Installing a Drip Irrigation System

An amateur sets up a drip irrigation system:

I was given a small greenhouse/cold frame for Christmas, and I want to use it for setting out tomato seedlings early. Yesterday I set up the drip irrigation system to water everything, since I don’t want to overhead water tomatoes in a warm greenhouse. This is the first drip system I’ve ever set up, although I have done minor maintenance on the system we inherited when we moved into this house. This was a pretty basic system, and I wanted it to connect to the hose, like the one across the yard.

Step 1: Lay out the tubing.

Half inch tubing before laying out

Tubing Stake

The first tubing stake inserted

Ready to attach tee to split tubing for 2 sections

You’ll notice that I laid out extra tubing before I got to the greenhouse. That tubing, plus the tubing from the splitter to be installed in step 2, will water plants that will be planted later in the season.

Step 2: Add adaptors (to attach the back-flow preventer and pressure regulator and hose) and connectors (to split into two sections, splice a place where I made a mistake, and add an end cap).

I had to do step 2 twice. Once with plastic connectors from the irrigation manufacturer, and once with metal connectors meant for hose repair. The first time, there were huge leaks. I’m sure there was a step I was missing, or something I was supposed to do, but I have no idea what it was. The second time, everything is tight, first try.

(Let me clarify: I used pipe thread seal tape to seal the connection between the tubing & plastic couplers. This stopped all the leaks except the ones coming from the tabs on the coupler. I’m sure there’s a way to stop those leaks. I don’t know it.)  If you have experience with drip irrigation, go ahead and use the stuff sold for drip irrigation. But if you’re like me, just buy the hose repair connectors instead.

The great thing about shopping in the hose section is that you can get splitters with on/off valves. So I don’t have to have a useless section of tubing with a end cap to add my other section later. I just have the splitter, and turn off the valve to the section that’s not installed yet.

Now to attach the back-flow preventer and the pressure regulator. The order should be:

  1. hose
  2. back-flow preventer
  3. pressure regulator
  4. female hose repair (coupler)
  5. tubing

Female hose coupling

Pressure regulator

Back-flow Preventer

Hose and all attachments attached to tubing

Now to attach the sprinklers to the tubing. Note the hole punch is meant for the half inch tubing, not the quarter inch tubing. This means that the little sprinklers go into the half inch tubing, and the stake sprinklers attach to quarter inch tubing connected with a coupling connector to a hole in the half inch tubing (push the coupling into the end of the quarter inch tubing, and push the other end into the hole in the half inch tubing).

Quarter inch tubing

Coupling Connector

Coupling connector

Hole punch

Hole punch about to punch a hole

Quarter inch tubing connected to half inch tubing

Quarter inch tubing loop stake holds down the small tubing

Stake sprinkler, half pattern

Stake sprinkler attached to tubing and in ground

Small sprinkler in half inch tubing

Tomorrow I’ll post pictures of the entire system, with the seedlings in the ground.

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  1. caglar keskin

     /  May 16, 2010

    It is a useful information about drip irrigation. I am a farmer and we have very large fields, before drip
    irrigation system was found it was a nightmare to irrigate all those fields because where i live is a place
    that does not rain so much. Now we use drip irrigation, saving so many water and it is a lot easier to irrigate
    the field with that. I am trying to read everything about drip irrigation and i recommend every farmer to use that
    technique, so i am grateful for everyone who gives information about it. I also found a very good guide about drip
    irrigation and it may be useful too for those who want to learn more information about that;

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