We purchased our first drip irrigation system from Drip Depot in 2021 and haven’t looked back! This post covers our full drip depot review along with all the basics of piecing together your own DIY drip irrigation kit for a garden of any scale.
If you’re under the impression that drip irrigation is only for farmers and professionals, then think again!
Yes, it was a bit intimidating at first. But these foolproof irrigation systems are for ANYONE! And any application.
Drip irrigation is easy, affordable, and the most reliable and efficient watering solution out there.
Let’s dig in!
Our Watering Woes
There’s a section of our barn that closely resembles a sprinkler graveyard.
Maybe it’s us, but any mechanical sprinkler option we’ve tried just doesn’t last. The ratcheting types. The oscillating type. Overhead ones that mount on t-posts.
Sure they’ll work fine when new and just out of the packaging. But after a month or two of heavy use in the garden they get less and less reliable.
Oh, looks like the sprinkler jammed up again. One half of the garden is soaked while the other is bone dry.
No problem. Remove the sprinkler, clean it a bit, set it back up. Two days later—jammed again! And the problem persists and gets worse and worse. Sprinklers that rely on mechanical motions—especially if your are on well water—just don’t hold up over time.
Eventually we just give up and go back to watering by hand. Not a good use of our time.
The year we moved onto our 5 acre homestead something else happened—drought set in.
We just couldn’t keep up with the hand watering anymore; especially after planting long rows of crops in our 1/4 acre self sufficient homestead garden.
We needed a solution fast. That’s when drip irrigation came to mind.
Drip Depot Review – Pros & Cons
That summer I happened to be working for our local farmers market in town. I knew nothing about drip irrigation. But I figured farmers would!
I asked one farmer where they get their drip irrigation supplies—Drip Depot.
Asked another—Drip Depot.
There seems to be a common thread here. So I went to the Drip Depot website.
They call themselves the “DIY Irrigation Superstore.” And that’s exactly what I found. A no-frills site with great prices, everything you need, helpful information, and fantastic customer service.
Drip Depot Review – PROS
The first thing I did after finding Drip Depot was price compare. They’re right on par or even more affordable than any other leading drip irrigation supplier out there.
They have everything! Every irrigation application you can imagine, most any brand of irrigation supplies out there—Drip Depot has you covered.
Their website is a one stop shop for videos, tutorials, calculators, and other tips to make your DIY drip irrigation system a success.
Fantastic Customer Service
From personal experience and from reading other customer testimonials, the customer support Drip Depot provides is top notch. You don’t need to be a drip irrigation expert. But they are and you’ll receive prompt and helpful support.
Drip Depot offers free shipping on orders over $49. That can equate to huge savings. And while a basic drip irrigation system isn’t going to break the bank, most orders will have no problem meeting that minimum threshold.
Drip Depot Review – CONS
No Phone Support Option
Maybe I’m old school, but my preference is still to talk to someone by phone. Drip Depot relies on an email messaging system for their customer support. You’ll get the answers you’re looking for in written form and not over the phone. Honestly, sometimes this can be more helpful since you have something to reference back to with easy links available to find what you’re after.
Website Learning Curve
I find the Drip Depot website a bit cumbersome. It’s all there. You can find whatever information or parts you need. There’s just a lot of it. And sometimes you have to dig through multiple links or pages to find what you’re after. But don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged. Use the search tool, watch some of their videos, reach out to customer support, and you’ll be just fine 🙂
No One-Stop-Shop Guide
Maybe it exists on the Drip Depot website, but I couldn’t find one singular guide that told me all the drip irrigation parts needed for a basic garden setup. What I did was reference their drip irrigation kits. While no kit exactly matched my needs, it allowed me to use the kit system as a template to know what parts I needed when building my own system.
That is also a big part of why I’m creating this post—to create that one-stop-shop guide for a basic drip irrigation system.
Why We Love Drip Irrigation on our Small Scale Homestead
Truth be told, gardening is not our forte. But we’re committed to setting up our gardens year-after-year and growing as much food as we can to feed our family.
We previously assumed that drip tape was reserved for the elite. Farmers, market gardeners, greenhouse growers, and the like.
Surely, a drip irrigation system would be overkill for us ragtag, small-scale homestead gardeners? We were wrong!
Drip irrigation offers SO many benefits and you can create a system that meets your needs for ANY size.
Let’s look at some of those benefits.
Benefits of Drip Irrigation
When sunlight mixes with tiny droplets of water flying through the air, evaporation happens. Any overhead watering system is just not that efficient. Drip irrigation minimizes evaporation as water is applied directly at soil level where your plants are located.
Most sprinklers cover… well, everything. Weeds, walking paths between garden rows, the side of your garden shed. Drip irrigation is direct watering resulting in very little waste. Water what needs watering and don’t water what doesn’t.
Any mechanical sprinkler we’ve used needs to be relocated multiple times each watering session to hit the whole garden. A drip tape system can easily reach every row and area of your garden and it only requires a one-time setup. No moving required!
