Drip Irrigation for the Home Garden

27th April 2015

(In exchange for my time and honest opinion, Central Arkansas Water compensated me for this post. My opinions are my own. I would never endorse something or someone I didn’t fully support!)

dew drops

I’m like the James Dean of gardening. When it comes to my dirt clods, I’m a rebel without a cause.

Plan? Who cares! Water? Whatever! Spray it everywhere!

Unfortunately, this attitude has led to a lot of waste on my part–especially when it comes to water. 

I thought a drip irrigation system for my rather modest garden set-up was unnecessary and complicated.

I was wrong. Really, really wrong.

Thankfully, Mark Brown, the water conservation agent for my county’s cooperative extension office, was able to set me straight. During Mark’s visit to my garden, I learned a bit about UAEX’s partnership with Central Arkansas Water and how I could make my garden more water-wise and efficient.

The easiest step I could take, Mr. Brown said, was to install a drip irrigation system.

Drip irrigation systems have a host of benefits. They:

  • directly deliver water at a low-flow volume at soil level, reducing water waste
  • help maintain an even level of soil moisture
  • reduce risk of plant disease spreading due to overly moist foliage
  • have a 90% efficiency rating compared to traditional sprinkler systems (50-70%)
  • can be used with timers to automate watering

It’s easy to see why a drip irrigation system is an awesome option.

Off I went to Home Depot! IT WAS PROJECT TIME.

I garden by a lot of different methods (and drip irrigation can be used with all of them), but for this project, I decided to use a few of my container tomatoes.

Head to your local home improvement store (you’ll find the supplies in the plumbing section). If you’re more of a DIY-er than I am (God bless you), you can get your piping and accessories individually. For the rest of us, there are handy dandy kits that include (almost) everything you need. 

I purchased a DIG brand Patio Irrigation System–and it cost me all of $11.97. Super budget-friendly!

Mark recommended I also buy a splitter to affix to my faucet so I can still use my regular ol’ garden hose, as well as a pressure regulator to help.. you guessed it, regulate water pressure.

From there, it was just a matter of threading and cutting PVC piping, sticking fittings and drippers into the pipes, and placing my feeder tubes into my containers.

It didn’t take more than an hour from start to finish to outfit 4 containers, and that’s with me getting tangled up in PVC microtubing!

I’m excited to see how my new drip irrigation system benefits these tomatoes. You can bet I’ll be adding to my existing set-up in the near future. I don’t want my raised bed or my flowerbeds to get jealous!

PS. If you want to become more water-wise, you should check out the resources available through Central Arkansas Water and the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension. Mark has written some great (and free!) fact sheets on landscaping and home irrigation systems. You’ll find great info on home water conservation as well.

Discover more about the benefits of drip irrigation here.

Save Money in the Garden

  • Jill McSheehy

    I put one of these in last year and wouldn’t you know it, we had a very wet summer! I didn’t have to turn it on until mid-summer, but it was super – helpful. I would recommend the timer like you said because I forgot to turn it off one day. My fall potatoes ended up dying from too much water. 🙁 I’m looking forward to this season!

    • I would totally recommend a timer, too–it just ups the cost a little bit more. Ah, technology–why are you so expensive? I forgot to turn my drip off the other day, too–didn’t notice until my dog dismantled a microtubing line chasing after a squirrel and I wondered why there was so much water on the ground!

      Having Mother Nature take care of the water requirements is much preferable, though!

  • Sarah E. White

    We used drip irrigation in our old (bigger than we have now) garden and it was so great. May need to try it again…

    • I was amazed by how affordable it was. And customizable. You can make it as small or as big or as simple or as complicated as you want!

  • Talya Tate Boerner

    We just installed drip irrigation in our new garden. And don’t you love the county extension offices?? Such a resource.

    • The county extension offices are an amazing thing! People have no idea the amazing resources they have with these places, and it’s all free or low-cost. Crazy (awesome).

  • Fennarama

    This is really interesting. I just moved to a house and have a larger side garden than my four pots from last year. I’m excited to change it and take care of it, but i haven’t thought much about irrigation at all. I just figured it’d be me and the hose (oh wait, no, because the faucet is in the back of the garage…like inside, like so awkward) so it’ll be me and the watering can if our summer is hot or dry. In NEOhio, I might not have to do any work at all.

    • I hadn’t thought much about irrigation at all, either. I had a big problem with tomato disease spreading last year (probably due to foliar moisture), so the added help of disease prevention is a huge bonus for me. Not to mention that if you get a timer, you can totally automate your watering system! That means no hauling around a watering can. So cool.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  • Jamie

    I too always assumed anything with the word “irrigation” in the title was crazy complicated and expensive. Interesting!