fter tripling the size of my garden from 8 foot square last year to 8′x24′, I extended my single 50′ soaker hose to three 50′ soaker hoses connected end-to-end to support the larger garden however, the hose became quite unwieldy. Having to straighten out the entire 150′ of soaker hose was becoming a nightmare with the whole hose moving when small sections needed to be rearranged knocking over plants in the process. I will detail the steps I took to remedy the situation by building a hose manifold from common parts found at the local hardware store to create a number of short runs of hose that are much easier to manage and control.
My design for the solution was to create a manifold at one of the 8′ ends of the garden fed by the garden hose, and split the soaker hose into 24′ lengths that would run from one end of the garden to the other. Since I had a total of 150′ of garden hose, that would make a total of 6 lengths of soaker with a little extra on each end. I planned on planting the rows of crops width-wise along the garden which made this layout ideal. In addition, I wanted to be able to control the water flow in each of the runs individually, so valves were needed on each manifold output.
I decided to use PVC pipe and fittings for this project. I had done some home pluming in the past, and found PVC easy to work with, lightweight, and low cost. The manifold sets on top of the garden and will be put away in the shed for the winter time once the garden is hibernating so i used the white indoor PVC as opposed to the more expensive outdoor gray PVC.
I used the following parts for this project. You can add or subtract parts for larger or smaller manifolds:
- (1) 8′ 1/2″ PVC pipe
- (6) 1/2″ PVC T fittings
- (6) 1/2″ PVC Ball Valves
- (7) 1/2″ PVC Threaded nipple connectors
- (7) 1/2″ PVC Threaded barb connector
- (7) hose clamps
- (1) PVC end cap
- (3) 50′ rolls of soaker hose
- (2) universal hose male end repair kit
- (1) 1′ piece of garden hose with a female connector attached to one end
And the tools needed:
- Hack Saw
- Small square of sandpaper
- Slotted screwdriver
- PVC purple cleaner
- PVC cement
Begin by cutting the PVC pipe. My garden is 8′ (96″) deep, and I wanted the soaker hoses to be spread out evenly across this total dimension, and I wanted to leave about 6″ of room for the hose connection in the front of the garden. Doing some math, 96″-6″ = 90″ total length. I want to have 6 rows and each PVC T connector eats up about 1″ so subtract another 1″x6 or 6″-> 90″-6″=84″. Dividing that total by 6 is 14.0″.
Using the hack saw, cut 5 (even though there will be 6 runs, the length will not include the end cap piece, so we use 5) pieces of PVC 14.0″ long and set those aside. These will be used to connect each of the runs together. Now cut 14 pieces of PVC pipe 1″ long. These will be used to connect 1) the T connectors to the ball valves, 2) the ball valves to the PVC threaded nipple connectors 3) the last T connector to the end cap 4) and the input line PVC threaded nipple connector.
Using the sandpaper, sand the inside and outside of all of the PVC cuts so that there are no burrs or hanging pieces of cut PVC. The end cuts do not have to be sanded flat or even cut straight, as long as the T’s, end caps, and threaded connectors will cover any angle that may have been introduced by making crooked cuts!
Now crack open the PVC pipe cleaner and clean the outside of all pieces of pipe and the inside of all Ts, ball valves, and threaded connectors and the end cap. Do not use the cleaner on the threads. I prefer to use the purple cleaner since it gives a visual indication as to what has and has not been cleaned.
Attach the pieces together using the diagram below and the PVC cement. Spread the glue all around the outside of the pipe, and the inside of the fittings. Push the pipe into the fittings and give it slight twist back and forth as you push them together. This will allow the glue to setup and take hold. Once the pipe has been pushed in, hold it in for about 10 seconds to give the glue time to dry. The pieces will have a tendency to push apart, so some pressure should be added to hold them together while waiting for them to dry.
Now screw the barb fittings into the nipple fittings and tighten with a wrench.
Cut each soaker hose in half and remove the female ends from the soaker hose as these will not be needed. Leave the male end as is and keep the hose end cap on the male end. Place a hose clamp over the raw end of the soaker hose and push the hose over the barb connector. Tighten the hose clamp around the hose and barb connector. Repeat this for each of the soaker runs.
Replace the male hose connector on the soaker hoses that have no ends opposite the manifold using the universal repair kits. You should not need one for all of the ends since the soaker hose factory ends should still be on three of the sections. Place a hose cap on these newly installed ends.
Next place a hose clamp on the garden hose piece and push the garden hose onto the input barb connector and tighten the hose clamp with a screwdriver.
That’s it! Hook it up to your garden hose and turn the water on and check for leaks.
Now you have the ability to control how much each row in your garden gets watered. By shutting valves where less water is needed, and opening valves where more is needed, you can have more control over the amount of water that your garden is getting. In addition, the shorter lengths of soaker hose are much more manageable within the garden.