How to Install Drip Irrigation


You don't need to spend countless hours hand watering your vegetables, trees, potted plants and ornamentals if you set up a drip irrigation system. The many parts and pieces you might see at your garden supply store can make the task appear difficult or confusing, so maybe you have bypassed the decision to embark on a drip irrigation project. However, the advantages of drip irrigation are so great that it might be time to reconsider setting up a system: it isn't difficult if you use a few simple tips and materials.

Step 1

Measure the area where you want to install your drip system. Be sure to include the length of all rows in your garden and the distance between large plants such as trees. Write down these measurements and take them with you to your garden supply store.

Step 2

Purchase a drip irrigation kit that contains enough materials to service the area you want to irrigate. Keep in mind that small plants need less water than larger plants---if you're planning to irrigate an orchard, for example, purchase a kit with water emitters that deliver at least 3 gallons of water per hour. If you're watering smaller potted plants, emitters that deliver just ½ GPH will suffice.

Step 3

Place the main water line in the center of the area you want to irrigate. The main line is normally ½-inch black plastic tubing.

Step 4

Use your hole punch to make holes in the main line near each plant or group of plants you want to water. Then insert a straight connector piece into each hole and pop on a ¼-inch hose.

Step 5

Cut the hose with garden clippers after you stretch it to your plant or wind it around a group of plants so that it is near their base. Put an end plug into the open, cut end.

Step 6

Cut the ¼-inch hose again at each location you determine you need an emitter. Then insert an emitter of the appropriate size into both ends of your cut hose. Insert an emitter with a higher GPH rate for larger plants and one with a lower GPH for small plants. You can have numerous emitters on each ¼-inch hose.

Step 7

Attach a standard garden hose to a water faucet that is near your drip system, string it to your drip system and then connect the drip system to your hose. Your kit will contain parts such as a pressure regulator and backflow preventer; follow the instructions that came with your kit for correct installation of these parts.

Step 8

Install a garden timer at your faucet connection if you wish. This will make your watering duties even easier because it will go on and off at the times you specify, keeping your plants well watered without additional effort on your part.

Step 9

Run your drip system for about one hour twice each week during warm summer weather. Different plants have different needs, but a good rule is to water your plants when the soil first begins to become dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Drip irrigation kit
  • Drip line hole punch
  • Garden clippers
  • Garden hose
  • Garden timer (optional)


  • This Old House: How to Install Drip Irrigation
  • Saving Water: Soaker Hoses

Who Can Help

  • Drip Depot: Standard Drip Irrigation and Microsprinkler Kit for Landscapes
  • Gardener's Supply Company: Earth Staples
Keywords: drip irrigation, watering methods, garden design

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.