Drip Irrigation FAQ’s
What is drip irrigation?
Drip irrigation is the slow and precise application of water directly to the root zone of the plant, resulting in less water lost to evaporation in the sun or wind. The root zone is maintained at the ideal moisture level combining the proper balance of water and air. All of these factors promote deeper penetration of the roots, more foliage growth and abundant flower, vegetable and fruit production!
Why should we use drip irrigation?
Drip irrigation applies water and nutrients very efficiently directly to the plant’s roots and only where it is needed ensuring healthy plants and vigorous growth. Studies on drip irrigation systems are show results of up to 60% more efficiency over sprinkler systems.
Where should we use drip irrigation?
Low volume irrigation systems are designed for placement in both, new, existing landscapes and vegetable gardens. They are also ideal for installation on difficult terrain such as on slopes, in oddly shaped areas, and sites with high winds. Drip irrigation can be used on shrubs, groundcovers, trees, flower beds, vegetable gardens, perennials, pots and containers. It can also be installed in a greenhouse and nurseries
What is the advantage and benefits of using drip irrigation system?
The advantage and benefits are more than just saving water.
Water Efficiency: By applying water only where and when it is needed, with less runoff, deep percolation, and evaporation from leaves and soil, the uniform application of water from drip irrigation systems can achieve high water savings ranging upwards to 60%.
Ease of Installation: A drip system can be installed without special tools or glue, and with limited knowledge, therefore making the installation a very simple process. DIG’s low volume irrigation systems install easily above or below the ground.
Reduced Pest Problems and Weed Growth: Watering only the roots of the plants using drip irrigation cuts down on water-borne pests and fungal diseases that spread by water movement, as well as the germination of weeds in the areas between plants.
Versatility: Low volume irrigation systems are designed for placement in both new and existing landscape areas, and are ideal for installation on difficult terrain such as on slopes, in oddly shaped areas, and on windy sites.
Root Zone: One of the most important aspects of drip irrigation is the fact that in many instances, a totally new and more favorable root zone environment is created and a relatively constant soil moisture level is maintained. This fact has important implications on plants because it bears upon questions of plant water requirements, tolerance and control of disease.
Economy: Investing in a low volume irrigation system can save you money and significantly lower your water use.
Long Life: All DIG products are designed to withstand the harshest conditions in both home and commercial installations. They are manufactured of high quality, highly durable plastics and contain added quantities of the compound Carbon Black, making them resistant to the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays.
What is the disadvantage of using a drip system?
No serious introduction to drip irrigation would be complete without a look at the disadvantages associated with its use:
- Drip irrigation should have a pressure regulator and filter to protect the drip system.
- The soft poly tubing can be susceptible to damage from insects, rodents, and household pets.
- A filter is required to guard against potential clogging at the very small orifices of the drippers and micro sprinklers.
- You cannot see a drip system working as you can a conventional sprinkler system.
- Drip irrigation creates a smaller wetted area, so control is more critical to avoid stress for the plants.
What is the advantage of using drip irrigation vs. spray or rotary sprinklers?
Investing in a low volume irrigation system can save money by significantly lowering your water use in the garden and in turn lowering your water utility bills. Drip irrigation is less expensive to install in both, material and labor cost. No special tools are needed, the installation is quick and the system maintenance is very simple.
Where can I find out how to design and install DIG drip irrigation or micro sprinklers system?
For designing and selecting the correct parts for installing a drip irrigation system, DIG is offers a comprehensive series of links to help you . Also, please take the time to read our comprehensive Drip Irrigation Installation Guide. In this guide we provide you with all the information you need to install a system.
Where can I buy DIG products?
DIG does not sell directly to the public. Use the link below to find local stores close to you or visit one of the online stores that sell our products. Where to Buy
What is the best way to water container plants?
- To start a drip system for containers or pots, our complete kits are a great way to start such as model FM01AS for 10 pots or the G77AS for up to 24 pots. For large containers or raised garden beds our ML50 kit is ideal.
- If you would like to add to an existing system or create your own system that can be easily accomplished by buying our products separately. Our suggestion is to use a combination of 1/4 in. dripline (microtubing with pre-inserted emitters) and misters for large containers and individual drippers for small pots. For larger or longer containers use a 1/4 in. dripline. For pots use 1-2 .5 GPH drippers per pot. First, categorize the containers and pots into groups with similar sizes and similar watering needs. It is also advisable to divide containers and pots into groups that are either in full sun or in shaded areas. We have made a list (pot and basket parts list and installation) for what we think are the best steps to help you install this type of system. Please be aware that every installation application is different and we cannot make this link perfect for every situation. If you do not find the exact information that pertains to your application, send as an email with what you would like to do and we will provide a recommendation.
What is the best way to water a vegetable garden?
Our suggestion is to start with one of these 2 options: use DIG’s 1/2 in. dripline model B18100 with pre installed emitters every 18 in. for large gardens or our ML50 Raised Garden Kit which uses ¼ in. dripline with a 9 in. emitter spacing for smaller gardens or planter bed gardens.
What is the maximum flow that I can use with a single line of ½ in. drip tubing, single line of ¼ in. micro tubing or a single line of 1/8 in. micro tubing?
You should not exceed more than 220 GPH on a single line of 1/2 in. poly tubing with .700 OD, 35 GPH on a single 1/4 in. micro tubing with .245 OD or 5 GPH on a single 1/8 in. microtubing with .187 OD.
Can I use micro sprinkler or drippers on my lawn?
Due to a low flow application rate and maintenance issues we suggest you use conventional pop-up sprinklers to irrigate turf areas.
Can I bury the drippers?
