Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (2023)

SKIP TO HOW-TO

One of the more relaxing chores in the world of gardening is sitting yourself down in a lawn chair, hose in hand, sending a gentle sprinkling of water onto your vegetable beds. That's the kind of lazy, hours long fun you can have when you're retired. But if you aren't? Install a drip irrigation system in your home garden. Right now.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (1)

Hand watering is almost meditative. Unless you're watering more than 4 feet of lawn that is. If you have 1,600 square feet, a self diagnosed hyperactivity disorder, and soil that drains like a gambler's bank account? THEN it just sucks.

So a few years ago I looked into installing a drip system for my vegetable garden.

And then I got overwhelmed and confused and felt like I might stroke out so I continued with hand watering. When I finally got around to installing a drip system I did that thing we all do when we put something off. I swore at myself for not doing it sooner. Big swears too.

It turns out drip systems aren't all that difficult. They just seeeeem difficult to the uninitiated. I ended up emailing the company I buy my row cover from and asked them to help me. They sell all the stuff you need for drip irrigation including entire kits with everything included. I just wasn't sure what size kit I needed or if I needed two of them or if I should just do it without a kit.

So I took a shot, randomly sent them my garden plan and asked for help.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (2)

Within a few days someone from the company sent me back a mock up of my garden with a drip layout, a list of everything I needed to do it and the price it would be ($324 for my entire 40' X 40' plot.)

It took 3 days after work to install (working 2-3 hours each time) and I love it with all of my heart. I big heart love it. I lasagna love it.

What's to love you ask? Here are a few things:

Benefits of Drip Irrigation

  • No waste of water. It goes directly in the ground where you want it, not onto paths, not onto the dense layer of plant leaves and not into the air.
  • You can water and work in your garden at the same time. Try doing that while dodging a sprinkler.
  • Every single inch of your garden is watered. There are no dry or missed corners.
  • Because the water is dripped so slowly it's fully absorbed deeply into the soil with no run off.
  • You can set it to a timer and forget about it.
  • It works especially well with raised beds which dry out more quickly than other types of beds.

So, just like installing LED lighting which you can read about here, drip irrigation can seem a bit YIKES, but once it's explained by someone as stupid as you are, it all makes sense. You just need an equally confused person to explain it to you.

(Video) Installing Drip Irrigation in Vegetable Garden | A Beginners Guide to Drip Irrigation

I am just that person.

Here's a video of the entire drip system after I've installed it so you can make sense of the layout and what it all looks like.

There are 2 types of tubing with drip irrigation: the drip tube (or tape), which has holes in it for dripping water in the beds and the irrigation tubing which is the hose that feeds the drip hose.

  1. Assemble your filter and pressure reducer. (The pressure reducer ensures you always have constant water pressure at 12 psi.) Start your project at the end of your garden that's closest to the water supply.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (3)

These are what the pieces look like unassembled but laid out in order.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (4)

Tape your pipe ends with plumbing tape (provided) and screw everything together. If you're ordering from the place I ordered from (Dubois Agrinovation) you'll get the exact same parts that go together in the exact same order, the exact same way).

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (5)

    2. Attach your assembled filter and pressure reducer to your garden hose. Make sure it is OFF. Then attach the end of your supply hose to the filter.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (6)

3. Run your supply hose to where you want your drip hoses to run. In my case I needed to run 2 supply hoses, one to feed the left side of my garden and one to feed the right side. To run the hose to where you need it you may need to cut the supply hose and attach elbows or tees, like you see below.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (7)

4. Run your supply hose the full length of your garden and attach shut off valves.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (8)

(Video) How to setup Drip Irrigation

5. Cut your drip tape to length and lay them on your garden beds with the holes facing UP. You should have one drip tape per row of plants or approximately 1 drip tape every 12".

