Drip Irrigation Question (I'm entirely new to this)

drumz1February 22, 2011

I've been veggie gardening for years (with very good results), but don't have a back yard well, and rely on city water for irrigaton to the garden.

As of late, the city charges a "sewer charge" in the monthly billing.....you can imagine what my water bill was last year (yikes).

So with that mind, I'm contemplating the "drip irrigation" method for this year's garden. My main crop is tomatoes (about 75% of the garden, you might say that I love homegrown tomatoes), plus green beans, peppers, onions, and a few other plants.

Now comes the embarrassing part: I'm a complete newbie to this, and don't really know much about it. From what I've been told by a few friends, there is much to consider, such as water pressure, gallons per hour, filters in the system, tubing size, I could go on and on here.

I (and my ever-depleting wallet) would be indebted to anyone who can enlighten me on exactly what I need to do to install a system like this.

Comments welcome, and thanks in advance.



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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Save the fancy drip system for container gardens. Use a simple soaker hose with a timer for the garden. You can get the water company to put in another meter for outdoor watering that won't include a sewage charge in most cities.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 2:11PM
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I was looking for info on drip irrigation myself and came across this tutorial on the subject. It is mostly orientated towards outdoor systems but the same principles would apply to indoor systems I would guess.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drip irrigation tutorial

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 3:55PM
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taz6122 my city charges $ 2,500.00 to add another meter. I think drip irrigation is a better way to go.

drumz1 I will be installing drip irrigation to 540sqft of raised beds and roughly forty fruit trees this week. I have never done it before so I truly feel your pain.

I did my research and Dripworks had the best prices. I'm using T-Tape for most of my garden and flag type "Take apart" emitters for the trees and large garden plants.

For my system I purchased....

1) Brass Hose "Y" Splitter so I can have a hose attached without having to disconnect the drip system.

2) To the "Y" I will attach a 40PSI Pressure Regulator.

3) To the pressure regulator I will attach the filter.

4) To the filter I will attach a hose that will pass though a piece of PVC pipe that will run over to the edge of my garden. I plan on covering the PVC pipe with dirt.

5) The hose will go up to a small platform I am building.

6) The hose will attach to a Brass 4 Way Hose Splitter with ON/OFF levers for each of the 4 faucet outlets. This will be attached to the platform.

7) I will be attaching four Female Hose Beginnings to 1/2" main line adapters.

8) I will be adding 1/2" tubing to the Female Hose Beginnings that will twist and turn though my garden and home orchard connecting T-Tape and Emitters with various Easy Loc Tee's and Elbows.

Where I will be using T-Tape I will be branching off the main line tubing with a Tee Fitting with a length of 1/2" main line. To do this I will be adding a short piece of 1/2" main line between the Tee Fitting and a 1/2" valve. Then I will add another length of 1/2" main line to the opposite end of the valve. To this piece of 1/2" main line I will add the T-Tape. This will allow me to turn off that section of T-Tape if I need to and still be able to water the rest of the garden.

If you can draw a rough sketch of your yard and what you want to water. Dripworks will figure out everything you need for free. Just email or fax it to them. Of course you will have to decide on things like Push Fittings or Easy Loc Fittings and what size tubing you want and what kind of emitters you want to use but they make it all easy.

I chose the Easy Loc Fittings because I allows for me to...

Grow a crop that requires the whole bed to be watered with T-Tape. Remove that section and replace it with Drip Emitters a section of 1/2" main line with drip emitters. It will only take a few seconds. Say I'm growing bush beans or any root crop like carrots with T-Tape. I can take it off and roll up that section for storage. Then I just add a piece of 1/2" main line with 1/4" tubing coming off of it for the emitter for each squash that will be planted in the bed. All of my beds are 10ft long so all the lengths will be 10'. Because of this I can take them off and put them back in any section of my garden any time I want. Say the plants in one section are being over watered. I will just turn the valve for that section and water it less.

T-Tape typically spreads 8" on either side. So to cover a bed that is 4ft wide you need three pieces of T-Tape. One in the center and one 8" from each side the length of the bed.

You may also want a timer but I chose not to use one at this time.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dripworks

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:00PM
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daylilyfanatic4(Zone 6 SE NY)

i'm in the process of installing a gravity fed drip system.

Here Is what i have learned.

1: Water costs a lot of money. If you have the time/space to build and maintain it a pond helps. If not get or make a rain barrell

2: Dripworks does not have the best prices irrigation direct does. No I don't have any affliation with them and I have not purchased from them yet but I have read good reviews

3: If you connect to City water you must have a backflow preventer. It adds a few dollars of cost but is required by law in most places and where it is not it chould be..

