Are you looking for the best drip irrigation system for your garden? In this guide you will learn all about drip irrigation and how to find the best drip irrigation system.
If you aren’t very familiar with how it works, we will go over the basics but try to refrain from going into too much detail with regard to the drip irrigation system installation and maintenance. Each drip irrigation system is a little different and explaining how one system works might not apply to another.
Drip Irrigation Starter Kits
If you are looking for a kit that is ready to go, then a starter kit is a great, very affordable option.
A drip irrigation kit will provide you everything you need to get started with your drip irrigation system and it comes with detailed instructions and videos to help you get going.
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MIXC 226FT Greenhouse Drip Irrigation Kit
Rain Bird Drip Irrigation Repair and Expansion Kit
The Rainbird Expansion Kit is a must have for me.
This kit is designed to be an add-on and repair kit to the Rain Bird Drip Irrigation Gardener’s Drip Kit. It is for a larger garden and serious gardeners and has everything you need to build the best drip irrigation system.
This kit has everything you might possibly need except for a hose timer but that’s not mandatory. Again, I am going with the Rain Bird brand here because they have so many add-on components that are designed to work with all their other systems. There are several other good brands but none seem to compare with what rain bird offers as far as cost and durability.
Rain Bird LNDDRIPKIT Drip Irrigation Landscape/Garden Watering Kit
The Rain Bird LNDDRIPKIT kit is perfect for smaller gardens ( 384 square feet) and can be expanded with some of the other kits. The tubing is the same high quality rain bird chemical-resistant materials that I like to use and you get quite a bit of materials for the price with this one.
Probably the best kit to go with if you have a small garden of flowers or vegetables.
Rain Bird DRIPPAILQ Drip Irrigation Kit
The first kit I ever bought and still have set up was Rain Bird DRIPPAILQ, which comes with everything you need for a smaller garden or yard. It will accommodate 75 square feet and Rain Bird makes one of the best hoses as far as I’m concerned.
The Rain Bird system comes with everything you need for a small garden. The good thing about this brand is that they offer many addon components that you can use with this kit. This is one of the best starter kits you can get and it’s very easy to set up. Each plant will get the water that it needs and you can water them all without having to do any work!
- Vegetable gardens
- Shrub areas
- Flower beds
- Ground cover and mixed planting areas
Many people think you need some skills to set this up but it’s very easy with the instructions provided. It take about 1 hour to set everything up and then you’re ready to go.
What is a Drip Irrigation System?
Simply put, a drip irrigation system uses low pressure and low volume water to slowly water your plays 24/7. You can apply various spray patterns and nozzles to keep the foliage moist and the roots moist all the time. This of course will help your plants grow more quickly and prevent you from having to water them every day, which of course helps save you time.
The popularity in drip irrigation has risen over the past few years. Many people just don’t have the time to water their gardens, and this is one of the easiest and cost-efficient ways to do that. The other big factor for many gardeners can be a lack of fresh water. Many places are going through extreme droughts and a water efficient drip irrigation system can save you hundreds of gallons on your garden.
By reducing the amount of water you use on your garden you end up saving quite a bit of money and water. Unlike an expandable garden hose, you can use your drip irrigation system to add fertilizer quickly, which helps promote better growth in your plants. By putting the water right at the root system of the plants, you aren’t wasting water by having hit the foliage or other places where it won’t help the plant and can actually hurt it.
Why Use a Drip Irrigation System?
Let’s take a look at the main reasons why anyone would want to use a drip irrigation system. First, you save water by having it go right you want it to go. This means no over-watering your plants and minimal amount of water evaporation. By constantly keeping it moist it will evaporate much more slowly.
The drip irrigation system connects directly to your hose system and if you only have one hose faucet you can use a simple garden hose splitter. This allows you to run your irrigation system along with another hose that you can use for heavy watering.
One of the biggest benefits is that you don’t need to water your plants yourself! You can run a small line under the mulch and have it out of sight while it does the hard work. It works great for a raised bed garden, row gardens or just for watering trees or even grass.
By watering slowly and constantly you are preventing the promotion of fungal bacteria buildup. When water sits there for a long time it will spread small bacteria. When the water is constantly being added, the bacteria don’t like the introduction of new water, so they will be less likely to go there.
Sprinkler Emitter Drip System
One of my favorite emitters are the drip irrigation sprinklers. They can cover a pretty large area and you don’t have to worry about specially dripping water onto individual plants. The drip irrigation sprinklers fit and standard ¼” tubing and can be adjusted to either produce a slow drip or a large spray to cover several plants.