*(laying drip tape would be much easier in the spring when the garden isn't full of plants)

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (9)

6. Lay out all of your on/off valves where your drip tape meets your supply line.

*TIP: If you're working alone, lay a rock on one end of the drip tape while you run it to keep it in place.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (10)

If you're working in a garden with plants already, just lay the rock on one end of your drip tape then gently pull the plants up and lay the tape underneath. Then pull the drip line tight and straight.

7. Attach all of your drip tape on/off valves. For me there were 32 of them to fit. Here's how to attach the drip lines to the supply line.

You'll notice there aren't any drip emitters. Each piece of drip tape already has holes in it where the water seeps out.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (11)

8. Before you put the end caps on your drip line you have to purge the system so any dirt that got into the lines gets flushed out. Close the valves at the end of your supply line, make sure all the drip line valves are open and turn the water on. This is your first test run. Wooooo!

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (12)

9. Once you've run the lines long enough for any soil to have been flushed out, turn the water off and attach the end caps to all of your drip lines.

(Video) How To Install A Drip Irrigation System | DIY Drip Irrigation System

10. Smile. Your system is now fully installed.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (13)

The drip system delivers water slowly through holes in the top of the drip tape. The water will spread out and down.

Here's a cross section of the soil after ½ an hour of the drip system running. You can see how far down and wide the water has travelled.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (14)

Still confused? Here it is in a nutshell.

  1. Assemble filter & pressure reducer.
  2. Attach garden hose and drip system supply hose.
  3. Run supply hose along where you want water.
  4. Attach drip tape off of supply hose.
  5. Purge system.
  6. Do a little dance, make a little love.

If you have a normal sized garden and only need 10 rows of drip tape,a kit with everything you need will cost you $155.

But there are kit sizes for every garden if you take a look here.

Installing Drip Irrigation in Your Home Garden. (15)

Installing Drip Irrigation at Home

Installing a drip irrigation isn't nearly as convoluted as it seems. Follow these instructions and you can have it done in hours.

Materials

  • Drip irrigation kit that includes tubing, drip tape, elbows, couplings, filter, pressure regulator etc.
  • Water supply

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Wrench (possibly)

Instructions

  1. Line your filter and pressure reducerup according to the kits instructions or following the photo in this post.
  2. Tape your pipe ends with plumbing tape (provided) and screw everything together. If you’re ordering from the place I ordered from (Dubois Agrinovation) you’ll get the exact same parts that go together in the exact same order, the exact same way).
  3. Attach your assembled filter and pressure reducer to your garden hose. Make sure it is OFF. Then attach the end of your supply hose to the filter.
  4. Run your supply hose to where you want your drip hoses to run. In my case I needed to run 2 supply hoses, one to feed the left side of my garden and one to feed the right side. To run the hose to where you need it you may need to cut the supply hose and attach elbows or tees, like you see in my photos.
  5. Run your supply hose the full length of your garden and attach shut off valves.
  6. Cut your drip tape to length and lay them on your garden beds with the holes facing UP. You should have one drip tape per row of plants or approximately 1 drip tape every 12″.
  7. Lay out all of your on/off valves where your drip tape meets your supply line.
  8. Attach all of your drip tape on off valves. For me there were 32 of them to fit. Here’s how to attach the drip lines to the supply line.
  9. Before you put the end caps on your drip line you have to purge the system so any dirt that got into the lines gets flushed out. Close the valves at the end of your supply line, make sure all the drip line valves are open and turn the water on. This is your first test run. Wooooo!
  10. Once you’ve run the lines long enough for any soil to have been flushed out, turn the water off and attach the end caps to all of your drip lines.
  11. Smile. Your system is now fully installed.

Notes

Quick Guide

  1. Assemble filter & pressure reducer.
  2. Attach garden hose and drip system supply hose.
  3. Run supply hose along where you want water.
  4. Attach drip tape off of supply hose.
  5. Purge system.
  6. Do a little dance, make a little love.

