Drip irrigation delivers a slow, steady amount of water to plants exactly where it is needed, at the root zone. When you set up a drip irrigation system, it will save both water and money, not to mention the time you'll save by not having to walk around with a watering can or hose. Drip irrigation kits are available for purchase---they can help you learn about all of the parts and pieces without having to design a system from scratch. An even easier way to utilize the benefits of drip irrigation is to use soaker hoses.
Using Drip Irrigation
Plan your drip system before you purchase a kit to determine how large an area you need to cover. You can use drip irrigation to water a small vegetable garden or an entire orchard. Large plants such as trees also need more water than smaller plants, so keep these factors in mind---larger plants need larger emitters, for example, 3 GPH (gallons per hour) as opposed to ½ or 1 gallon per hour emitters for smaller plants.
Purchase the appropriate kit for your needs. (See Resources.)
Lay out the main line down the center of the area you want to water. Then punch holes in the line and attach ¼ inch hose, extending it to each plant you want to water. Insert an emitter at the end of each line or in the middle of the line if you have multiple plants in the same area. Use large emitters for large plants and small emitters for small plants.
Connect a garden hose from the nearest faucet to the beginning of your drip system. Most kits include a backflow preventer and pressure regulator that you attach at the faucet. You might also want to install a timer at the faucet, which will make your watering duties even easier.
Purchase 50-foot soaker hoses if you prefer. You can string up to three soaker hoses together and then snake them through your garden, around all of the plants you want to water.
Run your drip system or soaker hoses every other day for about one hour, depending on the plants' needs and the size of your emitters. For example, large, established trees only need a good watering once a week, but young vegetable plants must get water every day or two.