Project Guide

How to Install Drip Irrigation

Difficulty: BeginnerTime: Over 6 Hours Print

Lawns and gardens need a consistent, reliable source of water. Watering your property with a hose isn’t always the best way to make that happen. Most landscape experts recommend drip irrigation instead. So, what is drip irrigation? It is an efficient, permanent irrigation system. Drip irrigation works by applying water slowly and directly to the soil and plants. It is a much more productive way to water plants than a sprinkler system. It is also easier to design and install. Read on for the helpful infomation in this step-by-step guide.

1. Lay Out Irrigation Grid

Drip irrigation prevents overwatering. The system consists of interconnected drip irrigation tools such as emitters, hoses and valves. An emitter will consistently provide water to a plant’s roots. Laying these tools out correctly will give the best results.

Your grid plan will consist primarily of hoses and emitters. A drip irrigation diagram or grid can help. Here are a few steps to help you plan the grid before you install.

  • Plan out where the hoses will go.
  • Mark all plants that will need to be watered.
  • Each plant should have its own emitter or drip. Note how far apart the plants are. This will determine how long the hoses will need to be.
  • Each hose will be attached to the water source through a network of drip irrigation lines. These lines will run from the main hose to your plants.

Tip: Place emitters every 12 inches apart in sandy soil, 18 inches in loamy soil and 24 inches in clay soil.

2. Assemble the Hoses

Drip irrigation tubing are 1/4-inch and 1/8-inch plastic hoses. They make up the bulk of a drip irrigation system. Assembling the hoses properly is key to a properly running system. Here’s how to assemble them:

  • Install a backflow preventer valve to the outdoor faucet. This will keep groundwater from backing up into your drinking water.
  • Attach a hose adapter to fit the diameter of the system’s main line.
  • Connect the system’s main line to the backflow preventer and run it to the garden.

3. Install Tees for Branch Lines

Tee branch lines installed on top of mulch.

Your hoses have been assembled. Now it’s time to install tees. Tees connect your hoses and direct how lines branch off. They help make your drip irrigation system work across landscapes, up hills and around corners. Here are the two easy steps to install these parts:

  • Place a tee in the line for each branch line.
  • Secure with band clamps.
  • Cut lengths of line long enough to extend through the garden to each tee.

4. Install Emitters and Feeder Lines

Someone using an emitter tool to punch holes in irrigation hose.

Knowing how to install a drip irrigation system is the most efficient way to water your garden. The last step in drip irrigation installation is putting in emitter and feeder lines. Once you do this, your drip irrigation system will be ready. Here’s the step-by-step process:

  • Punch holes in the line for all drip irrigation emitters with an emitter tool. Place emitters in the desired locations next to plants.
  • Selected plants should not be more than 1 foot away from the line. Cut an appropriate length of 1/8-inch emitter tubing. Attach the feeder line to the emitter on the branch line. Attach an emitter to the end of the feeder line.
  • Plug the ends of the individual lines with caps and secure with band clamps.

Tip: Flush the system every four to six months by removing the end caps and turning on the water, allowing it to run until the water flows clear.

Knowing how to install drip irrigation around your home makes for a simple DIY project. You can get your garden, lawn and even balcony plantings in tip-top shape. Learning how to install a drip irrigation system is even easier with drip irrigation kits. They’re budget-friendly, and assembly is straightforward. Nevertheless, installing a drip irrigation system from scratch can be done in as little as a day. Very few tools are required. You don’t need years of landscaping experience either. Just follow these drip irrigation basics to learn how to install a drip irrigation system like a pro. First, lay out the irrigation grid and install the hoses. Attach branch lines, emitters and feeder lines.

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