There's only a month or so more of this gardening business left in my part of the world. Once the end of September hits I'll be thinking about ordering firewood, finishing up some canning and practicing some brain exercises so that next year... I'll be better prepared to outsmart a slug.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

How long do you run the system? Drip systems run for anywhere from ½ hour - 2 hours at a time depending on your soil. Different soils need different amounts of water depending on how much they drain.

Do you have to take it all apart in winter? The system can stay put throughout the entire winter. Just drain or blow some of the water out of the lines so they don't freeze and break the tubes. The only thing you need to take apart and bring inside is the filter and pressure gauge.

Will anything on the system break?Over time the drip lines might get accidentally punctured or develop holes that make the water squirt high in the air. This is alarming at first. Don't worry about it. When you get your system you'll get a huge roll of drip line tape so you can easily just replace it by removing the old damaged drip tape and cutting a new length of drip tape and installing it.

(Video) Desert Gardening Basics: How to Install Drip Emitters

Do you still like it? I love it! I love this drip system. I walk into my garden, turn the water on and let it do its thing while I work on other stuff. Seriously. I can't recommend one of these type of systems enough.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

FAQs

How do I install a drip watering system in my garden? ›

You can wrap it around twice to make sure it gets more water than others and if you have a plant

What are the disadvantages of drip irrigation? ›

What are the disadvantages of drip irrigation?
  • High initial investment requirements.
  • Regular capital requirement for replacement of drip irrigation equipment.
  • Drip irrigation emitters are vulnerable to clogging and dysfunction.
  • High skills are required for irrigation and water management.
  • Soil salinity hazard.

How do you run a drip irrigation system at home? ›

Then before you can pop open a cold one and admire your handiwork, your garden will be thanking you for its own liquid refreshment.
  1. Drip Irrigation Overview. ...
  2. Connect to an Outdoor Faucet. ...
  3. Lay out the Tubing. ...
  4. Install Ground Stakes. ...
  5. Lay Tubing Around Shrubs and Trees. ...
  6. Position Sprayers for Ground Cover. ...
  7. Close off the Tubing End.

How often should you run drip irrigation? ›

− Schedule your drip system to run one day a week during April, May, September and October. Run it twice a week from June through August, if required. − Set the run time between 45-60 minutes. After watering, check the soil moisture at the root (least 6 inches deep) and adjust the run time if needed.

Do I need to bury drip irrigation? ›

Drip irrigation can be buried underground or laid on the ground and covered with mulch.

How long should vegetables run drip irrigation? ›

At the height of summer, I usually run my drip irrigation on vegetables for 30 minutes every other day or for 45 minutes every three days. My summer vegetables have done well on both of these regimens in years past. So I recommend to you that you start with a run of 45 minutes, and then watch how the plants respond.

How long does drip irrigation need to run? ›

When a drip system is installed, it should be designed so it has the flexibility to change the amount of emitters and the location of the emitters in the landscape. Each emitter should give you at least a 30-minute run time without runoff. Trees may also need more drip irrigation adjustments as they mature.

How long should you leave drip hose on? ›

Soaker Hose Flow Rate

To give your plants the amount of water they need to stay healthy, you'll need to leave it on for roughly 200 continuous minutes. Or, 2 hours and 20 minutes. This may seem like a long time, but that's the whole idea.

Which irrigation method is the most efficient? ›

Drip irrigation is the most water-efficient way to irrigate many different plantings. It is an ideal way to water in clay soils because the water is applied slowly, allowing the soil to absorb the water and avoid runoff. Drip devices use a fraction of the water that overhead spray devices use.

How many lines are needed per dripper? ›

Try using two drippers per plant positioned at opposite sides of the plant to promote even root growth, and if one dripper gets clogged, the plant will still receive water from the other dripper.

How many drip emitters can you have on one line? ›

That depends on the capacity of your line and the flow rate of each emitter. 1/2" tubing can carry up to 240 GPH, and 3/4" tubing can carry up to 480 GPH. If you are using a 2 GPH emitter, on 1/2" tubing; divide 240 GPH by 2 GPH (240/2), this will give you the total number of emitters that you can use on a line.

