How to Lay Out Drip Irrigation Lines


Drip irrigation is a method used to maintain proper watering and feeding of gardens, plants, bushes and trees. Drip irrigation systems are pipes laid out along the perimeter of an area used to deliver water to specific locations; the water is disbursed from holes and drips down into the soil It is often used to eliminate the time required for daily watering. Drip irrigation is less labor intensive than other conventional watering methods. When you are considering using drip irrigation, it is important to understand how to lay out drip irrigation lines in the optimal locations and the proper order--this will ensure your plants get the water they need for their roots.

Step 1

Locate the planting areas. If you have gardens already set up, draw the outline of your property on paper and place the location of the gardens within the outline. Put your house on the property. This will give you an idea of the direction and distance when you lay out drip irrigation lines. If you are setting up new gardens, outline the general area where the garden will be.

Step 2

Plan the route for the main line using the ½-inch tubing. Run the line along the house and sides of the property. Add corners and connectors as needed. Plan the secondary ¼-inch pipe to run from the main line to the individual garden areas. Sketch in these lines with a different color or colors.

Step 3

Set the main line first. Lay the main lines in a snake formation to avoid straight lines and sharp angles. This also allows for expansion and contraction of the lines during seasonal changes. Use the elbows in tight corners. Place a clamp and hair pins for anchors at the beginning of the line, and then every 3 feet along the line. Place the "T" connectors where your secondary lines will be coming from the main trunk. Put the main trunk above bedding fabric and below the mulch so it is out of sight and less prone to being tripped over.

Step 4

Set up the secondary lines. Attach these to the "T" connectors along the main trunk. Set up a valve head at the start of each secondary line to better control where the water goes and when.

Step 5

Set up the emitters at the ends of the lines. Place one emitter over the root balls for new plantings; use two emitters 12 inches from the base of small shrubs and trees; use up to 4 emitters at a 2 foot distance for larger trees and larger shrubs or bushes.

Step 6

Set the 2-by-2 inch square blocks underneath the secondary lines so the water will drip down from the pipe. Set the clamps and hair pins for anchors at the beginning of each secondary line; and then every 3 feet along the line.

Step 7

Connect the faucet to the timer and then the backflow preventer. Connect the garden hose to the other end of the backflow preventer and then to the main line. Add a pressure regulator if the water moves too fast through the lines as this could break the connections.

Things You'll Need

  • ½-inch PVC tubing
  • ¼-inch PVC tubing
  • Connectors and elbows
  • Terminals and end caps
  • Graph paper
  • Colored pencils
  • Hammer
  • Water valve heads
  • Timer
  • Backflow preventer
  • Pressure regulator
  • Garden hose
  • Hair pins
  • Clamps
  • 2-by-2-by-2 inch square blocks


  • -- Drip Irrigation
  • Colorado State University -- General Overview of Drip Irrigation
  • Jess Stryker -- Drip Irrigation Tutorials
Keywords: drip irrigation, lay out irrigation line, drip irrigation system

About this Author

William A. Swan is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management.