If you’re looking to maximize the health and productivity of your home garden or landscape, installing an adjustable drip irrigation system is one of the best investments you can make. Unlike sprinklers that deliver water inefficiently to the entire area, drip irrigation applies water right where it’s needed – at the plant’s roots. Adjustable drip systems give you precise control over flow rates and watering schedules, ensuring your plants get the ideal amount of moisture while you conserve water.
In this complete guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about choosing, installing, and using an adjustable drip irrigation setup. Read on to learn the benefits, components, top products, and tips for success with adjustable drip irrigation. Your plants will thank you!
Why Drip Irrigation? The Benefits of Adjustable Systems
Drip irrigation delivers water through pipes, valves, tubing and emitters directly onto the soil at the base of plants. This targeted watering approach provides a number of key advantages:
- Conserves water – By slowly applying water right where it’s needed, drip systems can reduce water usage by up to 50% compared to sprinklers. Less evaporation and runoff means more water absorbed by plant roots.
- Flexible watering – With adjustable valves and emitters, you can customize water flow rates and schedules to suit specific plants, soils, and conditions.
- Healthier plants – The consistent moisture in the root zone prevents disease, promotes growth, and yields bigger blooms and harvests.
- Low maintenance – No moving parts and simple automated control reduces maintenance versus sprinklers. Drip irrigation won’t spray onto your home exterior either.
- Works on any terrain – Drip tubing is thin and flexible, making it easy to install across curves, hills, and raised beds of any shape.
While traditional drip irrigation kits offer some control, adjustable systems take flexibility to the next level. Let’s look at how they work.
How Adjustable Drip Irrigation Systems Operate
Adjustable drip setups have all the same core components as standard drip systems, plus specialized valves and programmable timers to control and customize water flow. Here’s an overview of how the components work together:
- Piping and tubing – Main supply lines distribute water from the source to different zones in the garden. Thin drip lines and emitters apply water at the plant’s base.
- Emitters – Installed along tubing or at the end, emitters control water flow out of the system. Adjustable types allow custom flow rates.
- Valves – Automatic valves open and close to control water supply to different zones independently. Allows watering schedules per zone.
- Filters – Essential for removing debris that could clog emitters. Filter type and size depends on water source.
- Controllers – Smart irrigation controllers adjust valve run times and watering schedules based on conditions. Flexible programing.
When all the parts are connected properly, the system delivers a precise amount of filtered water right to each plant’s roots when needed. Next, let’s go over what to consider when selecting adjustable drip irrigation components.
Choosing the Best Adjustable Drip Irrigation Setup
Installing your first drip irrigation system? Here are the key steps to choose the right adjustable components for your garden’s unique needs:
1. Assess your garden – Consider the total area, terrain, soil type, and the water needs of specific plants you want to irrigate. A garden plan is helpful.
2. Calculate required flow rate – Determine how many gallons per minute (GPM) and gallons per hour the system must deliver. Factor in peak water demand.
3. Select main supply piping – Main lines distribute water from the source to valves and tubing. PVC and polyethylene are common.
**4. Choose tubing and emitters **- Drip tubing thinner than mainlines. Inline or multi-outlet emitters. Match flow rate to plant.
5. Determine valves and zones – One valve controls each zone. Group plants with similar needs into zones.
**6. Size filters properly **- Essential part! Size for GPM flow rate and water source. Avoid clogs.
7. Pick programmable controller – Sets custom schedules. Smart wi-fi controllers adjust to conditions automatically.
8. Add accessories as needed – Pressure regulators, backflow preventers, goof plugs, fittings, etc.
Getting design and components right the first time avoids headaches down the road. Now let’s look at some of the top adjustable drip system brands and products available…
Top 5 Adjustable Drip Irrigation Systems
Here are 5 excellent adjustable drip irrigation kits to consider for gardens and landscapes of any size:
1. Rain Bird Drip Irrigation Zone Control Kit
Rain Bird is trusted brand in water-efficient irrigation. This zone control kit provides flexible drip watering with scheduled operation and adjustable flow.
- Operates up to 6 zones independently
- Wi-Fi smart controller with phone app
- Automatic daily watering based on schedules
- Flow control drip emitters – 0 to 20 GPH
- Filter, pressure regulator included
Ideal For: Medium to large gardens, zoning plants with different needs
Pros: Reputable brand, easy zone control, high quality components
Cons: Emitter flow rate could be higher for some gardens
2. Orbit 6 Outlet Drip Irrigation System
Orbit offers user-friendly gardening products. This adjustable system waters up to 1200 sq ft with customizable flow.