What are the pros and cons of drip irrigation? ›

Drip irrigation
ProsCons
Saves water by minimizing evaporationMethod cannot be used with high iron content water because emitters become clogged
Nutrient losses from leaching is reducedMaintenance is required to keep system going
No land grading requiredChewing on tubing from insects and rodents can cause water leaks
1 more row

Can you leave drip irrigation over winter? ›

It's crucial to winterize your drip irrigation system every year before cold weather arrives—ideally at least two to three weeks before the first frost. Otherwise, any water remaining in the system will freeze and expand inside, damaging the tubing, valves, and other accessories.

Can I install my own irrigation system? ›

Installing your own irrigation system is doable if you're willing to put in the time and work required to do it right. It all depends on the size of your yard. You'll definitely work up a sweat digging up trenches and connecting pipes, but all the parts of a sprinkler system are lightweight and easy to install.

How can I water my garden without running water? ›

Drip irrigators and soaker hoses attached to timers are great for veggie and flower gardens. They deposit the water where it's needed most – at the plants' root zones. No evaporation and no mold from wet plant leaves. You can get these at your local garden center.

What time of day is best for drip irrigation? ›

Mornings and evenings are excellent times to water gardens when using a drip irrigation system or soaker hose. Watering in the evening isn't a problem as these methods don't wet plant foliage.

Why is it better to irrigate at night instead of daytime? ›

Night-time temperatures and wind speeds are much lower, which means lower evaporative losses during irrigation. Night-time humidity is higher, which also reduces evaporation. There is no sun, so solar radiation does not contribute to water evaporation.

How much water do tomatoes need drip irrigation? ›

Tomatoes require a single drip line per row, offset about 2 inches from the plant. Flow rates of drip tapes vary. Most growers choose a medium-flow tape, which delivers half a gallon per minute (gpm) per 100 feet.

How deep should a drip irrigation line be? ›

Start by digging trenches from your valves and run them everywhere you plan to lay pipe and/or tubing. PVC pipe needs to be at least 12 inches deep, while the poly tubing used for drip irrigation only needs to be six inches deep.

What is better drip tape or drip line? ›

Drip tape is commonly used in short term crops and lasts between 1 to 5 years (depending on customer care). This is due to the thin wall pipe. Dripline can be used in short or long term crops and will last 10 to 30 years.

How far can you run drip irrigation tubing? ›

This tubing is an essential component in a drip system, but too much of it becomes a maintenance headache. Limit the use of ¼ tubing to no more than 12 inches in length per run. LENGTH OF RUN LIMITS: ½ inch tubing can run up to 200 linear ft. ¼ inch tubing should not exceed 19 ft in length.

What is the best irrigation system for a vegetable garden? ›

The best irrigation system for vegetable garden use, flowers, trees, and other watering tasks is drip irrigation. A garden drip irrigation system saves water, time, and money. A properly installed drip system will run automatically at a specific time of day for a specific amount of time.

Is drip irrigation good for cucumbers? ›

The best method for watering cucurbits is generally drip irrigation, which allows for deep infiltration of water over time.

How much do you water vegetables with drip irrigation? ›

As a general rule, vegetable crops require 1 - 1.5 acre-inches of water per week. When plants are small, aim for the lower end and when they are large, the upper end. Additionally, when it is excessively hot and/or windy, plants may need more than 1.5 inches of water in a week.

Where do you put drip emitters? ›

Placing them evenly will ensure that your plants get the proper amount of water without having areas oversaturated. A good rule of thumb is to place a drip emitter evenly spaced along the plant line and a minimum of six inches from the base of the plant.

