Installing a Drip Irrigation System in Your Garden
By Donna Boyle Schwartz
Tired of standing next to your planting beds, garden hose in hand? Concerned about getting too much water where you don’t need it and not enough where you do? The solution is simple: install drip irrigation.
Drip irrigation delivers water slowly and steadily to plant roots. It’s a system that, while discouraging the spread of weeds, prevents many of the problems that commonly result from overwatering, including soil erosion and puddling, plant disease and fungus growth.
You also save water; compared to conventional watering, drip irrigation uses 30 percent to 50 percent less. Best of all, drip irrigation means you can stop worrying about remembering to water. Set up your system with an automatic timer, then go out and enjoy your summer!
What you need
- Faucet or valve tap that connects to a water source (e.g., an outdoor faucet or even a rain barrel)
- Pressure regulator to reduce pressure so that water drips rather than sprays
- Backflow preventer to keep water from returning to its source when the irrigation system is turned off
- Filter to prevent dirt or particulates from entering the drip system
- Hose/faucet connector to join the header hose to the water tap
- Header hose or PVC pipe that brings water to the valves and drip hoses in the garden
- Drip tubing or hose to run from the main line to the plants
- Emitters/soaker hoses to deliver water to plants (alternatively, run soaker hoses from the main header hose or PVC pipe)
- End caps to maintain water pressure and keep excess water from leaving the system
- Controller/timer to automate your irrigation system, if desired
How to install
If you wish to install drip irrigation, the first step is to plan out the placement of drip lines. Measure how much tubing you will need for the main header hose as well as for the tubes that will run to the plants.
In addition to tubing, you must also account for the number of emitters and end caps required to achieve your site plan. Depending on what types of plants you have and their respective watering preferences, it may be wise to use different shut-off valves for different sections of your garden.
Most of the components needed to install a drip irrigation system are readily available. There are also many different kits you can purchase. A basic one typically starts around $35 and will cover 25 to 100 linear feet. More elaborate and larger kits can cost up to $300, but given the many benefits of drip irrigation, it’s a small price to pay.
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Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.