Gardening isn’t always inexpensive or cheap, in fact, it can be quite a costly endeavor, particularly if all your plants die halfway through the season due to lack of water or because they are choked out by weeds you didn’t have time to pluck. Here’s how we installed our own homemade automatic self- watering & weed free, no maintenance vegetable garden . . .
While the initial set-up does take a few dollars, this system can be used year after year without any issues what-so-ever.
PVC Pipe (the lengths are completely dependent on your garden size)
1 Metal Stake Fence post per Sprinkler head
PVC 90 corner (1for each sprinkler head)
PVC Threaded Reducer (Female)
PVC Primer & Glue (Purple & Orange Stuff)
Automatic Timer (such as orbit)
Spigot (aka Faucet) for lowest corner, drainage
The orange star in the image above represents the timer connected to the hose/water source. The solid lines are PVC pipes, the stars are sprinkler heads and the circled star is a spigot at the bottom of the pvc pipe. This is placed at the lowest point in your watering system for easy drainage during the fall and winter months.
How we did it:
Till the garden area. Once it’s completely tilled and fairly level, layout the pvc pipes. Dig trenches about a foot deep to bury the pvc pipes in the layout you created. We used 2 (two)- 16′ PVC (below ground) & 1- 8′ pvc (cut in half) below ground as well as 6- 8′ PVC (Above Ground). 3/4″ PVC Pipes run about $2.25 each
Attach the sprinkler heads to each of the 8′ PVC pipes using the primer and glue, in our case we used 6 sprinkler heads. You May need More or less depending on the overall size of your own garden.
As you can see from the photo above, we added pvc “corners” to the sprinkler head. This is so you can add a threaded reducer to screw the sprinkler head into.
Glue the pipes together and place them in the trenches. Secure the sprinkler head above ground pipes with a fence post or stake. (Zip ties work great!) Be sure to include a Spigot at the lowest corner of the garden, this will make it much easier to drain the pipes in the winter and prevent broken/frozen pipes. Fill in the trenches, burying the water pipes 12″-18″ inches in the ground. We buried them this deep so that we can till the garden later on without worrying about hitting the pipes.
Gently mound up the soil over in rows with an area of 18-24″ across. Mounding the soil is great for drought stricken areas as it allows the garden to catch as much water as possible, the water gets to the roots of the plants quickly, ensuring deeper root growth & heartier plants.
Cover each mound with landscaping fabric, newspaper layers (place a layer of black & white newsprint only, spritz it with water, add a second layer, spritz with water, Repeat), or an old sheet that you no longer want. Basically, use what you have available! Your goal is to block out weeds and help keep the ground moist so that your seedlings will grow well. As you can see here, this is an old dust-ruffle that was no longer needed or useful.
Generously cover the mounds with wheat straw. Again- this helps keep the moisture in the plants and ground and prevent seedlings from drying out and dying. It also works well to help spot snakes so you can avoid stepping on them! This also helps the fruit of the plant from dragging on the ground and rotting before you have a chance to harvest it.
Cut a small “X” into the fabric on the mound to plant your seedlings at their recommending spacings. Above is a row of Jalapeno pepper seedlings we started indoors a couple weeks ago.
Plant the seedling, fill in the hole, and spread the straw around it to protect it.
Set the timer for however long you need the garden watered daily! Now, walk away, you’ve just created a hands free, weed free, no hassle garden that will produce all summer long.
We’ll add more photos as the year progresses, but feel free to check out our previous mound gardens:
- Adventures in Mound Gardening
- See Also Tipsy Gardening
- Companion Planting- learn which plants to plant together for natural symbiosis and avoid common pests/bug infestations
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Smileus