If you live in a dry climate or if you are the kind of person who always forgets to water your plants, you will find a drip irrigation system highly useful. These systems help to keep plants well-watered and healthy, and are designed to do everything automatically. So no matter how hopeless you are, your plants will always be watered.

Drip irrigation systems are the best and most economical way to keep your plants watered and healthy. They are also environmentally friendly because they use less water overall. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about drip irrigation systems so that you can find the best for your home!

Key Facts

  • Drip irrigation systems have been used since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians captured the water of the Nile during the annual floods and using a system of dams, used this water to irrigate their fields for the rest of the year.
  • Drip irrigation has become a very popular system because it is the most environmentally friendly way to irrigate. With one of these systems, you can save up to 70% of water when irrigating your garden, orchard or crops.
  • One of the most important criteria when buying a drip irrigation system is the tubing. You need to know the length and diameter that you need in order for the system to meet your needs.

Our Selection: The Best Drip Irrigation Systems on the Market

A drip irrigation system is one of the best investments you can make for your garden. They are very flexible, meaning you can adapt your system to suit your yard, courtyard or farm. To help you choose the right product for you, we’ve selected the four best drip irrigation systems around at the moment. Let’s take a look:

Best Large-Scale Drip Irrigation System

This drip irrigation system is designed for watering a large area of around 200 to 300 square feet. The process is automated, and all the plants can be watered daily and simultaneously. The equipment is very economical, and it can save a lot of energy and much water. You can also set the system on the timer meaning your plants will be taken care of even when you are away on vacation!

Best Drip Irrigation System For Vegetable Gardens

This drip irrigation kit is specially designed for vegetable gardens of around 75 square feet. The system keeps your plants healthy by watering directly to the root of the plant. It has 1/2″ mainline tubing with a flow rate of 9 gallons per hour with drippers every 18″ perfect for vegetable rows. It is easily installed above ground with no need for digging or plumbing.

Best Drip Irrigation System For Pots

If you are looking to water pots or hanging baskets in your courtyard or on your balcony, look no further. The Raindrip R560DP watering kit is specifically designed for watering plants in pots and hanging baskets. It can water up to 20 containers and can be customized according to your needs. Best of all, it is easily installed in just 20 minutes.

Best Low Flow Rate Drip Irrigation System

The Philonext Drip Irrigation Kit is a complete irrigation kit for large yards, orchards or farms. It can be customized to water all your plants at the same time with just one switch. The low flow system delivers the precise amount of water at the right time, slowly and accurately, at the root section of the plant, saving on water while ensuring the healthy growth of your plants.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip irrigation systems allow you to save water and are highly recommended when growing any kind of plant. They deliver water directly to the plant avoiding water wastage, and they are easy to install without manipulating the ground. They can be adapted to suit any location and are perfect for pots, gardens, and even farms or orchards. Below we will address some of the most common questions about these systems.

Drip irrigation has become a very popular system because it is the most ecological of all.

The water conservation level of drip irrigation systems depend to a large extend on the type of plants and the climate.
(Source: Артём-Геннадьевич: 101769016/ 123rf.com)

What is a drip irrigation system exactly?

A drip irrigation system is a watering system used in arid areas, as it allows the majority of the water to be used for the plant. It also minimizes puddles and run-off, meaning nutrients and minerals are better absorbed by the soil, therefore encouraging the healthy growth of plants and trees.

This kind of irrigation allows the water to be soaked up directly by the plant as water is delivered only to the areas it is needed. Water is carried to the plant using a system of tubing and drippers, in the most efficient way possible. The water is released drop by drop by each dripper.

How much water does a drip irrigation system use?

The water consumption of a drip irrigation system depends to a large extent on the type of plants, as well as the climate. In general, drip irrigation uses 40% less water than manual watering using a hose, and 60% and 80% less water respectively compared to spray and surface irrigation systems.

For example, in dry (Summer) conditions, for 200 square feet of land, with drippers every foot, and around 1 gallon of water consumed between 20 and 30 minutes a day, we will see a total consumption of 100 gallons a day. This is the equivalent of 1 gallon per 10 square feet daily.

With one of these systems you can save up to 70% of water in the irrigation of your plants, pots and orchards.