How long should you water a vegetable garden with a soaker hose? ›

Perfect Your Timing

Start running your soaker hose about 30 minutes twice a week. After a watering day, check your soil to see if the moisture has penetrated several inches, then adjust accordingly. When you find the magic number for your conditions, use a timer to water the same number of minutes every time.

What size drip emitters should I use? ›

A 1 to 5 foot shrub and small tree less than 15 feet at maturity will initially require two, 1 gph emitters 12 inches from the base of the plant. Change to 2 and then 4 gph higher flow emitters if planting a larger sized tree and as the small tree grows. A 5 foot or larger shrub may require three 1gph emitters.

Is a flat or round soaker hose better? ›

Round soaker hoses are arguably more durable, however, they are often more expensive. Flat soaker hoses are more affordable, however, they can kink easily which affects the flow of water.

What's best time to water garden? ›

Water in the mornings, if you can, as this is when the sun comes up and plants will start to use water. The foliage and soil surface is also likely to stay drier for longer than evening watering, discouraging slugs, snails and mildew diseases.

Should soaker hoses be buried? ›

Do not bury soaker hoses with soil unless they are designed for this purpose or you may clog the pores. If you plan to bury your drip irrigation, ensure that you have the type meant for subsurface installation and that you live in an area free from burrowing pests that may chew on the tubing.

Are drip irrigation kits worth it? ›

At the end of the day, installing a drip water system for your garden is an effective way to create a healthier garden without sacrificing the environment. While it might not be the best fit for every home, it's a great option for smaller gardens and those who want to go the extra mile for water conservation.

How much does it cost to install drip irrigation? ›

A drip irrigation system costs $1.50 to $4.50 per square foot or $300 to $1,200 per zone installed for above ground drip lines. Subsurface drip line installation costs $1,000 to $4,000 per acre on average. DIY drip irrigation kit prices are $15 to $480, depending on the area covered.

Does drip irrigation really work? ›

Unlike other forms of irrigation, such as sprinklers that are only 65-75% efficient, drip irrigation 90% efficient at allowing plants to use the water applied. And, it reduces runoff and evaporation.

What are the two main types of drip irrigation? ›

What are the two main types of drip irrigation?
  • Sub-surface drip irrigation where water is applied below the soil surface through narrow tubes. ...
  • Surface drip irrigation where water is applied directly to the soil surface.

Why do farmers prefer drip irrigation? ›

Drip irrigation is the most efficient water and nutrient delivery system for growing crops. It delivers water and nutrients directly to the plant's roots zone, in the right amounts, at the right time, so each plant gets exactly what it needs, when it needs it, to grow optimally.

What are the four types of drip irrigation? ›

Soaker hose, porous pipe, drip tape, and laser tubing are various adaptations of the “extremely small hole in a pipe” type of drip system. They just have very small holes drilled (usually using a laser) into a tube, or are made from materials that create porous tubing walls that the water can slowly leak out of.

What is advantage and disadvantage of drip irrigation? ›

Advantages: Low costs and operating on very low-pressure systems, such as gravity flow drip systems fed by water from rain barrels. Disadvantages: Clogging up easily and poor water distribution uniformity compared to other emitter types. Tortuous-path or Turbulent-Flow Emitters.

What are the pros and cons of drip irrigation? ›

Drip irrigation
ProsCons
Saves water by minimizing evaporationMethod cannot be used with high iron content water because emitters become clogged
Nutrient losses from leaching is reducedMaintenance is required to keep system going
No land grading requiredChewing on tubing from insects and rodents can cause water leaks
1 more row

What is drip irrigation and its advantages? ›

Unlike other forms of irrigation, such as sprinklers that are only 65-75% efficient, drip irrigation 90% efficient at allowing plants to use the water applied. And, it reduces runoff and evaporation. Drip irrigation applies the water slowly at the plant root zone where it is needed most.

What are the disadvantages of surface irrigation? ›

Disadvantages of graded surface irrigation include: A high degree of management and water control is required to achieve high irrigation efficiencies; High irrigation efficiencies require uniformly graded and shaped land; With moderate to slow infiltration rates, long irrigation times are required.

