Figuring out the best way to water plants can be one of the most challenging parts of gardening. Let’s fix that today! Come along and learn how to connect drip irrigation to a hose bibb (faucet or spigot) to create an easy and efficient system to water your plants. This simple DIY drip irrigation system can be used to provide water to a variety of garden areas such as flower beds, orchards, raised garden beds, or even a patio container garden.
Even better, I will show you how to automate the system. You won’t even have to think about watering once it’s installed! As far as “installation” goes, do not be intimidated. Zero plumbing skills are required to connect drip irrigation to a hose bibb, I promise.
In this article you will find:
- A list of supplies needed for the project. We found most of them at our local hardware store, but I’ll provide links to the same (or similar) items below.
- A YouTube video that will walk you through the step-by-step process of connecting drip irrigation to a garden hose bibb. It also shows how to set up the drip irrigation system itself, such as adding various types of drip emitters to the line.
- A written summary of the steps shown in the video, with photos for quick and easy reference.
Supplies Needed to Connect Drip Irrigation to a Hose Bibb or Faucet
- A nearby hose bibb or faucet. Anything within 50 feet or so from the area you wish to irrigate will work. (Hint: you can also connect this whole assembly to the end of a garden hose, not just the hose bibb, which can further extend your distance.)
- A faucet adapter, which is specifically designed to connect drip irrigation to a hose bib. This part is very important! The adapters contain a pressure reducer, a filter, and a port to connect ½” irrigation tubing. Sometimes they include a backflow preventer too. Drip irrigation systems aren’t meant to handle the high pressure that comes out of your faucet without reducing it first (down to 20-25 psi). The filter prevents debris from entering and potentially clogging your drip irrigation system.
- A backflow preventer. It’s best to have a backflow prevention device in any irrigation system to prevent contaminants from entering your water supply. I didn’t use one in this demonstration project/video because we’re using a dedicated irrigation line (separate from our house water) that already has a backflow device installed upstream. If you do not have a backflow preventer already installed, either use a 4-in-1 faucet adapter that has a backflow device included, OR attach a simple vacuum breaker to your hose bibb before screwing on the 3-in-1 adapter I used in the demo.
- Standard ½” irrigation tubing, which is commonly available in 100 foot rolls.
- Drip emitters of choice, such as 1 GPH or 2 GPH drip emitters. You can also connect higher-output micro-sprinklers, bubblers, “goof plugs”, or any other compatible drip attachments to this DIY drip irrigation system.
- A punch tool, used to add holes and attach emitters to the ½” black supply line. We used a simple hand punch in the video, but this option is much easier to use!
A note about ½” irrigation tubing options and pressure
I should note that it’s industry “best practice” to not surpass over 100 feet of standard solid irrigation tubing as the system may start to lose pressure at the end of longer runs. However, we’ve admittedly run irrigation tubing much farther… maybe up to 250 feet. The far end did have slightly less pressure than the beginning, but it still did the job! You can also add higher flow (GPH) emitters towards the end to compensate if needed. For very large areas (where more than 200-300 feet of line is needed), it’s best to split the system into separate lines that will run at different times if possible – like we’re doing via our 2-outlet hose timer.
Also note that there are different types of ½” drip tubing available, such as “pressure compensating” tubing. It has pre-installed emitters in the line every so often, such as every 6 inches, 12 inches, 18 inches, and so on. That type of irrigation tubing can maintain even pressure in much longer distances than standard tubing. Yet it limits how much you can customize the system and water output.
- A battery-operated garden hose timer, which will easily automate the system for you! In this particular project, we used a 2-outlet hose timer. That way, we can eventually connect a separate drip line to the other port – which will also allow us to break up our very long fenceline into two shorter irrigation lines. We use single outlet hose timers in other areas. Simply leave the main faucet ON, set the timer, and it will allow water to flow through to your drip system at the time and duration you designated. It’s a total life-saver!
- A hose splitter or Y-valve. With this, you can connect the drip irrigation system to a hose bibb (on one side of the splitter) while also still maintaining a free outlet for a garden hose, to fill watering cans, etc.
- Galvanized landscape staples to hold the drip line in place.
- Figure 8 clamp to end the main ½” supply line. (Or crimp the end of the line by folding it back over itself and wrapping it tightly with duct tape.)
- ¼” drip irrigation micro-tubing, which is useful to a) provide water to an area not immediately adjacent to your main ½” line, b) run emitters up into pots or containers, or c) connect microspinklers or bubblers instead of standard drip emitters.
- ½” tubing connection tees or other couplings, if you wish to create lateral runs off your main ½” drip irrigation supply line (e.g. not just have one straight line). Simply cut the black tubing and firmly insert it into the connectors to create the configuration you desire.
Now that we’ve gone over all the supplies needed to connect drip irrigation to a hose bibb or spigot, let’s see how to set it all up!