This way you can use one emitter to water several plants. They don’t easily get clogged, and the water flow is fairly constant. The best designs I have seen with regard to drip irrigation use only these sprinkler drippers to cover larger areas and save more water.
Spot Watering Emitters
Are inserted directly into the tubing and emit water via the nozzle on the end. One of the most common types of emitters is a 1 gallon per hour (GPH) spot watering emitter that will deliver 1 gallon per hour @ 15-50 PSI. The great thing about these is that they are designed using high quality plastic and are UV resistant. Most emitters will fit into just about all hose tubings but you might want to double check to be sure.
Hose Faucet Timers
A hose faucet timer works by preventing water flow until the time is right. By using a programmable timer you can choose when you want your water to turn on, how much water should flow and when to turn it off.
Hose faucet timers are very easy to set up and can be fun to use. You can set watering duration from 1 minute to 4 hours and have it stay off for 24 hours at a time. The digital hose faucet timer is very cool and if you’re not home you can still water your plants.
Many plants grow the best when they are watered early in the morning. If you can’t get around to watering them first thing in the morning, this is one of the best ways of doing that without actually watering them yourself.
The Best Drip Irrigation System Components
When looking for the best drip irrigation system you will find there are a lot of components and it may seem overwhelming at first. Let’s take a look at the sample diagram above a basic irrigation system with three connections and see how it works.
It is musch less expensive if you purchase an Irrigation Assortment Kit and the amount of hose you need. The Drip Irrigation 1/4″ Tubing is also much cheaper than a regular rubber garden hose. It is made from 1/4″ polyethylene material which is pretty durable.
Garden Hose Socket simply connects to your faucet and is designed to fit all regular sized water faucets.
Tubing Quick Connector allows water to flow in one direction and not flow backwards when the water is turned on. This will affect the water flow rate of the entire system if is didn’t have this component.
Barbed Tee connector is a simple T-connector to combine three hoses together.
Tubing Quick Connector allows you to collect two tubes together.
Stakes allows you to secure your tubing into the ground and prevents bugs or other things from getting into or onto your hosing.
Risers act similar to stakes but allow you to lift the material off the ground and you can use different size as the plant grows taller.
Tee Pipe Connector allows you to put tubing into two sides and a coupling on the other side.
Atomizing Nozzle attaches to the end of a coupling and is where the water comes out. You can have it spray as broad of spray pattern as you want.
Dripper slowly drips water out and does not spray it out like the nozzle.
End closure allows the water to stop and prevents it from leaking out.
Finding the Best Drip Distribution Tubing
You want to pay close attention to the tubing that you’re using. The tubing is much different than most garden hoses and is just a thin ¼” vinyl or UV-resistant polyethylene resin. You want to see how flexible the tubing is. Do you want a straight line, or one that will bend around corners?
Best Stiff Drip Distribution Tubing
This tubing is very stiff and does not bend easily. It is designed for straight lines and even on a 100 degree day the tubing will not bend. This style of tubing is ideal for an overhead system where you would normally need steaks to keep the tubing straight.
Rain Bird T22-250 Drip Irrigation 1/4″ Blank Distribution Tubing, 250′ Roll
Rain Bird makes excellent products for Drip Distribution and Drip Distribution Tubing. This tubing is designed to be very stiff and not bend. It is UV resistant and can withstand VERY hot weather without getting damaged.
One of the most popular drip lines is the DIG flexible line. Designed to be very durable and flexible, it comes with holes placed every 6” in the line for emitters. All you need to do is take a connector and put it into the hole and you’re good to go.
Think About Your Plants
The main reason for setting up a drip irrigation system is to water your plants more efficiently. If you’re not growing plants then there really is no need for a drip irrigation system. The first thing to consider is your plants and their needs, not how good your irrigation system is.
There are some things you need to consider such as:
- Types of Plants (vegitables, flowers, fruit, etc.)
- Locations of your plants (How far are your plants from your water source?)
- Types of soil (Some soils and compost need less watering than others)
- Type of garden (Raised bed, row, or random plant arrangements)
All of the above points are very important to consider before purchasing a drip irrigation system, so think about them carefully. If your soil doesn’t need much watering then you need to use a timer to supply less water. If you are using an alkaline soil that is very sandy then you will have to water it more often. This should all be taken into careful consideration.