4: If you have long rows with few connections T-tape is cheaper. otherwise go for drip tubing

5: in almost all cases drip emitters are a waste of money for vegetable gardens. pay the extra money for tubing with predrilled holes don't get emitters it will save you money in the long run.

6: You need a backflow preventer pressure regulator filter and hose adaptor.

7: Gravity feed systems don't need the pressure regulator or backflow preventor

8: get 1/2 " main line and if you can afford it 1/2 " drip tubing is better. If not the 1/4" stuff is good too

If you want to no more about gravity feed I'd be happy to try and help

Here is a link that might be useful: Irrigation Direct

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:23PM
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cirtes(U:10 - S:21)

Rainbird has excellent, technical, online books for all kinds of drip design. Link included.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rainbird Documents

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:27PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Daylily: Berryhill Irrigation is cheaper then Irrigation Direct, at least for the stuff I looked at.

I would go with drip tape over drip tube. But I guess we don't know how big an area you are covering? I garden with 6 high tunnels and 1/2 an acre. I went with drip tape and I will never own a soaker hose or sprinkler again. Unless it is one for the kids to run through!

Don't get caught all up on the gph, flow rate, etc, etc. I would just call and tell a place your situation and have them explain everything. Most places have kits and I would look into that.

As far as my drip tape, I have 1/2 inch header lines and my longest run is about 80 feet of drip tape. My gardens are segmented up into smaller patches all over. I run seperate header lines to every patch and drag hoses to each one. I switch alot of hoses, but that works for me. I can run four different zones off of one hydrant.

Just make sure you have a filter, pressure reduce, back-flow would be a good idea too!

I will suggest that you get couplers with valves, yes they cost a little more, but it is nice to shut of water for a row that doesn't need it. That is one mistake I wish I didn't make!

Cucumbers with drip tape

Tomatoes with drip tape

Multiple runs in one bed for carrots

Good Luck!


Here is a link that might be useful: Berryhill Irrigation

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 12:09AM
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daylilyfanatic4 I stand corrected. DripWorks fittings and Main Line Tubing is not cheaper than Irrigation Direct. I remember checking out their website. I guess I just dismissed them out of hand because they do not stock T-Tape or Easy Loc Fittings and I was unwilling to compromise.

I decided on my system while watching a UC Davis Master Gardener Series Video. The Master Gardener said the turbulent flow emitters in T-Tape are proprietary and its the only tape he will use. Why would I want to buy an off brand on something that I will use for years when I can have T-Tape for just a little more? He felt that T-Tape was the best tape and that also he preferred the Easy Loc Fittings.

Irrigation Direct carries some generic brand rather than T-Tape and some cheaper brand of locking fittings rather than Easy Loc.

The Master gardener also said all emitters clog at some point. If you don't buy the Take Apart Emitters, he said in time you are going to have a lot of headaches.

He also said he tried the tubing with the pre-drilled holes you recommended. He said over time the holes plug up and are a pain. He said he thinks its because the tube does not collapse like Tape does. So the tube is full or half full of water when the water is turned off. That water evaporates and the solids collect in it and clog the holes over time. He also said that small roots find their way into the pre-drilled holes seeking the water evaporating through them. While tape empties itself when there is no water pressure so roots are not attracted to them.

I try to save a penny any time I can. Which is why I purchased the tubing, the Take Apart Emitters and the Brass Hose "Y" and Brass Four Way Hose Manifold from Home depot.

All their prices I saw at Irrigation Direct where cheaper than DripWorks. However I paid attention and The Mater Gardener used expensive tools like stainless steal shovels and hoes. He is a professor and researcher at UC Davis and writes informational pamphlets for the USDA. He had money to buy anything he wanted and always goes for the best. In some cases like the stainless steal tools the prices were seven or eight times the cost of their more ordinary counter parts. When it came down to T-Tape and Easy Lock Fittings I think I probably paid $ 15.00-$ 20.00 more than I would have if I had purchased generic and off brand parts from Irrigation Direct who do not even name who manufactures their drip tape. For that amount of money I will go with the tried and true rather than the newest and cheapest.

Since I was only looking for and only recommending certain products I guess I should have worded things differently in my first post. What I should have said is that Dripworks had the lowest price on T-Tape and Easy Lock Fittings I could find anywhere.

For full disclosure I too have to say I have no business or financial relationship with any of the companies spoken of in this thread. I am retired and work for no one. I also am not being paid to post this or being given any discount or incentives. I know sometimes I�m opinionated but I am only trying to help. I�m no great authority on drip irrigation but having listened to someone who is did influence my choices so I felt I should share it. If T-Tape and Easy Loc Fittings can be found cheaper somewhere else then I would buy from them. My loyalty to DripWorks only goes so far as they have what I want at the lowest prices.

