A drip irrigation watering system is a reliable way to make sure every plant in your garden is getting the right amount of water it needs to thrive. It also improves water efficiency by delivering water only to where it’s needed.
This guide shows you how to set up this simple watering solution to help ensure your plants flourish over the warmer months.
Run the tap you plan to connect your system to into a 10 litre bucket. Using the stopwatch on your phone, time how long it takes to fill. If your 10L bucket fills in 30 seconds, that is 20 litres a minute or 1,200 litres an hour (2 x 10 = 20, 20 x 60 = 1,200L).
Your drip line will be marked with output per dripper and dripper spacing. This allows you to make approximate calculations to ensure you do not connect too much pipe to one tap or zone.
The line pictured emits 1.6 litres per hour per dripper and has 10 drippers every 3 metres or 3.3 drippers every metre (10 ÷ 3 = 3.3). Every metre of line will supply 5.28L of water an hour (1.6 x 3.3 – 5.28). For simplicity call this 5.3L. If you needed 100 metres of drip-line, then the system would require 530 litres of water an hour (100 x 5.3 = 530). Well within a 1,200L/hr output.
Clear the area where you plan to lay your lines. Any mulch will need to be cleared back so the drip line can be in contact with the soil beneath.
Roll out the main sections of your line and loosely peg in place as you do so. Place a peg at every corner and one every 1.5 to 2m of pipe or as needed to shape and secure your system. Aim to position the drip line pipe around the area of the plant’s drip zone (the edge of their foliage canopy) as this is where they will have the most feeder roots.
Measure and cut any short sections for joining, cross lines or for hoops around plants. When cutting drip line pipe, make sure all cuts are at least 5cm away from a dripper.
Now add all joiners and secure them with pipe clamps. You may need to use pliers to firmly close the pipe clamps. If you are happy with the position of your pipes, finalise by securing with pegs. Use a hammer or mallet to hammer in the pegs but make sure you do not crimp the line.
At the furthest point in the pipe from the tap use a T-joiner and a short section of poly-pipe to add the in-line tap. This is used to flush the lines clean after installation and periodically for maintenance. Ensure it is secured with hose clamps.
Connect your system to your water computer (if using) and tap. The Back Flow Prevention Device (BFPD) should be fitted directly to the tap above the computer or timer. The BFPD will stop water in your irrigation system back flowing into your pipes if there is a drop in water pressure of the mains supply. Program your computer now too.
Run the system for a few minutes with the purge tap open to clear any water or debris that may have entered the pipes during installation. Close the tap and then check a few drippers to make sure they are running well. You can now cover your pipes with mulch and start watering.