Hi everyone – Ryan here! Ashley is letting me take over the blog today to explain more about our drip line system set up throughout our home.
Since we installed these drip lines 3+ years ago, the system has worked flawlessly (with some occasional adjustments), letting us leave on week long trips without worrying about the flowers out back. The hope of this post is to give an overview of our system and the tools/parts needed to do this yourself.
Always Working Towards the Perfect Garden
Ashley and I love plants. We have entire Pinterest boards dedicated to backyard / garden inspiration. We save pictures of old English gardens and tropical landscapes. We love a bit of wild, organized chaos in our backyard, from mixed and matched old pots to shaped topiaries to splashes of floral colors and varieties. Living in Florida, the tropical theme is easy, but making the English garden fly has some serious challenges due to the intense heat, rain, and humidity. Over time, however, we’ve learned two tricks that let us create as much of that charm as possible.
First, plant, and replant often.
Second, drip lines!
Daily watering is the enemy
While we love a beautiful backyard and want it looking its best ’round the clock, Ashley and I do not have green thumbs. Far from it. And when it comes to watering, we get busy and forget some days. The tension would build at night before bed when one of us would ask, “did you water the plants today?” During busy travel seasons we can be gone for over a week. We would come home to scorched flowers and dead shrubs. It really drove us crazy!
So we needed to find a way to water our plants…without watering them. And that way is drip lines. It has been a game changer for our backyard and plants, and better for our marriage ; )
To Get Started, Decide Two Things:
- How many plants / How large of a space do I need to water?
Drip lines offer so many ways to water your plants. You can have fittings made to water a single plant, or tubes that can be wound through a flower bed to water a large space. I’ve linked to some of each below. It’s pretty intuitive, but you’ll need to plan for it. In our side garden/planter area we have separate potted plants that each receive a “spot emitter”. Inside the planter itself I ran a continuous line that waters plants every 6 inches or so. Chances are, you’ll use both.
- Will you connect the drip line to an outside faucet / garden hose or to your yard sprinkler system?
Both are great options, but have their pros and cons. Most people opt to connect it to an outdoor faucet / garden hose. That’s what I did, and the reason for that was that I needed the drip lines to operate on different days/times from when my sprinkler system does. My sprinklers are limited to operating (by city ordinance) twice a week on certain days. But for a lot of my plants in the garden, they need to be watered daily. I installed a hose timer at an outdoor faucet that lets me control what days, times, and for how long the plants are watered (e.g. daily, at 6am for 10 minutes).
If you decide to tie your drip lines into your yard’s sprinkler line, you will have to make the connection to your existing pipes (which I don’t cover here). And you won’t need a hose timer, which would save a little money. The limitation will be that your plants will only get watered when your yard does, and that may or may not be what is needed.
Once you figure out the two above questions and buy the right parts (below), it’s time to run a 1/2 water line to your flower bed. I run a 1/2 line from the faucet on the side of my house underground and across my yard. Once there, you can install a manifold for connecting multiple 1/4 lines for continuous watering or spot emitters.
Drip Line Essentials
Installing drip lines may sound like a ton of work, but it’s very doable for anyone, not to mention the payoff is HUGE. Imagine waking up every morning to lush, green plants and lively flowers without having to do the heavy lifting of watering each day! Below is a breakdown of everything you need to get your drip lines started, along with a few tips and tricks.
Drip Line Kit
Truth be told, I never used a kit. I instead bought most pieces separately, even though the kit might have been the easier/more cost effective way to go. These are a great way to start your drip line project and you can always buy/add on more lines later.
This is the MVP that makes everything else work. It lets you set specific watering days, times, durations, and some high tech ones even let you control them with your phone. Connect this to any garden hose / outdoor spigot / faucet.
Garden Hose Splitter
This connects to your outdoor faucet and creates two hose connections. From there, you connect a hose timer (above) you to one side and still have an extra spigot to connect a garden hose. This was an essential add on for me.
Hose Connector Kit
This is the way to go if you’re using traditional Rain Bird or Orbit systems. I did not use this exact one (because I didn’t know what I was doing at the beginning) and used this basic brass connector instead. I haven’t had any issues, but the official kit also comes with a pressure regulator, meaning you don’t have to buy it separately. (more about water pressure at the end of this post).
Your drip line kit might come with a few of these, but you’ll likely need more. There are connects for corners, extensions, and three-way splitters. I’ve used ALL of them at different points.
Spot Emitters (all the types)
With drip lines you have so many options, whether the plants need to be watered at the root or need a traditional sprinkler “fan” to water larger distances. It’s all there, but you may have shop/look around.
Chances are you’ll have to experiment with what works best. I use a mix of all of them.
Continuous Line Emitter
These are so useful and low maintenance. They work for ground watering large areas where you just need water to get to the roots without soaking the actual plants. These come with 6, 12, and even 18″ emitter spacings to control the watering amount. This is what we use in the cedar planter in the backyard.
PRO TIP: When using these, use a 3-way connector and always “close the circuit” (like a circle). This will increase water pressure and allow for more consistent watering.
Stakes / Staples
ESSENTIAL to holding and directing your various lines. You may end up bending and weaving the line throughout a flower bed and these staples make it possible. I am always SHOCKED at how many of these I end up using. In fact, I’m buying more today!
I use these for the wall plants we have on the porch (pictured above). These are easy to stick into wood or siding and hold the drip line in place.
Quick Note on Water Pressure
I’m not an expert here, but I do know that every home has a maximum amount of water pressure. The more lines that draw on your home’s water source, the lower the pressure will be for each line. Most likely you have PLENTY of pressure. In fact, you might have to reduce that pressure using a pressure regulator to create a constant 25 PSI (too much pressure can cause your drip lines to malfunction over time). If you aren’t sure about your water pressure, worrying it’s too high or too low, you can always check it with a pressure gauge. If the pressure is low – even as low as 15 PSI, you can still run drip lines, but you may have to be conservative about how many emitters/lines you have operating at once.