Install Efficient Irrigation

Did you know drip irrigation uses up to 50% less water than conventional sprinkler systems?  Drip irrigation is more than just for vegetable gardens - a drip irrigation system can provide efficient outdoor water use for most if not all of your outdoor watering needs.

Medium
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160
Points ?
$10
Annual Savings
$30 - $200
Upfront Cost
These are estimates
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Energy and water savings

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0
kWh Electricity
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0
Therms Natural Gas
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0
Gallons Gas
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1600
Gallons Water
  • Save precious water resources
  • Save money
  • Make trees and plants more resilient

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Overview

The Action
We will install an efficient drip irrigation system for part or all of our yard.
Is this action for me?
If you own your home and have outdoor irrigation this action is for you! If you rent, check with your landlord before making any upgrades.
When and Who?
This action can be done anytime. It is relatively easy to do and can be done yourself or by a professional landscaping company.
How long will it take?
Medium - some time to design your system and learn how to install and an afternoon for a medium sized installation.
What is the cost?
Around $30 - $200 or more for supplies, more if you include professional installation.

Benefits

  • Save precious water resources

  • Save money

  • Make trees and plants more resilient

Resources

Rebate/Credit

Apply before you start your landscaping project.

The Basics

Drip irrigation is a very efficient way of watering your garden and can actually make your trees and plants more resilient. It is also versatile and can work for most if not all water uses, even lawns! Installing a drip irrigation system is easy and costs less than you might think - and you can often do the install yourself.

Checklist

Learn about drip irrigation
Design your drip system
Zone your garden
Install your drip system

Drip irrigation rocks!

Drip irrigation is a watering system made up of small water lines and nozzles that are distributed around your garden to water just the adjacent plants.  Drip irrigation is like putting mini-sprinklers (or tiny hoses) all over your yard.  The difference is that they provide water right where you need it, right to the root of the plants so you need to water much less.  It’s targeted watering!  Sprinklers on the other hand, often over water and much of the water never reaches where the plants need it or is lost to evaporation.

The best part - it is low cost and easy to do.  Drip irrigation can be applied to your whole yard - trees, shrubs, plants, vegetables, potted plants and even your lawn.  It also works well on slopes or uneven surfaces.  If you are watering any part of your garden by hand now, installing drip irrigation will also save you considerable time.  If you would prefer to have help, most landscaping companies can help you install a new system.  Below are the basic steps to installing a new system.

Zone it

Before you design your drip system, have a look at your yard, and assess if plants with the same needs are in the same area or spread apart. Ideally, it is better to group plants with the same needs together into hydrozones. Plants with similar needs often benefit from each other, providing small ecosystems where they can shade each other and better hold onto moisture. This will save you time and water in the long run, and avoid unnecessary runoff.  Zoning is not required to install a drip system, it just makes it a bit easier.

Design your system

Before installing a drip system, the first step is to assess your garden and design your system.  Drip systems are pretty simple -- you connect the main supply line to a hose, place the supply lines around your garden and then connect the small drip lines to the main supply line. There are some different options on drip nozzles depending on the water needs of the plants.  Plan out where the main supply lines will go, where you will hook into your water line and what types of nozzles you need for which areas.  For lawns, there is special subsurface tubing that can provide efficient watering for small to medium sized lawn areas.

Install your drip system

Drip systems can be attached to an outdoor faucet.  Generally you will want to include a vacuum breaker or backflow preventer, pressure regulator and filter at the site of connection.  Then attach the main tubing line.  Then run the tubing lines around your garden.  Finally, install the small tubing with the emitters, placing emitters near the roots of your plants.  When you are done, cover your tubing with mulch.  

For lawns, drip emitters can be buried or you can run special emitting tubing below the soil surface.  This is a bigger project and requires some additional planning and know-how.  For more information check out this How to Install Drip Irrigation guide.  If you are not sure about designing and installing your own system from scratch, there are many manufacturers that provide kits with all the parts and instructions you need.  This is a great way to get started and try it out!  Kits run from $30 up to $200 with larger kits covering up to 3,000 square feet or more.

Critter Proofing

If you have a yard where small animals often come to visit, you might want to consider going for a tougher material for your drip system. A PVC pipe is sturdier and can’t be chewed through as easily. Consider extra protection for the drip emitters as well. Also keep an eye on heavy foot traffic through areas with irrigation piping, and add extra protection if needed.

Water wisely

Many homeowners over-irrigate, so use your new drip irrigation system wisely!  Make sure to find out how much water your plants really need and don’t over water.  More importantly, install a weather based control system that can program in your watering schedule and skip watering when it rains.