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How to Set Up a Drip Irrigation System

By Barbara Fahs ; Updated September 21, 2017

Drip irrigation is a smart, water efficient way to keep your vegetable garden, potted plants and even trees looking their best. You can keep it simple or install fancy little implements such as sprinklers for your drip irrigation system, but whatever way you decide to set it up, you will help your plants by delivering water at their base, exactly where they need it, in quantities that are appropriate for the plant. You can hook up your system to a timer—then afterward, all you have to do is relax in a chaise lounge with a frosty beverage and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Setting up a Drip System

Start your drip irrigation project with a kit if you are intimidated by all of the hoses, connectors, emitters and other pieces that you might need to set up a system from scratch.

Determine the number of square feet you want to water, then purchase a drip kit that will accommodate the size. If you start small and keep it simple, you can set up a basic drip system in no time.

Lay your main hose throughout your garden area, keeping it close to the base of your plants. Secure it to the ground with stakes if it pops up and doesn’t lie flat.

Connect the vacuum breaker along with the pressure regulator to a faucet. You can use a regular garden hose instead of the ½ inch black drip hose if the distance from your faucet to the beginning of your drip system in the garden is somewhat long.

Punch holes and insert emitters at the base of each plant you want to water. Emitters are available in different gallon-per-hour sizes: For most vegetable plants, use one-gallon-per-hour emitters and then run your system for one hour each week.

Connect a timer to your hose if you want your system to run automatically.

Use soaker hoses if you want to simplify your drip system even further: Simply purchase soaker hoses at your nursery and then “snake” them throughout your garden so they reach all planted areas. You will be using more water with soaker hoses and will water areas such as paths, but it is a simple method of automating your watering chores.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Drip irrigation kit
  • Hole punch for drip lines
  • Garden hose
  • Water
  • Soaker hose(s) (optional)

Tip

  • In general, give vegetables one inch of water each week---but this might vary for different situations. The specific amount of water you give your plants depends on the type of plant and your soil. For example, sandy soil does not hold water as well as clay or loamy soils, so you must run your drip system more frequently (perhaps two to three times per week) if you have sandy soil. Large trees need less frequent, deep watering.

About the 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 and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.