We recommend having the drippers or ¼ in. dripline above ground or covered by mulch to prevent clogging. The drippers should be installed above grade, and if necessary secured by a stake.
It's my first time using drip-irrigation, What you suggest is the best way to start a drip system?
If you have never used a drip irrigation system before, it is suggested to begin by using one of our starter kits, such as model G77AS Drip Kit , ML50 Garden Drip Kit or GE200 Ultimate Drip and Micro Sprinkler Kit. For more details of how to install a complete drip system please see complete installation guide.
Is a pressure regulator necessary to use with a drip system?
Yes, drip irrigation or low volume irrigation systems have been designed to operate with lower pressures than sprinkler systems, so pressure regulators typically are a necessity. Operating pressure suggested for a drip system is around 25 PSI with the lower pressure start at 15 PSI and the higher pressure is 30 PSI. Using a pressure regulator will help to ensure your drip system will operate optimally
How you can tell that the system is working?
There are several ways to verify that your drip irrigation system is working:
- Check for moisture or wetted area at the surface of the soil directly below a dripper and around the base of the plant .
- If the drippers are subsurface connect micro tubing to the dripline at any location (ideally at the end of the line) and raise it to the surface. At the end of the microtubing installed a dripper and use it as a point source dripper to check if the system is operating.
- Monitor the flow at your water meter.
- Check the control valve via the manual external bleed.
How long and how often should I water using a drip system?
Depends on your location, plant material, soil type and the weather our suggestion, is that after a one or two weeks of using the system, check the soil, the health of the plants, and adjust the watering times as needed. Consult with your local plant supplier or nursery for more information or see our watering schedule with a recommendation.
Can you suggest other ways to save water around the house?
- Take shorter showers – cut your shower time by 2 minutes and save 5 gallons every time you shower
- A typical bathroom faucet uses 6 gallons per minute. Turn off your faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Check your water meter to see if there are any leaks. If it’s spinning and there’s no water being used, there is probably an undetected leak somewhere.
- While waiting for the shower to warm up, catch the cold water in a container to use on outside plants.
- Don’t use your toilets as a wastepaper basket.
- Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. If you only have a few dishes, it’s better to wash them in the sink.
- Use a broom on driveways, sidewalks and patios instead of washing them down with a hose – save as much as 150 gallons per use.
- When taking your car to a car wash, be sure it’s one that recycles its wash water. If you wash your car at home, don’t leave the hose running – use a nozzle with an automatic shut off and save up to 10 gallons per minute.
- Take a look at how water is used at your workplace and consider suggesting some of these same ideas to management.
- Consider installing a weather based “smart” irrigation controller.
- Get your irrigation system tuned up for efficiency. When was the last time you actually watched all the sprinklers in action? Are you sure there aren’t any geysers coming out of your front yard?
- Adjust the timer on automatic sprinklers according to seasonal water demands and weather conditions. Install a rain shut-off device on automatic sprinklers so you’re not watering when the ground is already wet.
- Check sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks. Keep the sprinkler heads in good repair.
- Avoid sprinklers that spray a fine mist, which increases evaporation and water loss due to moderate to high winds.
- Make sure your sprinkler is placed so it only waters the lawn, not the pavement.
- Install a drip irrigation system for watering all non-turf (lawn) areas. Drip irrigation provides a slow, steady trickle of water to plants at their roots allowing for maximum water absorption and reducing water waste. The systems can be controlled using an irrigation controller that can be adjusted for different levels of watering according to the needs of the plants. Drip irrigation systems can substantially reduce over-watering, inefficient watering, weed growth, and the time and labor involved in hand watering.
How do the drippers work?
Drippers are the heart of any drip irrigation system, the conventional “sprinkler head” if you will. DIG drippers help to deliver the precise amount of water required to the plant’s root zone. They are inexpensive, easy to install, reliable and accurate. They may be inserted directly into 1/2 in. poly tubing or extended to the plant with 1/4 in. microtubing. DIG drippers incorporate three different characteristics: pressure compensating, adjustable flow and turbulent flow drippers.
- Pressure Compensating Drippers are self-cleaning and utilize a silicone diaphragm, which moves up and down as pressure fluctuates to control the flow. The drippers are designed for long life under the harshest conditions. Ideal use for a PC dripper is in any design when attention to the number of drippers and the total flow capacity of the drip tubing are not followed.
- Turbulent flow, or button drippers allow water to move rapidly in irregular random motions. Turbulent flow drippers regulate water flow by dissipating energy in friction against the walls of the water passage. Button drippers are available in flow rates of .5, 1 and 2 GPH at 25 PSI and have extra large water passages to prevent clogging.
- Adjustable drippers allow the installer to change the flow for each individual plant. Twisting the dial on the dripper counter clockwise to increase or clockwise to decrease to adjust the flow between 1 GPH and 11 GPH.
What about different soil types?
The soil is a storage room of the plants nutrients, and the medium, through which water and nutrients move. It is the anchor for plants and the reservoir of water for plants’ growth. There are various types of soil with differing characteristics, which determine What types of plants can be grown. Nevertheless, plants can thrive in a very broad spectrum of soil textures when water is applied at the proper rate, with appropriate spacing.
Each type of soil creates a typical wetting pattern that will require a different layout. In sandy soil, the water will tend to go straight down, so we recommend using micro sprinklers or closely spaced, 12 in. apart, 1 GPH or 2 GPH drippers. In loamy soil, the water will move slowly and will spread evenly, so here you can use .5 GPH or 1 GPH drippers with a 16 in. to 18 in. spacing. In clay soil in which drip irrigation work the best, the water will be absorbed very slowly, so use low flow drippers such as .5 or 1 GPH at a wider spacing, 18 in. to 24 in. apart.