How to automate a garden irrigation system

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Project Overview

Automating your irrigation system is ideal if you have a big garden or specific plants that have their own watering needs. We’ll show you how to run different lines through your garden so you can control how long, and how often, parts of your garden are watered.

Continue to Step-by-step instructions.
This D.I.Y. Advice is part of a series How To Install Sprayers and Drippers
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Quick Tip

When connecting poly pipe for irrigation projects, like installing pop-up sprinklers or water features, soak your pipe ends in hot water. This will soften them and let you mould the ends to suit the fittings that join the pipes together.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Position your weatherproof box
2 Connect the transformer to the system controller
3 Strip your red wiring
4 Wire up your system
5 Attach your controller to the weatherproof box and mount
6 Lay down your cable in the garden
7 Attach the wires to the solenoids
8 Bury the cable and set the programs
  • Step 1. Position your weatherproof box

    Find the right position for your weatherproof box such as the side of your house, a gate or a fence. Make sure that the location of the box is near a power point. Drill in screws for the box to sit on. You’ll need to make sure the nut that comes with the box is inserted at the base. This is where you will feed the wires through. 

  • Step 2. Connect the transformer to the system controller

    It’s easier if you take the box back down to install the system. A transformer will take your power from 240v down to 24v, which is what the solenoid valves the system runs 
  • Step 3. Strip your red wiring

    To connect your watering system you’ll need to use the red cable, which can be buried into your garden. Red cable contains seven core wires inside it.  Thread the cable into the control box and strip it down using wire cutters to expose the cores.

    Feed the transformer wires through the hole in the box and connect them to the first two controller panels inside the box. Make sure you have clean wire touching the controller terminal and then fix the wire down with a screw.

  • Step 4. Wire up your system

    Within the red cable, choose which coloured wires will be your active wire and which will be the common wires. Common wire is what brings power to the whole system, and active wire is what activates each of the solenoids, or programs, you want to use. Fix two common wires to the common terminal, screwing them down as before. Then screw down the other active wires into the active terminal positions.

  • Step 5. Attach your controller to the weatherproof box and mount

    Put a screw into the back of the weatherproof box to hang the controller. The controller should simply slide onto the screw and lock in place. Tighten the nut at the bottom of the box to prevent any water getting into the box. Then you can re-attach the box onto your wall or fence.

  • Step 6. Lay down your cable in the garden

    Before you start, make sure that the power isn’t plugged into your system yet. Run the red cable through your garden to where the solenoids are. Leave a little slack in the wire so that when you bury it, it can be pulled tightly.

  • Step 7. Attach the wires to the solenoids

    Strip the red cable to expose the wires and thread them underneath the irrigation box (Refer to the video How to install irrigation solenoids

    ). Connect the common wires to the back of the solenoid, and the active wires to the front of the solenoid using gel cap connectors so water doesn’t get into them.

  • Step 8. Bury the cable and set the programs

    Now that the controllers are all hooked up, all you have to do is bury the cord in your garden. You’re then ready to set the programs to water your garden.

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Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions which came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings team member.

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