ hole punch tool, punch a hole in the ½ inch line.
(Note: Use this option if you only want the system for 1 or 2 pots or baskets. If you'd like to have more pots on one system, continue reading below.)
Insert one of the ¼ inch coupler into the hole
Attach the ¼ inch vinyl micro tubing into the other side of the 1/4 inch coupler
Run this up to your hanging baskets
Use zip ties to fasten to the back side of the downspout to hide the hose line.
Run the vinyl tubing until you reach your baskets and add a 0.5 GPH dripper on the end of the line.
Hang the baskets and turn sprinkler system back on. Now when this zone runs on your sprinkler system, these baskets that are on that zone will get water.
This works well for one or two baskets and even adding single drippers to pots along the porch or door.
How To Set Up An Automatic Watering System to Multiple Plants?
For setting up a system to water multiple baskets, you'll want to set things up a little differently. I have found that when adding multiple baskets that will require a lot of water, so I've learned to install a larger, ½ inch line along the porch line and connect the ¼ inch drippers to that.
Here is this option to set up the automatic watering system for multiple plants:
Make sure the sprinklers are turned off. Verify if the main irrigation line is ¾ inch or ½ inch. Our line in the front bed was ¾ inch. Cut the PVC line and insert a ¾ x ½ inch reducer barb tee. Reattach the irrigation line in the ground to both sides of the tee, and connect a new ½ inch line to the third side. Use the hose clamps at each connection to ensure a solid connection that won’t pull apart.
Using the zip ties, hide the line behind the gutter downspout so the line cannot be seen from the road.
Get line to back side of porch eve and use a ½ x ½ barb tee to take the line in two directions across the porch. Use the metal clamps to strengthen the connections.
Place the ½ inch line along the back side of the porch roof line, also making sure it cannot be seen from the road using the ½ inch two hole straps.
Now use the ¼ inch punch tool to punch holes into the ½ inch line at each location where a hanging basket is needed/wanted. Insert the 1/4 inch coupler into these new holes and attach the ¼ inch vinyl tubing into the other end.
Insert the ½ inch end closure at the ends of the ½ lines, and secure with a metal hose clamp.
Measure the length of ¼ inch tubing needed to get down to the hanging basket and cut this line with a pair of scissors. Attach a 0.50 GPH dripper into the end of this line.
Hide the line into the basket.
These will now all work the exact same way as the other drippers mentioned above that when the sprinkler zone is running, these drippers will be working.
How to Have An Automatic Watering System Without an Underground Sprinkler System?
If you don't have an underground sprinkler system, you can still have an automatic watering system. In our last home we didn't have an automatic sprinkler system, however James was still able to utilize the same basic concept to set up the automatic watering system.
Here's what he did:
At the outdoor faucet, he used a Y faucet splitter. To one side of the Y he used a hose adaptor to connect the 1/2″ tubing that ran to the front porch. All the other steps above are the same.
(Note: if you're not on a sprinkler system, be sure to gently turn water on to only a low water pressure so that you don't blow off your drippers and other hose connections. One other alternative is to use a pressure regulator which is what we did to make sure the water doesn't turn on too hard. )
Whenever we wanted to get water, we had to turn the faucet on, but it still was much easier than watering all of our baskets by hand.
A few helpful tips when installing an automatic watering system:
- Do this when it's warm outside because the vinyl tubing is more flexible making it easier to put the fittings into place.
- If you do make a mistake and put a hole somewhere that you don't want it, purchase 1/4″ Closure goof plugs to fix any mistakes (or if you decide you want to change the location of any of your dripper system outlets.)
Looking for more gardening tips and tricks? See how we freshen up our front yard each year easily with our begonia planting, and take a peek at how to easily make hanging baskets at home too.
I'd love to hear what you've planted this week ~ I love hearing from you!
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