Setting up a drip system is easier and more fun than you think. Drip irrigation has become the preferred method of watering for homeowners with vegetable gardens, landscape, orchards, and decks. Farmers large and small depend on drip irrigation to stretch their water supply and produce high yield, top quality crops.
For homeowners, the most common place to start a drip system is at the faucet or spigot. To make an effective drip system (one that saves you water, time, and money), we advise our customers to automate their system with a battery timer. These hose threaded timers are easy to install onto the faucet and simple to program, freeing you from having to remember to turn the water on regularly. If you wish, you can place a Hose Y on your faucet and run the drip irrigation off one side while keeping the other side open.
If you're using a fertilizer injector, a backflow prevention device is a must. Local codes usually require this type of device to protect contamination of both your personal water supply and any municipal water supply to which you are connected.
The next, and possibly most important part of a drip system to install, is the water filter. Filters protect your system by removing sediment and other particles large enough to clog its emitters. Hose threaded models install directly onto your timer or faucet.
Drip Systems operate best at an average water pressure of 30 PSI. City water pressure often comes to your house at a much higher pressure, requiring a pressure regulator on your system. These pressure regulators are manufactured with preset values that will reduce incoming water pressure to match the needs of your system. For example, drip tape, which works best for long, straight, flat rows, operates at extremely low pressures, while landscape sprinklers require a much higher pressure.
DripWorks recommends using Easy Loc Fittings when setting up your drip system. These fittings hold very well under normal operating conditions, are easy to install or remove, and can be reused time and again. Other types of fittings that are sometimes used are compression and barbed fittings. Barbed fittings require the use of metal hose clamps and compression fittings can leak and are difficult to remove and reuse.
Once your timer, filter, regulator, and hose start are installed, you can connect a length of mainline tubing to carry the water to your planting area. Holes can be punched and emitters inserted wherever needed or this tubing can be branched with tees to supply water to other planting areas.
Below are some of the more popular drip irrigation products to water your plants.
Pressure Compensating (PC) Emitters: These emitters distribute water equally throughout the whole system regardless of elevation changes. PC products are available as drippers, sprayers, or sprinklers. If you have changes in elevation and want the same flow everywhere, use PC emitters.
Basic Drip Emitters: The flow from these emitters will vary depending on water pressure. If you go uphill or downhill, the flow can vary greatly, which is why this type of emitter is best for individual plantings and smaller systems.
Emitter Tubing: This ½" tubing has factory installed pressure compensating emitters inserted at regular intervals from 9" to 36" and with flow rates of 1/2 or 1 gallon per hour. This extremely versatile product can be used for larger planting areas where you want the same flow everywhere regardless of changes in terrain. Due to its durability, this product is often used in permanent landscaping situations, around trees in orchards, or on hilly terrain requiring pressure compensation.
Soaker Dripline: This flexible, easy to use ¼" diameter tubing has factory installed emitters inserted every 6", 9", or 12". It comes in spools from 50' to 1000' and works down to a very low 2 PSI. Though not pressure compensating, this product is great for raised garden beds, border gardens, containers, and low pressure gravity-fed systems.
Drip Tape: Drip tape allows farmers and backyard gardeners to water long runs of row crops uniformly and efficiently. To water row crops at low cost, drip tape is the choice.
If you're looking for a quick and easy introduction to drip irrigation, DripWorks offers several complete drip irrigation kits. For ideas on designing a drip irrigation system, visit our Gallery of Plans.