An Easy Automatic Watering System for Bonsai

Last months article was a challenge I’m sure for many, but hopefully after you’ve built your display benches, your satisfaction for what you’ve accomplished was well worth it. This months article promises not to be as challenging, but also well worth the work involved.

If you’ve been thinking about wanting to set up an automatic watering system, now’s the time, especially if you tried last months project, and thought that this would be a good thing to highlight your new display benches. The work I’ve detailed in this months article doesn’t necessarily have to be for the benches in last months article, although I will be using those benches as the reference pictures. I’m sure the points listed here can be used on any type of display benches with a very little amount of needed changes.

Everything needed can be purchased at Home Depot. If you go to their plumbing dept. you will also see an area for automatic watering systems featuring many different parts used for many different setups. The good thing about their product, is that they also have a free parts catalog that you can take home and study, to see just what system might best fit your needs. Everything is numbered, so once you decide, all you’ll need to do is go and pick out the required numbered items.

Standard PVC pipe will also be used, along with the standard glues used to bond them together.

The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where to run your main watering line. That will be the line that will run from the area near your outside water faucet, to the area near your display benches. You may luck out and not have a very far distance from faucet to benches. I wasn’t so lucky.

The reason I say this is because you will have to dig a small depth trench to bury the PVC pipe from where it starts at the water source, to where it will connect near the display benches.

To get started you will need to map out on the ground where you intend to do the digging.

In the picture below you will see how I ran a string line from the water source up to the benches.

Next, I used some spray paint to follow the line to use as a reference when the digging started.

The two pictures below show the end result of digging the trench and burying the PVC pipe, and how each end looks with the necessary risers for hooking up the water supply with your garden hose. At the riser near the benches I purchased a small 4ft. length of hose to make the connection, while at the faucet, I will simply use my standard garden hose whenever I use my automatic watering system.

This next picture shows the holes needed to prepare for the sprinkler head and the mini tube line that supplies water to the sprinkler head. The holes will be bored with a half inch drill bit.

Looking under the benches, you will see the 1/2 in. supply line with the 1/4 in. mini tube going up into the 1/2 in. hole that you just bored. Each sprinkler head comes with a small length of the 1/4 mini tube supply line already attached, so there is no need to purchase mini tube line separately for this installation.

The other 1/2 in. hole will be used to hold the sprinkler head in place on your display shelf. The picture below shows how I replaced the sprinkler head spike that comes attached to the sprinkler head, with a 5/16 all thread bolt, that slides right through the attached holder as if it were made for it. After that, all that is needed is to screw a nut up from the bottom, and one down from the top of the all thread to secure the sprinkler head to it.

And finally, the completed sprinkler head assembly attached to the display bench shelf ready for use.

The automatic controller can be purchased along with the sprinkler head parts made by the same company, or could be purchased elsewhere. I used one from a previous set up.

Well there you have it, your own automatic watering system ready to go to work for you.

One thing to keep in mind though, is to never let this system replace your usual hand watering ritual. You must continue to spend close up time with your trees each day to make sure all is well with them before a problem gets a foot hold, and causes major damage.

About Thomas J.

I started doing bonsai in 1991 after buying my first Chine Elm from Dallas Bonsai, who at the time was selling trees and supplies at a local mall.

At the time I was mostly interested in deciduous trees but after a few years moved up to working on junipers. My last holdout was the Japanese Black Pine which I began to work with in 2007 after acquiring a specimen from a friend.

I've had a few of my trees published in the "Gold Awarded Penjing of the World". Some call bonsai an art and some call it a craft, but for me it's a little of both with some high anxiety thrown in, at others times a world of peace and beauty right outside my backdoor.

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