Picture of How to Install Drip Irrigation
TIME> 2 hours
COST> Starts at $40

In most parts of the country, trying to keep yards watered throughout the summer requires an open tap like you haven’t seen since your last fraternity kegger. Which isn’t so great if you live in a conservation-conscious area that restricts sprinkler use. If the best defense is a good offense, the way to beat the heat is with micro irrigation. This system of drip tubing and tiny sprayers delivers aqua right at the base of plants.

MORE: How to Install Drip Irrigation (VIDEO)

You don’t need a sophisticated irrigation network to supply micro irrigation—a spigot for a hose will do. Setting up a system to feed a backyard’s worth of plant beds, shrubs, and trees takes just a few minutes of designing and a couple of hours of connecting the various components. Then before you can pop open a cold one and admire your handiwork, your garden will be thanking you for its own liquid refreshment. __This Old House

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Step 1: Do Your Homework

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Most of micro irrigation is drip tubing, ¼-inch or ½-inch hose fitted with tiny plastic nubs, called emitters, that allow water to drip out at a regulated pace without clogging. The tubing snakes around and among plants and trees to get water into the soil at the roots. You can buy that tubing either prepunched, with emitters factory-installed under the surface every 18 inches, or unperforated, which requires you to punch the holes and attach the emitters to the outside of the tubing yourself. Unperforated tubing can be used to customize a system to an unusual layout or to connect sections of tubing where you don't need water. Some companies also sell soaker hose, laser-perforated rubber that weeps water into the soil without emitters.

MORE: Water-Saving Hose Nozzles

All manufacturers have accessories that are specialized for different types of plants—sprays for ground cover, foggers for hanging containers, and single emitters for reaching plants off the grid. But few offer a kit with everything included. You will need to draw a plan of your garden — because micro irrigation requires so much tubing, it is not appropriate for lawns—and map out a configuration of the tubing and accessories, then buy some parts separately. Or contact the drip kit's manufacturer; many will take your garden plans and provide you with an efficient design and materials list free of charge.

MORE: 10 Uses for Garden Hoses

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mieander2 years ago
Followed the link on how to install drip system, and it led to the most useless instructional video I've ever seen. It was just over one minute long, and roughly shows a strange application of drip tube being installed under a lawn (with the suggestion you can water on restricted days because nobody can see you use it.) Usually This Old House is a helpful site-not this time.

johnp93 years ago
The larger plastic tubing is about the same size as a garden hose but harder plastic. Smaller tubing is about 1/4 inch. You can use emitters or drip lines that have a small hole every few inches. You add taps into the larger harder plastic supply lines with a tap tool which punctures a specific sized hole for a tap. The taps are just small pieces of plastic with a hole through them and they have nipples at both ends to lock them into the larger tubing and hold the smaller drip line tubing. The taps are hard to pull back out and will make the hole a little larger. I found a few taps without holes through them which I guessed were to plug any mistakes. Make sure you lay out the larger tube to supply water at line pressure to as much of the area you want irrigated as possible. If you use drip lines, you need to keep them fairly short and roughly the same length so that they drip evenly. Each hole in the drip line reduces the water pressure and you will barely have any water flow the end of a long length. I added a very long piece of drip line to a single tap for my first time and the first few feet were ok, but the rest was significantly less. The emitters are very small holes and I expect them to clog easily so I use a filter and I use a programmable timer to turn the water on and off.
johnp9 johnp93 years ago
Make sure enough mulch covers the tubing. Critters got to mine and chewed them up.
thebluehawk4 years ago
Fairly good ible, I just wish every other line wasn't a link to your website.
If only!
This Old House (author) 4 years ago
Related link overload noted, guys! Will tone it down a bit on the next one. Bear with us as we get to know the site (and you all) better. Thanks!
How much pressure is required for these to work? I picked up a kit from Harbor Freight and I'd like to use collected rainwater with it. I'm assuming it's going to take more than gravity to provide adequate pressure so I'll need a pump but I want to use the smallest pump I can get away with.
The web stores I cited above have decent guides, even planning tools.
husainsn4 years ago
I have installed Orbit drip system using components from home Depot. I installed pressure reducer, but water pressure at the drip nozzle is so large that they frequently pop out. I tried to throttle the valve, but it reduces the flow. Any suggestions to reduce pressure? I find orbit plastic components not reliable, threads get mangled etc and their cost is another issue. I ended up spending substantial amount.
Get a pressure reduce from or or Less then $5.
I've found the best deals on various drip gizmos at an online retailer called "dripworks". I've found that the cheap drip kit being sold at Harbor Freight is useless.
suckrpnch4 years ago
More pictures and less ads would have made this a worthwhile instructable. As it is now, it isn't very helpful. A lot that isn't very clear to me.