What are the two main types of drip irrigation? ›

What are the two main types of drip irrigation?
  • Sub-surface drip irrigation where water is applied below the soil surface through narrow tubes. ...
  • Surface drip irrigation where water is applied directly to the soil surface.

What are the four types of drip irrigation? ›

There are four main categories of emitters. Three of these – porous pipe, pre-installed emitter lines, and punch-in emitters – are types of drip irrigation. Micro-irrigation consists of microsprinkler heads that can direct water above the root system.

Why do farmers not use drip irrigation? ›

Because it can be expensive to install and operate, farmers have to determine that increased crop yield and better quality will result in enough of an increase in income to offset the cost of installing and operating an irrigation system.

How do you maintain a drip irrigation system? ›

During the growing season, periodically check and clean (or replace) emitters. Flush the system thoroughly after any main line break to avoid emitter clogging. Clean filters more often if using well or pond water and less often if using city water.

Are drip systems worth it? ›

But are the benefits of drip irrigation worth all the hype? It depends on your situation, but very often the answer is yes. Not only will you save water, but you'll save money, prevent erosion, and discourage disease in your plants. You can fertilize (or fertigate) via your drip system, too.

How much does it cost to install drip irrigation? ›

A drip irrigation system costs $1.50 to $4.50 per square foot or $300 to $1,200 per zone installed for above ground drip lines. Subsurface drip line installation costs $1,000 to $4,000 per acre on average. DIY drip irrigation kit prices are $15 to $480, depending on the area covered.

How many feet can you run drip irrigation? ›

LENGTH OF RUN LIMITS: ½ inch tubing can run up to 200 linear ft. ¼ inch tubing should not exceed 19 ft in length. MAXIMUM FLOW CAPACITY: ½ tubing can handle a maximum of 240 GPH or 4 GPM.

Is drip irrigation easy to install? ›

Overview of the Drip System

Micro irrigation — a network of plastic tubing and low-volume drippers and sprinklers that reach every part of the garden — takes the hassle out of watering. The materials are inexpensive and easy to install using nothing more than a pruning shears and a special hole punch tool.

What is buried drip irrigation? ›

Subsurface drip irrigation is a low-pressure, high efficiency irrigation system that uses buried drip tubes or drip tape to meet crop water needs. Subsurface irrigation saves water and improves yields by eliminating surface water evaporation and reducing the incidence of weeds and disease.

What are the three types of surface irrigation? ›

Surface irrigation systems can be classified into three major types: basin, border, and furrow systems. The basin system consists of level, diked areas that receive undirected flow of water (Figure 1).

What is surface drip irrigation? ›

Drip irrigation is sometimes called trickle irrigation and involves dripping water onto the soil at very low rates (2-20 litres/hour) from a system of small diameter plastic pipes fitted with outlets called emitters or drippers.

Videos

1. Installing a Drip Irrigation System in our Vegetable Garden! (step by step instructions)
(Alana Cawker-the Rustic wife)
2. Irrigation Made Easy: Here's how you install irrigation
(Gardening Australia)
3. How to install home garden drip irrigation
(UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment)
4. How to Install Drip Irrigation System
(Garden Obsessions)
5. Landscape Makeover Part 2 of 4: Installing Drip Irrigation! 🌿💚🙌// Garden Answer
(Garden Answer)
6. How to Install a Drip Irrigation System in Containers // Growing Your Fall Garden #5
(CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Last Updated: 02/03/2023

Views: 5775

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Birthday: 1999-09-15

Address: 8416 Beatty Center, Derekfort, VA 72092-0500

Phone: +6838967160603

Job: Mining Executive

Hobby: Woodworking, Knitting, Fishing, Coffee roasting, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Kite flying

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Refugio Daniel, I am a fine, precious, encouraging, calm, glamorous, vivacious, friendly person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.