On the market you will find many different types of drip irrigation systems.
(Source: Mark Bowden: 31012056/ 123rf.com)

Drip irrigation practically eliminates evaporation, since the water is delivered directly to the stem of the plant, and is rapidly absorbed by the earth directly to the roots. In the meantime, the moisture is protected from evaporation by the plant’s shade.

How do I calculate how long & how often I should run my drip irrigation system?

As we’ve already mentioned, one of the principal advantages of drip irrigation systems is that the save a lot of water. This means you don’t need to wet all of the ground, just as much as is necessary for the applicable plants. For example, for citrus trees, you need to moisten between 30 and 50% of the soil, although this depends on the quality and texture of the earth.

You do not need to over-complicate things with intricate calculations about the size and texture of the soil, however. Simply check the below tables for everything you need to know! The first table details the number of drops per plant, and in the second you will see the recommended drip-rate.

Age of the plant Clay Volcanic Sandy Gravel
1 or 2 1 1 1 – 2 2
3 or 4 1 2 2 – 4 4
5 or 6 1 4 4 – 6 6
7 or 8 2 – 4 4 – 6 6 – 8 8
8 or more 4 6 8 8 – 12
Season Clay Volcanic Sandy Gravel
Spring 2 times per week 3 times per week Daily 1 or 2 times a day
Summer 3 times per week Daily Daily 2 or 3 times a day
Autumn 2 times per week 3 times per week Daily 1 or 2 times a day

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a drip irrigation system?

We’ve already covered how easy to install and versatile drip irrigation systems are. We’ve also touched on how they help to save water. So you may be thinking, are those all of the advantages of these systems? As you may imagine, the answer to this question is ‘no’. Like all irrigation systems, drip irrigation has its advantages and disadvantages. The table below has a handy summary of their pros and cons:

Advantages

Optimizes water consumption by using a slow flow of water at low pressure.;Maximizes use of resources, making the most of the irrigation.;Fosters optimal plant growth;Does not produces puddles, which can cause plant rot or encourage fungi.;Encourages strong root growth which is straight and down.[list]

Disadvantages
  • IIncreases salinization in soil and can cause a layer of lime on top.
  • Damages the quality of water in irrigation as calcium bicarbonate forms in the heat.
  • Reduces drinking water quality through higher salt levels.
  • In dry zones it increases the risk of intense storms in fall and the risk of frost in winter.
They don't make puddles and to install them you don't need to change or touch the ground.

The pipes are one of the principle components of the drip irrigation systems.
(Source: Andrey Volokhatiuk: 35749963/ 123rf.com)

Which tubes are best for a drip irrigation system?

The tubes are one of the key components in a drip irrigation system. They are almost exclusively made from black or brown polyethene which is both highly flexible and resistant. The color is very important, and the inside of the tube must always be black in order to prevent the growth of algae.

Below we will outline the types of tubing which are most commonly used in drip irrigation systems:

  • 1/2″ tubing: Tubing with built-in drippers (the holes along the pipe) are usually this size. This size is perfect for mainline tubing or when you need to irrigate with large volumes of water. To connect the drippers, a hole is made in the tube and the piece is snapped in.
  • 1/8″ to 1/4″ micro-tubing: Most commonly used for irrigation of smaller areas such as pots, planters or flower beds. These smaller tubes branch out from the mainline tubing. The drippers are installed by cutting the microtube and fitting the dripper piece at one end.

Drip irrigation hoses are made of a plastic material which is flexible and resistant to UV rays, humidity, extreme temperatures and general damage. However, you should be careful not to cut or hit them with tools or machinery.

How do you install a drip irrigation system?

Once you’ve established which drippers as well as the flow rate and type of system that best suits your needs, you’re ready to install your drip irrigation system. Don’t worry if you’ve done this before, as these are very easy to install thanks to their interlocking parts and no special tools such as drills or saws are required.