Connecting a Drip Irrigation System to a Hose Bibb (Demonstration Video)
How to Attach a Drip Irrigation System to a Hose Bibb or Faucet (Written Summary)
Step 1: Add a Drip Adapter to the Hose Bib
Begin by deciding exactly how you’d like to connect your drip irrigation to the hose bibb. Feel free to follow one of the configuration examples shown below. For instance, if you’d like to include a Y-valve or hose timer. The most basic installation is to connect the faucet adapter right to your hose bibb, where you’d manually turn the faucet on or off to run the drip system. Attach the ½” irrigation tubing (supply line) to the adapter by firmly pressing it into the barbed outlet. (Some adapters may have a screw-down clamp connection instead).
Though they’re made to be outside, protecting your hose timer from direct sun exposure can help prolong its life. Sun and heat make plastic brittle over time. Therefore, consider covering the timer with an old cloth or bucket to shield it.
Step 2: Lay Out the Supply Line
Next, lay out the ½” irrigation tubing supply line to the area you want to deliver water. It’s best to keep the supply line centered in the landscaped area, or close to the base of plants. Secure the supply line to the ground with landscape staples or hooked stakes. We typically work ours down under the layer of bark mulch (if present) to hide the main line, but wait to do this until after we’ve installed all our drip emitters.
Decide where you want the drip irrigation system to end. Use sharp scissors to cut the tubing. Before capping the end of your line, you may want to turn on the water to flush it out and clear any debris first. (Especially if you suspect dirt got into the end of the line while you were laying it out.) Once cleared, use a figure 8 clamp to crimp and end the line. Or, fold the end of the line back over itself and secure it with sturdy tape.
Step 3: Add Drip Emitters
Now it is time to add your drip emitters of choice. To install the drip emitters along the main irrigation supply line, use a punch tool to create small holes in the tubing at the desired locations. Carefully support the tubing as you use the punch, being cautious to not push all the way through both sides of the tube. Insert the barbed end of the drip emitter into the hole and twist it into place.
Alternatively, you can supply water to an area further away from the main line via microtubing. Use a connector with barbs on each end to attach ¼” microtubing to the main supply line. Then cut the microtubing to the desired length and add a drip emitter to the opposite end of the tubing. This is a great way to water containers or pots from a drip irrigation system connected to a hose bibb. We’ve also used bubblers or micro-sprinklers to deliver more water (and a larger surface area) to trees on the same drip irrigation system as other plants with lower water needs.
Drip emitter options & irrigation frequency
Drip emitters come in various flow rates, typically listed in gallons per hour (GPH). What you choose to use will be based on your unique irrigation needs. For instance, your climate, the types of plants you’re growing, and the duration and frequency you plan to run your drip line. It may take a little research to figure out how much water each plant needs. Check out this quick and helpful irrigation guide from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Or, see this more detailed article about watering newly planted trees and shrubs from the University of Minnesota.
In this freshly landscaped area, we installed 2 GPH emitters and run the system for one hour every 3 days (for now). It is currently our warmest season (September-October), and we do not receive any rain here except in the winter months. We’ll turn the system off or down once rain comes. Also, we’ll likely lessen the duration and/or frequency once the plants are more established. We installed one emitter per perennial shrub (verbena, salvia, pincushion, sweet bay laurel) since they’re all fairly drought-tolerant. The edible shrubs and fruit trees (pineapple guava, mulberry, pomegranates, Meyer lemons) all received two emitters – one on each side of their root ball.
Check your irrigation system periodically to ensure everything is functioning properly. Is the soil moist where desired? Do any plants seem stressed – signaling they may need more or less water? It’s easy to modify your system by adding additional drip emitters, upgrading certain areas to higher-output bubblers, or to cut back water by reducing the time or frequency. If you’re using an automatic timer, be sure to check the batteries on occasion! You could also consider upgrading to a solar-powered hose timer.
Now turn on your new DIY irrigation system and enjoy easy, efficient watering!
Well friends, what do you think? I told you it was going to be simple. All in all, I hope this tutorial makes you feel confident to get out there and connect drip irrigation to a hose bibb yourself. Drip is the most efficient (plant and planet-friendly) type of irrigation you can use after all! I also hope your newfound knowledge empowers you to spruce up neglected areas in your yard where a “lack of water” was previously holding you back. If you found this post to be valuable, please feel free to pin or share it. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below. Happy landscaping!
You may also enjoy these articles:
- How to Remove or Kill Grass (and Grow Food, Not Lawns!)
- How to Build a Raised Garden Bed (video included)
- Rainwater Harvesting 101: How to Set up a Rainwater Collection System
- Top 23 Plants for Pollinators: Attract Bees, Butterflies and Hummingbirds
- How to Plant a Tree: Best Practices for Healthy Happy Trees