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DIY Irrigation Systems to Save Water in The Garden

Sometimes I feel like some of the things our family does would qualify in the list “You might be a ______ if…”; You can fill in the blank…redneck, crazy woman, frugal gardener, whatever. Our diy irrigation system for the garden probably qualifies us as one of those things.

Ensuring that your garden gets adequate water is one of the struggles that many gardeners face. Very few people have time to hand water a large garden during the heat of the summer which is why garden irrigation is so important.

image of milk jug with water hose in it surrounded by squash

There are a lot of ways to set up a garden watering system and the what works for one gardener may not work for another. And what you start with may not be what you keep year after year.

I struggle to keep our garden watered, we don’t have water near the garden so we use water hoses and hand water. We’ve tried using sprinklers and they broke. We also struggle with powdery mildew on our squash plants which is mostly due to the leaves getting wet.

For years, we’ve used a milk jug irrigation system in some of our beds. Basically, we poke holes in milk jugs and bury them. That way when we water we just fill up the jugs – the plants get a deep drink and the leaves stay dry. 

image of garden cage with bean plants and milk jug irrigation system

You can use a nail or a drill with a super small drill bit to make the holes. I like to put two milk jugs in each 4X8 garden bed and cover with mulch. When I water I put the hose in the top  of the milk jug and let it fill up while I harvest or weed. Actually, I let it overflow and really saturate the bed.

These do need to be replaced every year as the plastic will eventually break down, so I pull them at the end of the season and recycle them. This isn’t a perfect system, but it’s free and is a good interim step while you get a more permanent system in place.

image of diy irrigation with milk just and water hose surrounded by squash

DIY Garden Irrigation Systems to Save Water

This is a list of diy garden irrigation systems to help conserve water in the garden. These are all relatively low cost and can be easily made.

Thanks for sharing with your friends!


Monday 19th of April 2021

I am considering using the buried milk jug watering system in my vegetable garden this year - how close to the jugs do the plants need to be to benefit? Would it reach plants that are 2 feet away, or do they need to be closer?

Angi Schneider

Wednesday 21st of April 2021

The plants that are 2 feet away will still get benefits. I use 2 per 4'x8' bed. We've recently changed out the milk jugs for pvc and I actually like it better. The milk jugs are free but they only last one season. The pvc will last for years. We cut the pvc into 15" lengths and drilled holes into the bottom half. We used a zip tie to tie on some landscape fabric to the bottom and then planted them.


Tuesday 26th of November 2019

So many cool ideas. I am learning a lot about these irrigation systems. Thanks! Definitely referring back to the resources later.

Jenn Summers

Saturday 15th of June 2019

This is such a clever idea! I might need to try this in my hard to reach spots of my large flower bed!

Angi Schneider

Sunday 23rd of June 2019

Thanks! It's been super helpful to us.

Trina Welch

Friday 14th of June 2019

This is a fantastic and very cost effective way to water! I love it.

Michelle James

Wednesday 12th of June 2019

This is such a great idea and what a timesaver! Part of my problem with planting is I tend to get lazy by mid summer and don't water enough. Thanks so much for the inspiration!