Drip irrigation provides a wonderful way to conserve water. It will benefit your plants, your bank account and the environment. Although installing and operating a drip irrigation system is not terribly complex, careful planning is the key to a well-designed drip irrigation system. Keeping in mind some basic procedures will ensure your drip system will efficiently use the available water and effectively deliver the right amount to each plant at the right time of day.
At DripWorks, we have been constructing, blueprinting and deploying drip irrigation systems for years, sharing our combined knowledge through our drip kits, parts and products. We are happy to provide you with some basic drip irrigation system tips we have learned along the way. Whether you are wondering how to install drip irrigation, the best methods for drip irrigation timer installation or something else, this drip irrigation guide will get you off to a good start.
And, of course, we are always here to offer you personalized service if you need more help or have questions about your project or specific products. Call us toll-free or instant-chat with us. Our knowledgeable staff will be happy to give you advice tailored to your situation.
Make a Sketch of the Area to Be Watered
You might want to make a sketch of the entire area you are planning to irrigate from the water source to the end of the mainline tubing. Try to draw it to scale.
Measure Your Flow
To decide how much of an area your system can water at one time, you’ll need to measure the flow from your outdoor faucet. You can use a 1-gallon water jug or a 5-gallon bucket.
Place the bucket under the faucet and turn on the tap, using your watch to time how long it takes to fill the bucket. If it takes a minute to fill the 5-gallon bucket, the flow is 300 gallons per hour. That is more than ample to maximize the flow in the 1/2-inch mainline tubing used in most residential drip systems.
Having Ample Water Pressure
Water pressure is the force behind the flow. Drip systems run very well on fairly low (30-40 psi) water pressure. If the sinks and showers inside your house run adequately, you’ll be fine. If your water pressure is too high or exceeds what the system can handle, you should use a pressure regulator to bring the pressure down.
Attaching a Timer and Filter
Attaching a battery or solar timer directly onto your faucet will ensure the drip system and the plants will consistently get the right amount of water at a designated time of day (usually early in the morning) for optimum health and production. Just as important, timers will automate the watering process. That will free up your time to go on a vacation, go to work, run errands or do whatever else you want to do. In addition, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to turn the water off.
Many timers are on the market. You can choose anything from a simple model to one with advanced features and functions.
Next and most important, you should attach a home garden filter to the timer. The filter will ensure the small drip orifices in the emitters, sprayers or tubing you’ll be using won’t get clogged.
Connecting, Rolling Out and Mulching over the Tubing
It’s a good idea to warm up the mainline tubing before connecting it to the timer-filter assembly by keeping it inside your home or laying it out in the sun for an hour or so. Consider mulching over the tubing to protect it from the sun and to increase its lifespan. Half-inch diameter drip tubing is quite flexible but should be held down with hold down stakes to keep it exactly where you need it. Once the mainline is installed, it is a good idea to flush it out before installing the emitters or putting the end cap on the end of the line. Turn on the water for a minute or two to remove any debris that may be in the line.
Adding a Backflow Prevention Device
Local codes often require a backflow prevention device on a residential drip system. If you are going to install an inline fertilizer injector in your drip system, there is a chance that while your system is on and the water is running in your home, fertilizer can be siphoned back into your sink or shower. Using a backflow device is one of those safety measures you should consider taking.
Installing the Emitters, Sprayers or Inline Drip Tubing
Using a punch to make holes where you want to insert the dripper or sprayers or adding Soaker Dripline is an easy task if you use a quality punch. We recommend the ultimate punch called the Miracle Punch. If you need to cut the tubing, always use a sharp set of pruners like the Felco #2 pruners. Depending on what you are watering and how waterwise you want to be, there are a wide variety of choices you can find on www.dripworks.com.
Drip irrigation is the most efficient way to irrigate your raised beds, orchard or landscape as well as roses, shrubs, row crops or even containers on a deck or patio. Setting up a system and putting it on a timer eliminates hours of hand watering and weeding because all the water goes directly to the root zone of the plants rather than to the surface of the soil where weeds can pop up. In the end, you’ll feel secure knowing your plants are automatically watered by a quality drip system you set up.
Sketch out your vision. Put your basic irrigation plan on paper with some key measurements of the areas to be watered. Use the flowing free resources found at www.dripworks.com/resources.