Drip Irrigation for Vegetables

Updated: Apr. 23, 2023

Learn how to get stress-free vegetable garden irrigation.

Automatic drip watering system

The setup is easy to install and costs less than $50.

Raised-bed vegetable garden

This raised-bed vegetable garden is watered automatically every three days by a drip watering system.

Close-up of emitters in drip watering system

Emitters installed every 12 in. or so provide even watering.

I have a little, 4 x 16-ft. raised-bed vegetable garden and a couple of big containers for veggies (top-left photo). Unfortunately, I’m often out of town (camping trips, mostly) and have had a hard time keeping up with watering. I needed some backyard irrigation. So I built this automatic drip watering system. It was simplicity itself. All the parts are off-the-shelf from a home center, and cost less than $50. I made a grid of brown supply pipe, the pipes about 8 in. apart (top-right photo) and attached a hose fitting. I put emitters (the round black parts in the bottom photo) every foot or so to give the whole bed a nice, even watering. If you’ve never used this type of drip irrigation system, you’ll find a small tool, sold with the emitters, that punctures a hole in the plastic pipe. Then the emitters just push into the holes. That’s it.

For the containers in front of the bed (you can see them clearly in the top photo), I attached a ¼-in. line with built-in emitters, which coils around the top of each container. It goes in just like a single emitter. A simple battery-powered timer turns the system on every three days for a thorough soaking. The most time-consuming part was installing an outdoor faucet to provide water for the backyard irrigation system.

I’ve used this rig for five years now, and it works amazingly well. With a little mulch to keep the weeds down, I can go away for two weeks or more without the need to water. In the winter, I blow the system out with compressed air and hang it on the side of my garage. Now if I could just rig up an automatic harvester…

— Ken Collier, Editor in Chief