DIY Network

Lawn Care

How to Install a Drip Irrigation System

A slow drip irrigation system can be great for new trees and plants, and by doing some of the irrigation on your own you can save some cash.

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Step 1: Prepare for the Project

While sprinkler systems are 70- to 80-percent efficient, drip irrigation can be 90 percent or higher. Half-inch tubing can be 16mm or 18mm and the parts are NOT interchangeable, so make sure you know which 1/2" tubing and parts you’re using when you start a project.Before you dig, call 811. The Common Ground Alliance has set up a national public service number, 811, connecting you with your local utilities marking organization. Make the call two days before starting an outdoor project.

Step 2: Attach Above-Ground Tubing

Hire a crew to install a sprinkler system and attach 1/2" above ground tubing running it along the flowerbeds and around the new trees

Step 3: Cut Tubing

Cut sections of 1/4" tubing, also called "spaghetti" or distribution tubing, long enough to reach just inside the perimeter of the plants. The end of the emitter should not sit right next to the stem of the plant. As a plant matures, cut the tubes shorter and move them further away from the plant to strengthen the root base.

Step 4: Attach Tubing to a Connector and Emitter

Plug a connector into one side of the tube (Image 1) and an emitter onto the other side (Image 2).

Step 5: Attach Spaghetti Tubing to Main Line

Poke a hole into the main 1/2" tube with an insert tool (Image 1), and put the connector end of the spaghetti tubing into the main line (Image 2).

Step 6: Stake Down Tubes

Snake the spaghetti tube under the plant canopy, and later stake the tubes down with steel wire and cover them with mulch. Don’t bury drip irrigation tubing, in most cases gophers will chew it up and tubing left above ground can be tempting for squirrels. An emitter running to a small bowl or basin can often distract wildlife away from your irrigation and covering the rest of your system with mulch will protect it too.

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