Homemade PVC Irrigation System

PVC irrigation - full length view

It has been really dry this year in our area so I’ve had to get out my homemade PVC irrigation system. This system works very well and is relatively inexpensive compared to regular drip irrigation setups. It works especially well in my rectangular four foot wide, twenty foot long wide-row beds.

PVC irrigation - around tomato plants

I use the PVC irrigation system mainly for the tomato plants as these are the prize of our garden. The system works equally well for cucumbers, cantaloupe, beans, corn and larger vegetable beds. The system is easy to setup and break down at the beginning and end of the season. It is also easy to reconfigure as needed and move around the garden.

Here is the parts list. You can find all parts at a home warehouse store.

Parts list:

  • 3/4” standard PVC pipe (I use 10 foot lengths)
  • Slip couplings (used to connect pipe lengths)
  • Slip 90 degree elbows
  • Slip T fittings
  • Slip caps (used for the end of line)
  • Female adapters both slip adapter and garden hose adapter

Below are pictures of the various fittings.

PVC irrigation - slip coupling

PVC irrigation - elbow

PVC irrigation - slip cap

PVC irrigation - female garden hose adapter and slip adapter

Tools needed:

  • Drill
  • 3/32” drill bit
  • Pliers or wrench to screw in garden hose adapter

Initial steps to prepare system:

  • Cut pipe lengths for connecting long lines to each other according to your garden configuration. I have several different lengths depending on how I want to connect the long lines
  • Drill 3/32” holes in the long lines about 8 to 12 inches apart down the length of the pipe. I mainly use 12 inch spacing.
  • Slip on caps at one end of pipes that will be the end of the line.
  • Slip on couplings, tees, elbows and garden hose adapter based on your configuration setup.

PVC irrigation - pipe size

PVC irrigation - hole size

PVC irrigation - connecting configuration

That’s it! Pretty simple.

For the fittings, you can just slip these on by hand and they don’t have to be super secure since there won’t be that much pressure on the system.

Once you have your system set up in the garden, connect your garden hose to the adapter. Remember to point the holes in the pipe down toward the soil. On the end of the garden hose, I put a valve fitting to easily regulate the amount of water flowing through the system. I like to have a slow soaking flow to ensure deeper watering of the soil.

What kind of irrigation systems do you use?


Larry Braley

About Larry Braley

Blessed husband to a wonderful, virtuous woman and father of five, a daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Raised on a midsize farm in the midwest during my childhood and early teen years. Moved away for several years to live the corporate life. Glad to be back in the country raising my family, teaching life skills and developing our mini-farm.
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14 Responses to Homemade PVC Irrigation System

  1. Thanks Larry, Nice article! I built my own irrigation system yesterday similar to yours and succeeded. This morning when I was browsing to find out the hole sizes I should make, I came across your article. Any idea on what size hole I should make?



    • Larry Braley Larry Braley says:

      Hi John, I use a hole size of 3/32. It works really well for me as an all purpose hole size for various plants. Jeff Banks uses a 1/16 hole size with closer hole spacing around certain types of plants. You can check my review of his system in this post. Let me know how it goes.

  2. Sam Regonini says:

    Thanks for the article Larry, really helpful. I just finished setting up this system but the water is coming out of the holes in a steady stream rather than a drip. Any ideas of how to fix that?

    • Larry Braley Larry Braley says:

      Hi Sam, I’m glad you liked the article. I use a simple ball valve connected to the hose end at the inlet of the manifold to control the water flow. This simple solution creates more of a trickle than a drip system, but I’ve found it still works effectively. If you want even less flow, you can use smaller holes, but these can get clogged easier. You can also position PVC valves at various points in the system to regulate different flow rates for different areas.

  3. bobby ranggi says:

    I am testing it now
    thank you so much.

  4. Gary Balcom says:

    Good morning, wondering about that pvc watering system i have about 20 rows of vegatables 80 foot long would like to use some type to irrgation system under black plastic. any ideas or advise would help alot. thanks in advance here we grow again.

  5. Steve Haynes says:


    I have a few questions:

    I was wondering if this was run off of a pump or off of a city water system?

    How many holes total did you have in your system?

    What is the length of a run of pipe, which I think may be the length of your garden?

    Finally, you said you could reconfigure easily. Is the fitup without PVC pipe cement?

    • Larry Braley Larry Braley says:

      Hi Steve. We live in the country and the system runs off our outdoor facet from a well. My beds run 10′ long with 1′ walking paths. So I use 10′ pipe and connect them to cover several beds, generally 2-10’s put together. I put holes about 1′ apart, so about 8 holes per 10′ section, with somewhere around 8 – 10 sections together.

      I don’t use cement as the pressure is lower and they stay together. When I first started, I used threaded connectors, but that proved to be more work than was needed. They stay together quite well as they are with just couplings. This makes it very easy to reconfigure and take down and store for the winter.

  6. Forrest says:

    Does this need to be ran above ground/soil in order to not clog up? I’m getting ready to build my wife a semi-raised cinder block garden bed for vegetables and would like to just run an irrigation system throughout the soil/bed so she can just turn it on and off from the spicket. I already had everything mapped out (in my head) and was looking for hole size and spacing, came across your article and saw where you mentioned the smaller holes can clog up easily. Do you think I could do it your way and then just put a screen mesh around each hole to “filter” the dirt/soil keeping it out of the line and from clogging?

    • Larry Braley Larry Braley says:

      Hi Forrest, I think you have a good plan. I would recommend putting the mesh around the holes to keep them from clogging. I also kept my piping above ground with the holes at a slight angle off the ground so I didn’t have to work with the mesh, but I suspect it should work fine with the mesh. This system has worked really well for me, and it is easy to do and manage. Thanks for stopping by our site.

  7. Griz says:

    Looked at several sites for this type garden watering. Corresponding preferences to your site are your answered questions. Looks as your answers are not quick one liners. I like that.
    My question is the amount of time for watering tomatoes using your system. I currently have six plants and in the ground for six weeks. I will use your system and 3/32 hole dimension. So, how much water on time for a thorough deep root soak?

    • Larry Braley Larry Braley says:

      Hi lift6high, I like to give the plants a good soaking once per week if it has not rained. I do about 45 minutes to an hour to get a really good soaking using enough water flow to have a good full but slow steady stream that comes out of all holes. I don’t like having the water shoot out as it just tends to run off. Slow, steady stream is best. I hope that helps.

  8. Griz says:

    Appreciate you taking the time.
    Thank you very kindly.


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