I have been trying to be able to write a comprehensive article about drip systems. I began with a list of a half dozen mistakes that I have made. I then thought I could add to my list of suggestions by viewing a few YouTube videos. Well, this went on for hours. I ended up with 2 full pages of notes. It was then that I realized that there is too much information to put into a single article. No one is going to read an article pages long. So, instead, if you are truly interested in creating a drip system, you need to do your own research. The best single YouTube program I found can be reached by googling “YouTube Drip System Watters Garden Center”. Now there are 3 videos—view the 2015 version. This is a program put on by the owner of a nursery in Prescott, AZ. He will give you a lot of practical information. If you are not yet saturated with him, simply Google “YouTube Drip Irrigation” and check out more videos.
Now I will try to add ideas that you may have missed:
If you have distance separated plants, for instance potted plants, then using drip emitters is wise. If you have plants densely planted or areas of ground cover, then using mini sprayers would be better. You cannot use drippers and sprayers on the same system. If you choose sprayers, you need to see me before buying items. I will get you started right.
Whatever system you use, try to buy parts made by the same company so they are compatible. Rain Bird seems to be the most common drip system brand. I just checked out at Home Depot, and that seemed to be just about all they carried—which was a lot! I particularly suggest buying the Rain Bird ½” couplers because they will handle all the various brands of “half inch” delivering tubing that will vary a lot in size. But order your ¼ inch delivery tubing from Amazon: “MIXC ¼ inch Blank Distribution Tubing Drip Irrigation Hose”. This is superior product. Attach the ¼ tubing to the barbed coupling first before insertion and grab the coupling with pliers to give you more leverage when forcing the coupling into the ½ inch delivery tube.
I’m going to assume that you are going to hook to a hose bib. If that bib is attached to your house, make sure it’s not delivering softened water—not a good thing. If you are buying connectors that are threaded, remember that pipe thread and hose thread are different.
If you have plantings that are lined up like in a vegetable garden, your best bet would be the tubing that contains inline pressure compensating emitters. Limit ¼ inch line runs to 25 feet. ½ inch lines can go hundreds of feet. I recommend these inline emitters over rubber soaker hose or T-tape. Run your inline system first before planting so you can see where the moist soil will be.
You barely need to cover delivery tubing if you choose to. Sun exposed tubing will last for 10 to 15 years. Then too, covered tubing won’t be tripped over. Leave the ends of lines exposed or at least located so they can be found and opened for flushing once a year. Also, flush out a line before using it the first time.
You can make staples to hold down tubing out of wire coat hangers. I can do this for you.
You will have to have different systems for trees and shrubs vs. flowering plants. One system is for infrequent deep watering and the other is for more frequent short watering.
Set your timer to water very early in the morning, but occasionally run the system briefly while you are out there to detect problems.
Plan on expanding your system as you do more planting and as plants get bigger and need more emitters surrounding them.
Don’t forget to buy a backflow preventer, timer, filter, pressure regulator and a Y splitter with valves so you can still attach a hose at the hose bib.
Good luck! Stan (You may simply call me Dr. Drip.)