Watering your garden during the summer months can be a time consuming chore if you use a hose or a watering can. Run some drip tape irrigation and put it on a timer, though, and it’s literally no work at all! Our Beginning Farmer interns learned how to run irrigation in a new plot last week and they all said it was so easy they can’t wait to try it at home.

The first step is figuring out how many feet of drip tape you will be using and how long your main line tubing (the line you plug your drip tape lines into) is going to be. The easiest way to do this is to draw a map and measure things out.

Next, you will need to figure out how quickly the water from your spigot comes out. This is called “flow” and you can calculate it using this flow estimator. Knowing your flow and how many feet of irrigation line you will be using determines the size of your main line tubing.This is important because if your main line isn’t big enough, there will be too much pressure and you will have blow outs!

Sites like DripWorks or Drip Depot can help you with these calculations. They also have customer service specialists who will work with you to figure out the exact parts you need for your unique set up. Here’s what we needed for ours.


When you are irrigating using drip tape, the water comes out of very tiny holes in the tape, called “emitters.” It’s important to make sure that your water is moving slow enough for the emitters to handle it and that it is clean enough that it won’t clog them up. To do this you need to attach a filter (center) and a pressure regulator (bottom). The thing at the top is a vacuum breaker. The pressure regulator is slowing down the flow of water from your spigot, which builds up pressure. The vacuum breaker releases that pressure when you turn the water off. All of these pieces screw together, in this order, right onto your spigot.


This is optional, but awesome! It’s a timer that gets attached between the spigot and the assembly I just described. Look how easy this thing is to set. You can’t screw it up! It also keeps you from flooding your garden when you forget to turn the irrigation off. Ask me how I know…


Here’s Maddie hooking it up. A regular old garden hose gets attached at the bottom.


Here is an adapter that attaches the garden hose to the main line tubing.


You attach your drip tape to the main line using these fittings (the green thing). They plug into the main line in a hole you create using this nifty punch.


Drip line fittings in the main line (we ran two lines per garden bed). The drip tape goes on the end of the fitting and is held in place by the green things, which screw down tight.


The other end of the drip tape needs to get plugged up so the water doesn’t just run out the end. They sell fittings for that purpose, but here’s a neat trick I learned from the farmer I trained under. Roll up the end of your drip tape and stuff it into a 3” section of tape.


Here is what the end cap on the main line looks like. You need to plug that up, too!


Here’s what our completed set up looks like. I don’t think the project took more than a half hour. I can’t wait to “water” this greenhouse!

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