More Peace of Mind
After your sprinklers start failing, you become constantly paranoid that they’ll jam up again and flood an area of your garden. With drip tape, very little can go wrong. In our 3 years of use. It has run flawlessly without any time spent worrying or troubleshooting.
More Time Back
A hands-off drip irrigation system means you get time back in your world to focus on more important things. With a young family, running a business, and plenty of other things to tend to around our homestead, this set-it-and-forget-it setup has become invaluable to us!
Basic Drip Irrigation Parts for a Home Garden
Drip irrigation systems are not overly complex. But there are a fair amount of parts and fitting needed to make up a complete system.
The following is an overview of those parts and how to choose the right ones for you.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Take it one part at a time. Get some basic measurements of your garden area and you can put together your own kit in no-time!
A couple quick notes before we begin:
– All parts I’ve linked to are designed to work with a standard sized garden hose with 3/4” fittings. There are larger and smaller setups available. But for our purposes we’re going to stick with what’s most common for home use.
– These parts are designed to be hand tightened only without the need for thread seal tape. Don’t use tools to tighten. Just snug everything up with your hands and you are good to go.
– Keep in mind the parts we linked to are the ones we chose for our system. There are other options on the website for you to consider. Our criteria is typically to select what’s economical yet still meets minimum standards of quality and performance.
Parts at Your Water Supply
The following parts are needed at your water supply. We have a hydrant in our barn that supplies our drip irrigation system with water. A simple hose bib or spigot also works.
Hose Manifold (optional)
To free up connections for additional hoses at your water supply a Hose Manifold can be used. We typically use all 4 connections on the 4-way manifold pictured. A manifold is optional, but gives you way more flexibility throughout the season.
Automatic Water Timer (optional)
You can certainly use a simple shut off valve to turn your drip tape system on and off manually by hand. But in our experience, an Automatic Water Timer is worth the investment. Basic timers can also be found at most home improvement stores. They allow you to fully customize when, how often, and how long your drip tape runs for. If it rains, skip a day of watering with the push of a button! And you can program it to run during the early morning hours before the sun rises the it’s most efficient.
Regardless, you will need some sort of shut off valve first in your system since most of the following components are not designed to operate under constant pressure.
The Backflow Preventer is the first component after your timer or shutoff valve. It allows water to only flow one way and not feed back into your system. If your backflow prevent appears to leak, don’t worry, this is normal. It will drain out excess pressure and water from the system once the valve closes and water pressure is turned off.
Next, a Filter utilizes a mesh screen to remove any particulate or debris from the water that could clog up the emitters in the drip tape. A removable cap on the filter canister allows for easy flushing to clear out the filter without dissembling the setup.
The last part needed at your water supply is the Pressure Regulator. This creates even pressure and flow rates within your system. Most drip tapes are designed to run at 10 PSI. But you may need to adjust your pressure regulator based on the drip tape you choose. Keep in mind the basic pressure regulator I have linked is designed to work under an average flow rate of water in GPM (gallons per minute). If you have a larger well or water supply, you may need to upgrade your pressure regulator. There is a flow rate calculator on the Drip Depot site that gives you a GPM estimate by timing how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket with water.
Parts at Your Garden
After you hand tighten all the parts at your water supply, simply connect a garden hose up to it and run the hose out to your garden area. In your garden, you’ll need a run of main line tubing running the width of your garden, a run of drip tape at each garden row, and a smattering of fittings to connect everything together.
Your garden hose will connect into a mainline tubing that runs perpendicular to your garden rows. We ordered a 100’ roll of 1/2” Polyethylene Tubing. You can measure out the width of your garden and determine the length you need. Tubing can be cut to length with a standard utility knife or scissors.
A Female Hose Thread Adaptor is needed at the front end of your tubing to allow your harden hose to connect into the tubing. At the end of your tubing, a Tubing End Cap is required. Both are installed by sliding the tubing onto the fitting, and then tightening the fitting clasp over the tubing.
We’ll get into drip tape next, but at each run or leg of drip tape, you’ll need to punch a hole in the tubing that your drip tape connects into. This Tubing Punch is needed for that. There are a few different punch sizes depending on your flow rates and needs. But the punch linked is the size for the parts referenced in this post.
Don’t forget to pick up a package of Goof Plugs! These plug up the holes in your tubing in the event you ever need to relocate a run of drip tape.
Drip Tape is plastic tubing with emitters. The emitters are where water drips out of at a constant, slow trickle when the system is on. Drip tape is most commonly installed along the soil surface, but some have specially designed emitters that allow the drip tape be buried just below the surface. This can actually extend the life of the drip tape since sun exposure is what most rapidly deteriorates the tape material.
If there’s one part of the drip irrigation process that can send your head spinning, selecting your drip tape is it. Not only are there different brands available, but each offer different emitter spacing, emitter flow rates, and tape thicknesses. Drip Depot has produced this drip tape buying guide to help you select the proper drip tape for your application.
