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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

59 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best drip irrigation kits

If you like healthy plants, but you don't want to waste the water that a sprinkler system uses, a drip irrigation kit may be worth investigating. The right kit minimizes the loss of nutrients while conserving water by giving each plant the precise amount of water it needs. One may also be the right choice if you have a beautifully landscaped area that features potted and hanging plants.

The right drip irrigation kit has sufficient tubing to reach all the plants you need to water. Additionally, the kit should feature a variety of secure fittings and emitters (where the water drips out) that won't come apart easily. The best drip irrigation kits also include a timer, so you don't have to go outside and manually turn the water on and off every day.

If you'd like to learn more about drip irrigation kits and get some tips for setting up your own environmentally-conscious micro-irrigation system, keep reading. If you are ready to buy, consider one of the highly rated options we've spotlighted in this article.

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The main benefit of a drip irrigation system is that it delivers water directly to the plants' roots while minimizing evaporation and minimizing loss of nutrients via leaching, which may occur from excess watering.

Key considerations

You've decided that you will be purchasing a drip irrigation kit to help you with your watering chores. Before purchasing that kit, however, you will want to map out your system so you can determine which parts you will need. Once you have that figured out, all you have to do is purchase the drip irrigation kit that includes all of those features.

Tubing

First, you’ll need to measure the distance you need to cover with tubing. This measurement starts at the hose bib and extends to the furthest plant. Remember to include any tubing that will branch off from the main supply line to directly reach each plant. You will need a kit that has enough tubing to cover the combined measurements (the main supply line plus all of the branches). If you purchase a kit that doesn't have enough tubing to do this, you will not be able to water all of your plants.

Fittings

The fittings go between two or three pieces of tubing so you can change direction at a 90º angle. The best drip irrigation kits come with two types of fittings: an elbow and a tee.

Emitters

The emitter is where the water comes out. Some plants need a slow trickle that seeps through the soil to keep the roots moist while others may thrive with a fine mist. You want a drip irrigation kit with a variety of emitters so you can provide the ideal watering situation for each of your plants.

Stakes/fasteners

If your irrigation tubing runs along the ground, you will want stakes to hold it in place. If your irrigation tubing runs above your plants, you will need fasteners to secure it in an appropriate position. Mapping out your irrigation system before you purchase a kit will give you a good idea of which you need.

Risers

Some irrigation kits come with risers that elevate the irrigation tubing to allow the water to drip or mist your plants from above. If this is desirable for your setup, look for a kit that includes risers.

Tools

Your irrigation kit may or may not come with a few tools that help with assembly. You could always purchase these tools separately, but you will be grateful for a kit that includes a hole punch to fasten the emitters and a cutter to more cleanly and precisely snip the irrigation tubing.

Plugs

If you punch a hole in the wrong spot, you will want your kit to have plugs so you can quickly repair the mistake.

Faucet connector

This part may be comprised of one or two pieces, and there may be two options in your kit (threaded and non-threaded). The purpose of this essential element is to allow your irrigation tubing to easily connect to your hose bib.

Wye splitter

If you have enough water pressure — at least 40 pounds per square inch (psi) — and you need your irrigation tubing to branch out in two different directions from your hose bib, you will want your drip irrigation kit to include this piece.

Teflon tape

Many kits come with teflon tape. It is an inexpensive accessory that helps lubricate pipe threads to prevent leaks.

Pressure regulator

If the water pressure coming out of your hose bib needs to be adjusted, you must install a pressure regulator in order for your drip irrigation kit to work. This is another essential part that you will have to purchase separately if your kit does not include one.

Timer

The timer for your drip irrigation system attaches at the hose bib. If you would like to automate your watering, a timer will allow you to do just that.

Price

The price of a drip irrigation kit can range from about $10 to over $40. It is somewhat simple, however, to separate the kits into three general price categories.

Inexpensive: At the lower end, from about $10 to $18, you can get a basic kit with a limited amount of tubing and usually only one type of emitter. These drip irrigation kits can be a good option as long as they meet your specific needs.

Mid-Range: In the $18 to $28 bracket, you will find extensive kits with many different types of emitters and fixtures, along with much more supply tubing. These kits also come with connecter valves, stakes, teflon tape, and more.

Expensive: When you move into the higher range, over $30, you’ll get fittings with better connections, so they are less likely to pop off. Additionally, you may find an added bonus, such as tools and/or a timer.

Tips for designing a system

Like other systems, such as a computer operating system, for instance, if there is a flaw in the design or architecture of a drip irrigation system, it will not function properly. To get the most out of your new drip irrigation kit, here are a few design tips to keep in mind.

  • First, determine the water needs of the plants and trees that will be serviced by your drip irrigation system. Which types of emitters will be most beneficial to your plants?

  • Before purchasing a drip irrigation kit, map out your system on paper. Do not forget the technical aspects, such as exact measurements and water flow rates (expressed in gallons per hour). You may want to ask for help with the calculations to be sure they’re correct.

  • Learn the basics. Understanding flow rate, for example, will immediately take the mystery out of planning a drip irrigation system. A flow rate of 1 gallon per hour (gph), for example, simply means that, when your water is turned on, a gallon of water will drip or spray from the emitter every hour.

  • Don't forget to take into account the type of soil you have. Sandy soil will drain much more quickly than clay-based soil.

  • There are limits to your system. In general, you want to remember that 1/2 inch tubing can only run about 200 feet when the combined flow rate from all your emitters is 200 gph. Likewise, 1/4 inch tubing can only run about 30 feet. Note: To get the combined flow rate, just add up the flow rate of all the emitters in your system.

  • To keep it simple, it is best to keep your entire system under 400 feet.

  • If you need more than 400 feet of combined tubing to cover your yard, consider setting up multiple drip irrigation zones to maintain optimum water pressure.

  • The quickest and easiest way to set up two separate drip irrigation zones is to attach a garden hose splitter, also known as a wye splitter, to your hose bib (outdoor faucet).

  • If your municipal water is coming out at a high pressure, you will need to install a pressure regulator to protect your drip irrigation system.

  • After purchasing your drip irrigation kit, read the owner's manual in its entirety to be sure there are no model-specific limitations that you may be overlooking.

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Even though it is called

FAQ

Q: Can I bury my drip irrigation system?
A
: Any supply tubing or feeder lines that simply transport the water can be buried to achieve a neater appearance to your drip irrigation system. However, unless specifically designed, drip tubing and emitters should not be buried due to the risk of clogging. Remember, when your plants start to grow, they will cover much of the system that is not installed overhead.

Q: Can I use a drip irrigation kit indoors?
A
: Although it sounds like a great idea, unless you have a designated area designed to withstand water, it is not recommended to run a system indoors. The nature of a drip irrigation system is to use controlled leaking to water your plants. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a drip irrigation system to leak. Because of this, these systems are best suited for outdoor use.

Q: What water pressure works best with a drip irrigation system?
A
: Typically, the pressure you want for a drip irrigation system is about 25 psi. Some systems can adequately function with as low as 15 psi — the lower pressure just translates to increased watering time — but if you exceed the upper limit of 25 psi, you run the risk of damaging your system with water pressure that is too high.

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