Sprinkler to Drip Irrigation Conversion Guide

Why Convert to Drip Irrigation?

  • Replace water demanding lawns with native, drought tolerant plants.
  • Replace lawns with food producing plants.
  • To conserve water. Drip irrigation uses approximately 70% less water than conventional sprinkler systems. Drip irrigation also delivers water directly to the root zone, minimizing evaporation, weed growth and plant disease.
  • Drip systems are much easier to install and maintain than conventional sprinkler systems.

Things to Consider

  • Do you have adequate filtration?
    Due to the small orifices and pathways in drip emitters, there needs to be a filter installed on the irrigation system to prevent the emitters from clogging. If the water is relatively clean (city water or a clean well) a simple screen washer or can be installed on each riser. If the water is not relatively clean (surface water or runoff), then a larger filter should be installed on the main supply line.
  • How many sprinkler risers need to be converted?
    If the area to be converted to drip irrigation is small, only one riser may be needed. If the area is large, or has diverse watering needs, multiple risers may be needed. Any risers that will not be used can be sealed off with a threaded cap.

How to Convert a Sprinkler Riser to Drip Irrigation

Connecting a drip irrigation system to an existing sprinkler riser is quite simple and increasingly common as people become more water conscious. Follow these simple steps to convert your sprinkler system to water-saving drip irrigation.

  • Make sure the sprinkler system is turned off.
  • Remove the sprinkler head and/or sprinkler support to expose the sprinkler riser. This may require digging if the risers are buried. If the riser is buried below ground level, a threaded nipple and coupler may be needed to bring it up to the surface. The riser should be either 1/2" or 3/4" male pipe thread (MPT).
  • Connect the sprinkler to drip conversion fitting to the exposed riser. Each conversion fitting has a specialized use, choose the conversion fitting that best meets your needs. All of the conversion fittings have a 1/2" female pipe thread (FPT) inlet for connecting directly to a 1/2" MPT riser. If your riser is 3/4", a threaded reducing coupler and 1/2" nipple can be used to convert the riser to 1/2" MPT.
  • The conversion fitting will either adapt your riser directly to poly tubing or to male hose threads (like a faucet). Then the drip system is ready to install!
  • Cap off all of the un-used risers in that watering zone.
  • Adjust the watering times on your controller. Drip systems emit water at a slower rate and operate for slightly longer lengths of time.