I always try to find the best and find it at the lowest price rather than finding the lowest price and settling for whatever it is. If I can�t afford it I go to the second tier and see if its something I can live with. However twenty dollars is not usually enough to sway me.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 12:33AM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

thisisme not all cities are ran by crooks, lol, yours must be Obama appointed officials. Please tell us where you live so we can avoid.
Some cities offer a portable meter that hooks to your spigot or hose for around $80 and you call in the reading for credit on the sewage amount.
Those may be far and few between but everyone should check their options.
Glad I've got a septic tank.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 5:31PM
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Hi taz6122, I live in Mesa AZ. I called the Water Co. today to see if anything had changed and got some good news. They now have a form I can fill out and they will discount my sewer bill without having to install a second meter. We have been here ten years and I have not called to ask about it in many years. I guess I should have called and asked every year but I didn't. I have a friend who lives in Lake Havasu who has no such luck. The first year after he installed some fruit trees at his home he got hit with a big sewer bill. Since then he has not purchased another tree and has sworn off gardening because of the cost of installing a second meter.

With a little luck we will save $ 25.00-40.00 a month. Glad I called.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 6:24PM
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I'm wide-eyed and overwhelmed with all the replies to my questions. Wow. Thanks!!

I will certainly check out all the links provided, and make notes of the recommendations in this thread.

Thanks again to everyone for your input, I appreciate it.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 8:12PM
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bluemater(z5 IL)

I use Dripworks irrigation stuff...make sure that the drip line is spread out over the entire area and not just at the base of the plant...tomato feeder roots branch out quite a bit from the base and you want to make sure that the water will saturate the area.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Drip tape is a good option but is far less durable then using a soaker hose, aka.Drip Emitter Tubing. Drip tape can be punctured, sliced or damaged very easily if your not careful. It's primarily used in the agriculture industry as a throw away product after the growing season. I've even heard of growers who just till over it and lay new tape down for the next growing season.

If you do decide on using drip tape, I would stay with the thicker mil product (15 mil or higher) for longer life. All the other related products are the same as a standard drip system.. IE, filter, pressure regulator, supply line tubing.

To clear up a few comments, the Direct-Loc fittings from Irrigation Direct are the same exact fitting as the Dripworks Easy-Loc. They're made by Irritec who've been making quality irrigation products for many years.

Irrigation Directs drip tape is also manufactured by Irritec who make a superior product.

For the record, I work for Irrigation Direct. If you have any questions, I would be more then happy answer them.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 1:24PM
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IDTechGuy I hope I did not sound like I was bashing Irrigation Direct. I also respect that you noted your business affiliation. Many come here promoting their products (Not just to defend which is alright) without being honest as to who they are and who they work for.

As I said I am no expert which was also why I posted how I came to my final purchase decision. I did purchase 15mil drip tape and I should have said that as it is more durable. In the video I watched they said the 15mil Tape had lasted without problem with only a few minor exceptions for years in a garden type setting. On a farm they drive over their fields with tractors and other heavy equipment not to mention plowing. If the drip tape you sell is anything like T-Tape and I will take your word for it and assume it is. I would suspect it has the same or similar durability. Most of the information on how long agricultural equipment and supplies work/last come from university agricultural departments. The Master Gardener video I watched was done by the head of UC Davis's AG Department. However it was made for the home gardener through their Master Gardener Program. He is a hands on AG researcher who also writes a lot of instructional pamphlets for the US Department of Agriculture. I think he even said its cheap enough to through away. however he also said at his home garden and many he has visited it his has lasted for years. He did admit to having to replace a few small sections over the years though.

Best of luck to you and your business. I love your prices.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 3:02PM
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This is what I have used for the last 2 years. see link below. I have over 1400 ft of 1/2 PVC down my rows. My garden is 3400sqft I put in over $600.00 into a drip irrigation system most of it only lasted 2 years. I trashed most of it and went to the PVC system. I'm very happy with the PVC system. water bill went from $120.00 down to $40.00 month. This PVC system is easy to put in each year. No glue is used. I use a 40psi pressure reducer. Check out the video below. Also look at You Tube there is lots of good info there.

Here is a link that might be useful: PVC Drip Irrigation

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 1:29AM
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daylilyfanatic4(Zone 6 SE NY)

berry hill seems yo have simillar prices to irrigation direct. There are several products that althouh listed don't have any items under the category. Also they have expensive shipping. I don't know what exactly the cost would come out to for you but for my project irrigation direct was far cheaper. The main reason is that they have free shipping on orders over $90.

Pvc is a good option but not for the area I'm trying to water.

Irrigation direct sells both t-tape and driect loc fittings.

