Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Poor Man's Sprinkler System

At some time, every serious gardener gets to the point where there are so many plants that watering becomes a dreaded chore.  I'm not one to want to spend all my precious time watering my plants. I'm the Cheapskate and time is money, after all.

To alleviate this, I installed my own custom and low-cost automatic sprinkler system. Here, I present to you, the Poor Man's Automatic Sprinkler system, customizable for any garden.

What I use is a drip irrigation system. It has the benefit of being used as sprinklers or drip and is very stingy with water use. In fact, many jurisdictions (my included) exempt drip irrigation systems from water rationing laws.

I have two distinct growing zones in my backyard and another one in the front yard. In the back, I have a sunny zone (Zone 1) and a shady zone (Zone 2)

This creates a quandary because each zone requires it's own watering schedule. I resolve this with a dual-zone water timer that is attached to the fawcett.

With this, I set a more frequent schedule for the sunny side and a little less for the shady side. I might water for 15 minutes every other day on the sunny side and for 10 minutes every three days on the shady side. I'm able to adjust the schedule very easily when seasons change. There's also a manual button that gives me an immediate 10 minutes of water with one push, and a separate hose connection on the end for manual hose use.

Most of my plants are fine with the sprinkler heads. You can get these in a variety of spray patterns, from 45 degress to 360 degrees. Most of mine are 180 degree (half circle), though I do have some 90 degree heads for corners.

For some of our trees and our hanging baskets, I use drip emitters. You can also get these in a variety of flavors, from half a gallon per hour up to 5 gallons per hour.

There are specialized hoses that you can get for this but I find that a cheap garden hose works just as well. I buy one on sale, use the hole-poking tool that you get with the drip kit, poke a hole in the hose, and insert either the sprinkler or emitter. You can also see that you can get stakes to hold your watering devices into the spot you want.

In the front rose garden, I use this old Melnor rotary timer. Does everything the other one does but you use a dial to set it instead. It is very sturdy and reliable...of course, that means they don't make them anymore.

Maintaining the system is a piece of cake. Watch occasionally for blocked sprinkler or emitters, clear them out with a nail or needle if they do get blocked. About two times a year, I need to change the batteries in the timers. Total cost of my system, including timers, about $70. So far, it has lasted a decade and I never worry about watering my plants again.

UPDATE: I forgot to put in a link to the drip irrigation starter kit, click below for an easy-to-set-up system to start with.


Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved


  1. Nice snaps and explanation about sprinkler system. i think your blog will inspire for those person cannot purchase high cost sprinkler system. If any problem occurs then you can call expert for sprinkler system repair.

  2. That's amazing and really inspiring. We have 23 sprinkler stations on our property and something is always going wrong somewhere. Moreover, it's a challenge when we add a new bed or section. It's nice to find good ideas for some self sufficiency in this area.