How To Build A Drip Irrigation System For Under $100

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How To Build A Drip Irrigation System For Under $100 A drip irrigation system can save you time, money and conserve water. This drip irrigation system can be turned on and left to do its job without you having to stand over it to monitor its progress. Using water wisely with a drip irrigation system …

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How To Build Your Own Irrigation System

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Survivopedia diy irrigation system

In the summer time, when the weather is hot (actually scorching hot in some places), what can be more important than knowing how to build your own irrigation system for your garden?

DIY irrigation systems will save you some of your hard-earned dollars, and they also make for an interesting learning experience. They help you with acquire new skills and that’s a big part of a prepper’s way of life, isn’t it?

Now, irrigation systems are essential whether you’re growing roses in your back yard for winning prizes or what not, or, more importantly, for your survival garden. Hose-watering your plants is quite a chore. You’ll have to move the hose around every 30 minutes or so and then store the hose in your yard afterward etc.; basically it’s a waste of time and resources.

Today’s article is built around a few ideas about DIY drip irrigation systems, as they’re very efficient and simple. As a matter of fact, their beauty is their simplicity, like a Swiss watch. Oh, and they’re also dirt cheap and easy to build using readily-available materials. That’s a huge plus in my book.

Soaker Hose vs. Drip Irrigation System

Taking into account that not all irrigation methods are created equal and obviously, there are quite a few systems of irrigation available, let’s begin with the basics.

While soaker hoses are the most common irrigation method for “amateurs”, i.e. home gardeners, they’re rarely used in commercial gardening for several reasons. One of the reasons is they will end up costing quite a lot. They’ll also cause you more problems than they solve.

The biggest problem with soaker hoses is that they don’t water your garden evenly. Due to their intrinsic design, i.e. they seep water all along the hose’s length, the water delivered at the beginning of the hose will always be considerably more than the quantity delivered at the end of the line; that’s a law of physics folks. Basically, there’s no way of delivering the optimal amount of water for all of your plants using soaker hoses.

Long story short, that’s inconsistent watering and it’s a big no-no for your survival garden, as it leads to rotting in some places (too much water) and your plants dying of thirst in others. Also, soaker hoses don’t function properly on slopes because they’re not pressure-compensating. The maximum length of such a system is less than 200 ft.

Another disadvantage of soaker hoses is that they’re prone to clogging easily and that leads to even more inconsistency over time. When left in the sun, soaker hoses are also prone to damage, as they’ll harden (rubber doesn’t cope too well with UV light) and get brittle in time, breaking over when you’ll need them most.

To make things worse, the soaker hoses are also prone to bursting, making a huge mess and leaking large amounts of water. And yes, a burst soaker hose is pretty hard and expensive to repair if needed, especially if it’s hardened and brittle from sun exposure.

Just check out this cool video about soaker hoses vs drip irrigation; you’ll see with your own eyes what I’m talking about. On the good side, soaker hoses are cheap and fairly easy to install compared to drip irrigation systems.

Video first seen on CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY.

Now, talking about drip irrigation, these babies are built using flexible plastic tubing that features tiny emitters (holes basically) that allow water to drip slowly into the soil.

There are a few advantages of using drip emitters over soaker hoses: they are not wasting as much water as the latter, they’re totally fixable when they break, and even if they require some maintenance, many of the parts are re-usable. They’re one hundred percent repairable, which is very important in my book.

Besides the almost–zero waste of water, a drip emitter puts the water directly where it’s needed, with pinpoint accuracy so to speak. For example, you will be able to space them (the drippers) so the water drips exactly over the root zone of your plant.

How to DIY The Drip Irrigation System

Project #1

Now, let’s see about how to DIY a PVC-made drip irrigation system. Here’s an extremely interesting video depicting the advantages of a homemade drip irrigation system compared to regular flood irrigation.

Video first seen on Utah State University Extension.

This PVC-made drip irrigation system will help you save money, time, and water. A fabulous advantage of using this design is that you’ll be able to reduce water use by up to 75%, and that’s quite a lot, especially in a survival situation. All you’ll have to do is turn it on and forget about it, as it doesn’t require monitoring or supervision.

This system uses water wisely and you’ll end up with a beautiful garden that will provide you with fresh veggies for you and your family all summer long. Also, this project is not expensive: the estimated cost for a 15ftx15ft garden is under $50 and the time to build it is approximately 5 hours. You’ll only need ¾-inch PVC pipe, a drilling machine, and connectors/fittings. These are intuitive to use, user friendly, easy to set up, and lots of fun.

Project #2

The next project is about a small-scale DIY gravity-fed drip irrigation system. The complete plans for the project can be downloaded from here. Here’s a video tutorial depicting the system working and most of the DIY details.

Video first seen on Ross Lukeman.

The materials required for this project are dirt cheap and readily available; you probably already have them lying around your property somewhere. You’ll need a 5 gallon bucket for the reservoir, a drill, garden hose fittings, irrigation tubing, some planks of wood for building the structure that holds the bucket in place (you’ll have to cut them), and that’s about it.

For added precision, you can throw in a digital irrigation timer, which gives you a lot of flexibility because it allows you to do whatever you want. For example, if you want to water your plants every morning at 8 AM with a predetermined amount of water and so on and so forth, you can arrange it; just take a look at the video.