I think my situation is different becuase the water is free.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 10:07AM
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daylilyfanatic4 actually irrigation direct does not sell T-Tape. T-Tape is a brand name and their built in emitters are proprietary so no one else can copy it. Irrigation Direct sells Drip Tape but not T-Tape. What they sell many be as good as T-Tape but T-Tape has a long track record which is why I went with them. The fittings Irrigation Direct sells are likely just as good as Easy Loc Fittings but cheaper. I have now placed my third order for fittings and T-Tape at DripWorks.

If I had known I would be buying so much I think I would have purchased all my fittings at Irrigation Direct. That is if I knew about their free shipping on orders over $ 90.00

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 11:32AM
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The only place I have for a garden in my yard is a fairly steep hill. Has anyone ever tried using drip irrigation on a hill? I figure the water pressure on lines at the bottom of the hill would be a lot higher than at the top. I am guessing drip would be expensive to use in my situation because if I broke my hill into ten areas each would have to have its own line and valve and timer.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 1:20PM
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cirtes(U:10 - S:21)

@Californian, Yes, Drip is ideal for slopes but you have to take special measures, as you have noted, for the pressure buildup and inevitable runoff down the slope.

Recommendation is to install a separate valve for every 10 feet of vertical drop. Also increase the spacing of laterals by up to 25% to compensate for water percolating down slope.

The Rainbird guide for drip is very good and I have linked to it (page 61). They use this as the textbook for the drip class at Pierce College in the agriculture department.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rainbird Drip Design Manual

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 2:30PM
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cirtes(U:10 - S:21)

Typical well designed spray irrigation will at best be ~ 60% efficient WRT water utilization. Atomization in air, overspray, runoff, and surface water evaporation create the water loss and decrease efficiency. Most systems are so poorly maintained and not adjusted for seasons that this numbers is significantly lower.

Typical well adjusted drip systems are more than 90% efficient with water use. Even when they are not adjusted for season, they conserve more water than even a fine tuned spray system.

The challenge with drip is two-fold:

1. It is usually more labor intensive to deploy and maintain.

2. To meet the high efficiency number you must do a lot of figuring and arithmetic to design the system correctly.

To the second point;
A proper design requires:

a) Calculating the daily amount of water each type of plant needs during the hottest, driest month.

b) Determining the water holding capacity of the soil.

c) Deriving from above data the best schedule for achieving the least frequent deep watering of the plant root zones while providing their daily need of water.

If you spend a few rainy cold winter days figuring these things out, it can pay great dividend come growing season with healthy happy stress free plants.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 2:47PM
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daylilyfanatic4(Zone 6 SE NY)

pressure compensating emitters can be used on a slope to mitigate the pressure buildup. They cost more though, so that might be a problem.

Sorry, I did't know t-tape was a brand. Irrigation direct sells driptape which I thought was the same. I think it might be just a generic brand of t-tape. They call their fittings direct-loc or something. I have never used it so i can not testify to the quality.

Irrigation direct is cheaper so I'm a little worried their quality might not be as good but I've read good reviews and they have several items for gravity feed systems that are helpful for my situation.

Dripworks is a good company and I'm planning on purchasing a timer from them. Just saying that the cost difference, at least for my project, was substantial, between irrigation direct and dripworks.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 6:03PM
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Thisis me is correct. We do not sell the T-Tape drip tape brand at Irrigation Direct. We currently sell the Irritec drip tape brand and fittings. These are the same fittings that most of the competition carries.

Don't let the low prices fool you. We truly cut out the middle man and either manufacture or deal with the manufactures directly. This allows us to lower our prices. We also don't feel the need to make fat margins on products. It's a business model that seems to be working very well for us :)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 2:57PM
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I have now ordered fittings twice from Irrigation Direct. Both times they shipped fast and I was pleased with the price.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 10:27PM
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I just installed a VERY basic drip irrigation for my VERY small garden (I probably have 10-15 vegetable plants in a couple small raised beds).

Mine is the very small (I think it's 1/4" flexible tubing). So far, I have found that I prefer the adjustable emitters. It probably has something to do with the small tubing, water pressure & length of tubing. No matter, but I find that the button emitters were simply dripping inconsistently for my needs. So, I went with the adjustable ones and can now dial them in to meet my needs. Works great.

I checked lots of websites (bought a few at the local stores, but they are so much cheaper online) and ended up with The Drip Store. The main reason was the shipping costs. I had a small order (about 20 emitters) and didn't want to spend $6 to ship $6 worth of stuff. The Drip Store shipped it for

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 11:05AM
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tn_gardening I wish more online retailers would do that. On small orders at most online retailers the shipping can be half the cost of the order.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 12:13PM
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