If you’re not sure and just looking for an all around good fit for a variety of things, I selected this Drip Tape. It has 8” emitter spacing, an average emitter flow rate, and a thicker wall so your tape will last as long as possible.
To determine the length of drip tape you need, simply measure the length of your garden rows and multiply that length by the quantity of rows. For instance, if you have 10 rows that are 10’ in length, then a 100’ roll of drip tape is perfect. Even though the rolls come in sizes of 100’, 1,000’, or 10,000’, consider getting a bit more tape than what is immediately needed. Drip tape does not last forever and you may expand your gardening over time, so having some extra on hand can be a good thing.
Drip tape is installed with the emitters facing up and can be cut to length with standard household scissors or a knife. Note that depending on the width of your garden rows and what you have planted, you might also consider running two or more runs of drip tape per row. But for most applications, one line of drip tape per row is sufficient.
Drip Tape Fittings
Just like your tubing, your drip tape runs will have a fitting at each end. At the front end, a Takeoff Fitting connects your drip tape into your tubing. It simply plugs into the hole you’ve punched in your tubing at each garden row. These takeoff fitting come either with or without a shut off valve. If you can afford the extra cost, I recommend the ones with the shutoff valve. This gives you extra control to water or not water certain rows of your garden, which could be helpful throughout the season.
At the end of each run of drip tape, an End Cap Fitting is needed. Both the takeoff and end cap fittings attach by sliding the drip tape onto the fitting, then tightening the clasp over the drip tape.
Both the tubing and drip tape need to be secured down with stakes. These stakes comes in either 6” or 8” lengths. I like to install them every 5 to 10 feet. Since the system is low pressure, things don’t move around too much. But you’ll definitely want to pick up enough stakes to make sure everything stays in place and you’re not creating trip hazards in your garden.
And those are the basic components of a drip tape irrigation system! The beauty is that once you have it all setup, it’s easy to replicate year after year in your garden space.
Drip Irrigation Frequently Asked Questions
Who is drip irrigation for?
We firmly believe that drip irrigation is for everyone! Even if you are just starting out as a gardener, a simple drip irrigation system can really simplify your watering world. And the components can adapt and be reconfigured as your garden layout changes over time. Make the investment upfront and avoid the hassle and inefficiency of other watering options.
How much does a drip irrigation system cost?
Our system with 1,000’ of drip tape, 100’ of tubing, and all the other basic components needed cost about $200 a few years ago. Prices have risen a bit since then, but not much. We already had an automatic watering timer, garden hoses, and a hose manifold. Of course, your cost will depend on your gardening setup. It’s possible to get a very basic system for a small garden for $100 or less.
Are there drip irrigation kits?
Yes! Drip Depot offers a wide array of Drip Irrigation Kits to fit many different applications. These include kits for: container gardening, greenhouses, hanging baskets, landscaping, raised beds, row crops, small farms, trees, vegetable gardens, vineyards, window boxes, and more. The pre-bundled kits offer great value and highlight how versatile drip irrigation systems can be!
How long will a drip irrigation system last?
While most components on a drip irrigation system will last for years or decades, the drip tape itself can be the one exception. Drip tape, due to its constant sun exposure, tends to become brittle and crack over time. The longevity of drip tape is also dependent on the wall thickness you purchase. Thicker walls will last longer; thinner walls will have a shorter lifespan. Some replace their drip tape every year to avoid the cracking. We are on year 3 of using ours. There are some cracks, but the tape still works fine for our purposes. And locating the cracks and covering over them with heavy duty tape is always an option.
My garden is already planted!… Can I still install drip irrigation?
Yes! You can install a drip irrigation system at ANY point throughout the growing season. In fact, we’ve only ever installed them after our gardens are planted. This allows you to plant all your seeds or seedlings without the drip tape in your way. We’d recommend trying to get your system in before plants are too mature, for ease of laying down the tape without too much foliage in the way. But no time is too late for drip irrigation and then you’ll have it for future years!
What if I have multiple garden spaces or raised beds?
As you can see from some of the kits, like the Raised Bed Kits, drip irrigation can be very customizable. There are tons of fittings that allow you to split off your system into as many areas or zones as needed. The drip tape itself is designed to run in straight lines only. But with fittings that allow for bends you can configure your drip tape into almost any shape.
Garden On, Friends!
So go check out the Drip Depot website and see the possibilities for yourself!
Have fun customizing your very own drip irrigation system and see the stress of watering throughout the growing season disappear.
And while I’ve intended for this post to be somewhat of a plug-and-play template for a basic garden setup, you should still do your research and make sure you are buying the right parts for your application.
If have questions you can check out their Customer Support or Contact Us pages, or feel free to ask us below! We can’t guarantee we have all the answers, but we’re happy to share more about our experience using drip irrigation and Drip Depot!
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