Here is a step-by-step guide to installing a drip irrigation system quickly and easily:

  1. Before anything else, draw up a plan of your garden so you know how many feet of pipe you need. This will also help you to work out how many joints and other components you will need.
  2. Don’t worry if you are planning to install your irrigation system on a balcony or in a courtyard, as most irrigation kits are suited to small spaces.
  3. The next step is to install the controller, pressure regulator and filter. These pieces usually have ¾ inch threads which is the standard size of garden faucets.
  4. Mount the controller on the tap and then connect the filter.
  5. The pressure regulator is then screwed onto the filter. Check the arrow to ensure the correct water flow direction.
  6. Next, attach the tubing adaptor which will allow you to connect the tubing.
  7. Connect the mainline tubing as well as connectors and sub-lines as required.
  8. If the tubing does not have built-in drippers, punch holes in it to install drippers.
  9. Make sure the drippers are well-sealed to accommodate the water pressure.
  10. Finally, connect end caps at the end of each tube and on any holes you don’t want to use.
You should know in advance the length and diameter you need so that the system adapts to your needs.

The inside face of the hose should always be black to prevent the growth of algae.
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Buyer’s Guide

By now you have a pretty good idea about how drip irrigation systems work and how to use them effectively. You are now familiar with the different types of drippers, you know how to calculate the number of drippers and the flow rate you need. You even know how to install your new drip irrigation system. Now let’s take a look at the key aspects to keep in mind when buying this product to make sure you get the very best.

  • Coverage area
  • Tubing
  • Flow Rate
  • Drippers

Coverage Area

If you plan to install your drip irrigation system on a balcony or in a courtyard with just a few pots, a 1/8″ microtubing system will be sufficient. You’ll even find specific drip irrigation kits for courtyards and balconies that include all the parts you’ll need. You could also buy a larger system and adapt it to your space, this really depends on your budget.

On the other hand, if you have large yard or a farm, you really should have a system with mainline tubing which is 1/2″ or larger. These are more expensive, but you can connect 1/8″ and 1/4″ sub-line tubing to create a complex system. There are complete kits available, but in most cases, it is best to buy separate parts and build a system.

Tubing

As already mentioned, there are two main types of tubing: 1/2″ mainline tubing and 1/8″ to 1/4″ microtubing. The former is the way to go for large or complex drip irrigation systems. These are most commonly used in big yards and in agricultural settings. The smaller microtubes are ideal for a smaller system, such as for pots or in a courtyard.

The quality of the tubing is a key factor which should be carefully considered when making a purchase. You will find that products from the top brands are made from quality materials, such as low-density polyethene. This kind of tubing is flexible and durable, which will not split when you punch holes for drippers in the tube. Remember that the inside of the tubing should always be black to prevent the growth of fungi and algae.

Flow Rate

The water flow rate of your drip irrigation system is important as this directly influences its rate of water consumption. Standard drippers boast low water consumption, with a flow rate of 1 gallon per hour or less. There are other types of emitters, however, with flow rates of up to 15 gallons per hour, so this is something to consider carefully depending on your needs.

Drip irrigation systems for a courtyard or a balcony should always have a slow flow rate. This will be more than sufficient for the water needs of such a system while saving on water consumption. However, if you want to irrigate large areas of land, you may need a flow rate of up to 13 gallons an hour.

Drippers

The drippers are a vital part of the system, as they deliver the water to your plant. In some systems, the dripper is simply a hole of a specific size in the tubing. Some more complex systems come with tubing which already has the connection which you can snap the dripper into, while others have a tool for you to punch holes into the tube at desired intervals.

These systems usually come with drippers that you can install into the tubing, which is a simple process. The kind of dripper you need will depend on what you are looking to irrigate. For example, spray emitters are best for greenhouses, while traditional drippers are most suitable in dry conditions.

Summary

A drip irrigation system is a great investment for anyone looking to keep their plants healthy and flourishing without wasting water. Quality drip irrigation equipment will minimize the loss of water through evaporation while improving the appearance of your plants and preventing fungi and diseases.

In order to choose the drip irrigation which best suits your needs, be sure to consider the tubing, drippers, flow rate and size of the area you want to irrigate. These systems not only mean you won’t need to worry about hand watering your plants, they also help you to save water. They are also adaptable to different environments and locations, and easy to install as an added bonus!

If you liked this article, please leave us a comment or share it with your friends and family so they can also find the perfect best drip irrigation system to make their lives easier!

(Source of the featured image: Vadym Zaitsev: 28838828/ 123rf.com)

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