Project #3

Now, let’s talk about the easiest way to DIY a rain-drip watering system for keeping alive a relatively large garden. This DIY project is very efficient. It uses an electronic timer, a back-flow system, and a water filter to prevent clogging. It will help you with your bills and also with conserving water if you’re living in a remote area.

Thanks to the electronic timer, this irrigation system will save you a lot of physical labor, as it will basically automate the whole process and you’ll not have to water every plant by yourself. Also, this system is expandable, adaptable and relatively cheap, and it can be used with basically anything: flowers, veggies or hanging baskets. Take a look at this video and start working.

Video first seen on RedneckResponder.

Project #4

Last but not least, here’s an interesting idea about DIY-ing a self-watering container garden. The main benefit of a container garden is its efficiency, as the plants will draw the exact amount of water required from a reservoir placed below the soil; no more, no less. Also, there’s no loss of water through evaporation.

Video first seen on XoletteLife.

This project will provide you with better-tasting veggies and fruits, as the plants are free to use as much water as needed for optimum growth. The main benefit of a self-watering container garden is its relative self-sufficiency, i.e. you can go on vacation for extended periods of time. As long as you set the hose on a timer, the plants will take care of themselves.

The total cost of this project is about $50, so you’ll not have to break the piggy bank either. Materials required:

  • Commander 27-Gallon Tote
  • 10′ Orbit Polyethylene Riser Flex Pipe,
  • FLEX-Drain Corrugated Pipe with Filter Sock 4″ x 25′
  • Apollo 3/4″ Polyethylene Drip Irrigation elbow
  • Miracle-Gro 64 qt. Moisture Control Potting Mix
  • Apollo 3/4″ PVC Drip Irrigation Female Adapter

The rest is up to you.

I hope the article helped. If you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. And click on the banner below to discover one amazing tool that any prepper should have for building what he needs for survival!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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Rainwater Harvesting: Global Storming – Bring it on

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Water harvestingInstalling a Rainwater Harvesting System (RHS) could be a major step in achieving your ideal, eco-friendly home. You could be collecting your own water through the beauty of nature rather than seeing the bills pile up on the doormat from the Utility Company. By installing a run-off system from your roof that leads to a storage area, pumps and purifiers, rainwater can be used across your home.
Even if you are already connected to the water supply, there are advantages to harvesting rainwater. If you are on a meter, your water bill will be reduced as the collected water can be put to use for non-drinking purposes such as showers, baths, flushing toilets, washing dishes. Drinking water is not easily renewable and if you wish to use your collected water for things that don’t require purification, harvesting is cost effective and requires little maintenance. It is also beneficial in terms of reducing wastage.
If you are cultivating your own crops and living off your plot of land, the collected water can be funnelled into an irrigation system. On an environmental level, the collection of rainwater will vastly improve the levels of groundwater. With a rise in population, groundwater levels have decreased and therefore increased the strife in parts of the world where water is scarce. Rainwater harvesting also reduces the level of surface water and lessens the chance of flooding, soil erosion and river contamination brought about by rainwater running through pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.

The disadvantages of rainwater harvesting are two-fold. Firstly, the initial cost of installing a storage system, purification methods and pumping can, according to YouGen, cost between $3000-$5000 (£2000-£3000 )and then running the pump will cost 5-10c a week. However you can now have your RHS plumbed straight into your existing piping and according to the Rainwater Harvesting Association can reduce your water consumption by as much as 40%. The use of a cistern to obtain drinking water in a city can be a tricky business. Shingled roofs, rather than clay or metal are less clean and liable to allow pollution to seep into the water. A pre-filtering system would have to be set up on the shingled roof prior to deposition in the tank to achieve drinkable water.

With water remaining in storage for a considerable degree of time, it is prone to stagnation, algal blooms and rodents spreading water-borne disease. Your harvesting system therefore has to be regularly maintained. Then of course, you are at the mercy of the clouds. Rainfall can be unpredictable and your levels of water will be affected by your geographical location.

The legal and red tape processes one has go through in order to begin to harvest your own water vary wildly. In 2012 a RHS case went viral when 64 year old Gary Harrington from Oregon was sentenced to 30 days in prison for illegal collection of rainwater Oregon Water Resources Department stated that Harrington had dammed up artificial water channels across his property without obtaining the correct water permit. The amount of water he collected had the potential to fill 20 Olympic size swimming pools.
Confusion lies when public water, which includes rainwater, is not obtained from an artificial run-off such as a roof or car park. Set outlines have to be adhered to when collecting rainwater in this manner and a tax credit system has been set up in the USA for those investing in RHS

At present in the UK, about 400 Rainwater Harvesting Systems are installed every year. Progress was made initially through the government’s use of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The cost of achieving a Level 1 home was relatively inexpensive. Use of compost and recycling bins achieved Level 1 status. However, building to Level 3 could cost up to £3000 with an additional £2000 code assessment for even a small build. Oddly, a zero-carbon home could only achieve Level 1 and groups such as The Construction Products Association and the Sustainable Development Commission critiqued the Code and called for its redesign. In March 2015 the Code was withdrawn for further developments
The government needs to start putting eco-friendly homes higher up on their agenda if we want to see Rainwater Harvesting Systems being employed more and more in new builds.

Further details on the process of harvesting water and sewage can be found here:

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