How to Install Drip Irrigation

Close up of drip irrigation system

Last Updated January 24, 2024

A drip irrigation system is a perfect solution for those looking to save time and money while keeping plants healthy and happy. With some helpful advice from the landscape experts at The Grounds Guys®, you can set up your own DIY drip irrigation system in just a few easy steps.

What is Drip Irrigation?

Drip irrigation system watering vegetables

Drip irrigation simplifies the process of watering your plants, using a series of strategically placed hoses, valves, emitters, and timers. Once the system is engaged, water is released in a slow, continuous flow where it drips onto the surface of the soil above the roots of the plants.

Benefits of Drip Irrigation

There are a number of methods you can use to water your lawn and garden, from hand watering to an automated sprinkler system. While each one may get the job done, none are as effective as installing drip irrigation or come with the following benefits:

  • Conserve water – Because the water is delivered directly to the earth's surface, little to no water is lost to evaporation. A drip irrigation system can use up to 50 percent less water compared to conventional methods, reducing your carbon footprint and monthly water bill.
  • Save time – There is no setting or moving of sprinklers, or time wasted unwinding or winding up your garden hose.
  • Eliminate drift – Drift occurs when the wind carries water intended for your plants, and is a common occurrence when water is sprayed from a hose or sprinkler.
  • Easy to install – Your DIY drip irrigation system can be installed in just a few hours.
  • Adaptable – As your landscape changes or grows your irrigation system can be modified as needed.
  • Enhance plant growth – Drip irrigation prevents soil erosion and nutrient loss, and because the water is delivered slowly over a longer period of time it can help to establish and maintain a healthy root system.

How to Install Drip Irrigation

Supplies used for drip irrigation installation

You will need the following supplies. It’s also possible to purchase a ready-made drip irrigation kit from most home improvement stores:

  • Garden hose
  • Automatic timer
  • Hose bib (Y shaped connector)
  • Emitter lines
  • Backflow preventer
  • Emitters
  • Hole punch tool
  • Filter
  • Tee fitting
  • Barbed connectors
  • Hose end clamps
  • Tubing stakes
  • Pressure regulator
  • T-fittings
  • 1/4-inch plastic tubing
  • 1/2-inch plastic tubing
  • Tape measure

1. Make a plan.

Landscaper holding drip irrigation tubes

Start small and sketch out the area of your garden where you will be installing your irrigation system. Measure the space and determine the flow rate needed to supply water to each plant in the area.

2. Set up the faucet.

Drip irrigation system timer

Install the Y shaped connector at the faucet, and attach the timer, filter, adapter, pressure regulator, and backflow preventer.

3. Lay out the tubing.

Landscaper connecting drip irrigation tubes

Connect the 1/2-inch tubing to the faucet and lay it throughout your garden space according to your plan. Use T-fittings as needed to create branches or 90-degree bends.

4. Connect the emitters.

Landscaper drilling hole in drip irrigation tube

Use your hole punch to make holes in the tubing at the correct intervals, insert a barbed connector into each, and add a length of 1/4-inch tubing sufficient to reach the base of the plant. Attach a dripper with the desired flow rate and stake the tubing to secure.

DIY Drip Irrigation Maintenance Tips

Landscaper doing maintenance on drip irrigation system

  • Leave your tubing in the sun for an hour prior to installation to increase flexibility.
  • Be careful not to cut lines when pruning or planting.
  • Replace broken emitters as needed.
  • Check periodically for clogged emitters.

Professional Irrigation System Installation and Repair

The Grounds Guys® are the experts in commercial and residential landscaping services, including irrigation system installation and repair. Find The Grounds Guys location near you to request a free estimate!