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How to Set Up a Drip Irrigation System for a Vegetable Garden

By Sarah Terry ; Updated September 21, 2017

Drip irrigation is an efficient watering system, boasting 90 percent water efficiency on average. Once used mostly in commercial operations, home gardeners are catching onto drip irrigation systems. They are perfect for vegetable gardens, because you can design the system to water only to the vegetable plants’ moisture requirements. Although these systems can be expensive and initially time-consuming to create, your money and hard work will pay off in water conservation and low-maintenance watering.

Attach a backflow preventer to the outdoor water faucet that you attach your garden hose to. Attach the pressure regulator to the backflow preventer.

Install a water filter and connect it to the pressure regulator. Attach a properly sized tubing adapter between the water filter and the drip tubing.

Select the drip tubing that meets your garden’s needs. Drip tubing has emitters that channel the water along the plants. You can have emitters that are spaced evenly for crops planted in rows or emitters spaced intermittently for plants that are spaced far apart.

Stake the drip tubing to hold it in place. Fix the end caps onto the emitters. Adjust the pressure regulator so that you add 5 pounds-per-square-inch to the operating pressure for every 10-foot rise in elevation above the water source.

Set the drip irrigation system so that it runs either automatically or manually. If you live in an area that receives a lot of rainfall, you may want to operate it manually to conserve water. Drip irrigation is designed to run twice a day, but you’ll need to adjust the pressure regulator and the emitters’ flow rate depending on how much water your plants require.

Check your filters and emitters at least once a week to ensure they’re working properly and not clogging. Remove the drip irrigation system at the end of each growing season and store it indoors.


Things You Will Need

  • Outdoor water faucet/valve
  • Backflow preventer
  • Pressure regulator
  • Water filter
  • Tubing adapter
  • Drip tubing
  • Emitters
  • End caps
  • Stakes


  • If you're using drip irrigation to water trees or shrubs that are spaced farther apart, ensure that there are two emitters per plant.
  • Use a 150 to 200 mesh filter for your drip irrigation system. If you are concerned about the cleanliness of your water, use a filter with a higher mesh count.


  • Don't bury the drip tubing and emitters, even if they are designed to be buried. Burying the drip tubing and emitters can cause clogging and lead to rodent damage.
  • Avoid extending the length of a single drip tube beyond 200 feet from the water source. You will lose water pressure and the system won't work properly.

About the Author


Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.