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I built raised gardens this year and added cheap DIY PVC irrigation. I used a 1/16" drill bit and drilled several holes in 1/2" PVC pipe. The 1/16" drill bit was the smallest I had but the holes were still too big for the misting action I was going for; the water comes out in streams and pools in the low spots of the soil.

I am looking for ideas on how I can get more of a "misting" action. My ideas:

  • drill smaller holes: problem with this is that 1/16" is my smallest bit, I would have to buy specialty "micro" drill bits plus a special chuck and/or Dremel to use them
  • drill more holes: I currently have pairs of holes every 9" or so; I could turn the PVC into swiss cheese and put holes every 1/2" or so; I can't really go back once I take the plunge, though
  • use duct tape: the answer for everything! I could tape over the existing holes with duct tape and use a needle to poke pinholes in the tape; this seems like it would work but might not hold up well

Any thoughts?

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I like the duct tape option. You should try that and see if you get the misting action you desire. Let us know because I'm really curious if that would work. –  Ghost Jun 28 '12 at 17:15
For ~$40.00 you could get a Portable Misting Tower. –  Tester101 Jun 28 '12 at 17:35
electrical tape might be a better option than the duct tape. –  DA01 Jun 28 '12 at 18:38
You really don't want misting. Misting makes the water evaporate faster and could get water onto the plant leaves and stems which could promote disease. You want your irrigation to slowly saturate the soil so the roots can drink it up. Just get some drip emitter line. They don't clog and deliver water very slowly so you won't waste as much due to gravity or evaporation as you will with your home brew solution. It's not very expensive either. –  OrganicLawnDIY Dec 14 '13 at 18:40

7 Answers 7

Your best bet would be to get some 1/2" PVC Couplings with threaded port

enter image description here

and some Misting Nozzles.

enter image description here

You should be able to find them both online, or at your local landscaping/gardening center. This setup would allow you to get the desired spray pattern, by selecting the appropriate nozzles.

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+1 That is a good long term solution, but I would need over $100 worth of that equipment. I have about $15 in materials invested so far. I think I'd like to explore other options first. Great links, by the way. Much better than the limited options I was finding on other sites (Home Depot, Amazon, etc.) –  mwolfe02 Jun 28 '12 at 15:23
@mwolfe02 I don't think you are going to get what you are looking for by simply drilling holes, you need some type of nozzle to shape and direct the spray. The only option I can think of where holes might work, is if you bury the pipe and let the water seep into the soil. –  Tester101 Jun 28 '12 at 15:35
These products are intended for the exact opposite of irrigation as they are designed to make as much of the water evaporate as possible by making the water drops very very small and maximize the surface area. For irrigation you want to deliver as much water to the plants as you can and minimize the water loss due to evaporation. –  Philip Ngai Jun 28 '12 at 20:49
@PhilipNgai The nice thing about a setup like this, is that you can easily change the nozzles to achieve the desired watering pattern. –  Tester101 Jun 29 '12 at 11:44
Drill and tap your PVC then you only have to get the misting nozzles. Still some investment, but not as much. –  Freiheit Aug 9 '12 at 14:56

I haven't tried this, so no idea if it'd work, but one thought would be to find a needle and a torch. Get the needle as hot as you can and then poke it into the PVC to melt a tiny hole.

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+1: Exactly what I was thinking. You'll probably want to ensure good ventilation though. Melted PVC fumes (Hydrogen chloride) is not good for you. ;) –  techie007 Jul 2 '12 at 15:55
and a side of dioxin, yummy! –  Mazura Jul 7 '14 at 13:05

You have two choices depending on whether you have continuous areas of plants to water or discrete plants to water.

For the latter, you would use drip emitters, bubblers or misters like these:


all depending on your desired flow rate.

For continuous plants, dripline is good:


BTW, there is a time and place for DIY. In this case I regard it as re-inventing the wheel with little chance of generating much value. Precisely sized nozzles for uniform water distribution is, as you have found, a challenge to create at home.

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check out slide 14 for an emitter design netafimusa.com/files/literature/landscape/dripperline/… –  Philip Ngai Jun 28 '12 at 21:02

Although I'm not convinced a round hole of any size will give you the misting mattern you are looking for, micro-sized drill bits and an accompanying hand tool (pin-vise) are actually not that expensive, and will last you a long time (if not abused ;) ).

For ~$20 you can get a pin-vise and micro bits from many hobby shops (real or on-line).

Hobby Pin-vise and Bits

Alternatively, another (often cheaper) version of this is a drill-style welding tip cleaner:

Welding Tip Cleaner

They are REALLY good bits (they have to stand up to drilling carbon deposits out of the welding tips) and when sharp will go though PVC very easily. So easily that using a moto-tool (like a Dremel) may actually make the job more complicated and take longer in the end.

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A slightly more robust version of your duct-tape solution might be to drill larger holes, then use a hot glue gun and a needle to form permanent tiny nozzles in place.

Edited to add: the way I'd envision this working would be to ensure that you have a slight "mushroom cap" of solidified glue on each side to keep it in place, trying to make a thinner membrane of glue in the middle so that you can poke it through without too much effort -- you might have some luck poking the glue with the rounded end of a normal pencil or something similarly shaped while it's cooling, to spread it out and thin the middle, ending up with something like:

       __   __
______|_ \_/ _|_____
________| _ |_______  <-- pipe wall
      |__/ \__|
       |_ glue
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Can you expand on this a bit? I would think there wouldn't be enough hot glue to PVC contact area. I imagine the water pressure would blow out the dab of hot glue rather than squeeze through the pin hole. Or am I not understanding? –  mwolfe02 Jun 28 '12 at 17:16
Just to be clear...I appreciate your answer. This is the sort of out of the box thinking I was hoping to generate with this question. –  mwolfe02 Jun 28 '12 at 17:17
Hopefully that edit should make it a bit clearer - but I should emphasise, I haven't tried this. –  Aesin Jun 28 '12 at 17:40
+1 I've never tried binding hot glue to PVC myself, but this is certainly an interesting idea. Thanks! –  mwolfe02 Jun 28 '12 at 17:57

What about a small slit cut horizontally with a Dremel tool cut-off wheel? This would create a fan shaped spray instead of a stream.

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That's an interesting idea... –  mwolfe02 Jun 14 '13 at 13:15

Instead of tape with an adhesive, use self-healing tape if your holes are too big. Then you can make a pinhole in the tape. Tape is available at Radio Shack but maybe others places also.

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