- 6 zone control via hose faucet timer
- Adjustable flow emitters – 0 to 20 GPH
- 1/2″ distribution tubing up to 200 ft total
- Filter and pressure regulator
- Expandable design
Ideal For: Small to medium gardens with multiple plant types
Pros: Very affordable but still adjustable, easy to expand later
Cons: Limited to hose timer for control
3. Raindrip Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit
Raindrip is a top drip irrigation brand. This kit offers automated multi-zone watering and high flow rates.
- Operates 2 to 6 zones independently
- Wi-Fi smart controller with app
- Turbulent flow emitters – 0 to 7 GPM
- 3/4″ mainlines and backflow preventer
- Advanced filter with flushing
Ideal For: Larger gardens and landscapes, high demand areas
Pros: Powerful flow capacity, filters are easy to flush
Cons: More expensive, best for experienced installers
4. Galcon Wi-Fi Programmable Drip System
Galcon specializes in smart irrigation controllers. This system provides fully automated scheduling and flow control.
- Controls up to 4 zones independently
- Wi-Fi controller programs each zone
- Pressure compensating emitters – 0.5 to 2.0 GPH
- Expandable design, additional accessories
- Simple push-fit fittings
Ideal For: Medium gardens, beginner DIY install
Pros: User-friendly setup and control, affordable starter kit
Cons: Max 4 zones, smaller tubing for smaller gardens
5. DIG Battery Operated Adjustable Drip Irrigation
DIG offers versatile gardening products. This adjustable system is completely wireless for quick installation.
- Operates 1 to 4 zones wirelessly
- Battery-powered controller, no wiring
- Inline pressure compensating emitters
- Programmable watering schedules
- Expandable design, up to 25 Emitters
Ideal For: Small gardens, portable setups, simple installation
Pros: Completely wireless, no trenching or wiring
Cons: Limited zones, battery replacement
This covers a diverse selection of top-rated adjustable drip irrigation systems. From simple and affordable to advanced multi-zone control, there’s a kit ideal for any garden setup and skill level.
Installing Your Adjustable Drip Irrigation System
Once you’ve selected components, it’s time for installation. Proper setup ensures your adjustable drip system functions smoothly. Here are the key steps for installing drip irrigation:
Plan layout and zones – Sketch garden areas and divide into zones based on plant water needs. Run separate tubing to each zone.
Assemble components – Gather all parts and layout. Organize tubing lengths and prepare fittings.
Trench piping – Dig trenches at least 6″ deep for mainlines. Lay piping from source to garden.
Install valves and filters – Position per plan. Attach to supply piping with fittings. Flush debris from lines.
Run tubing and emitters – Lay drip line tubing along beds and plants. Place emitters.
Connect to water source – Attach supply piping to spigot or automatic valve. Use backflow preventer.
Program controller – Set watering duration and schedules for each zone based on soil and plants.
Test the system – Turn on slowly and check for leaks. Adjust emitter flow rates.
Winterize – Drain all water before freeze. Blow out lines with compressed air.
Follow manufacturer instructions carefully. Valves, filters and emitters require special care during installation for proper operation. Now let’s go over using and maintaining the system.
Operating and Maintaining Your Adjustable Drip Irrigation
Once installed, adjustable drip irrigation requires minimal but essential maintenance to function properly season after season. Here are some top tips:
- Inspect and adjust – Check emitter flow rates and distribution regularly. Fine-tune as needed.
- Monitor soil moisture – Use a probe or fingers to verify water is penetrating root zones sufficiently.
- Flush filters and lines – Regularly flush built-up sediment that can block emitters and reduce flow.
- Clean and replace emitter parts – Disassemble and clean emitter screens and diaphragms as needed to prevent clogs.
- Check tubing – Ensure drip line tubing is still properly positioned around plants. Bury tubing that becomes exposed.
- Expand system – Add length or zones to accommodate new plants and beds. Follow original installation.
- Winterize carefully – Shut down and drain all components. Blow out lines with compressed air.
Troubleshooting issues right away maintains your system’s health. Let’s look at some common questions and solutions.
Frequently Asked Adjustable Drip Irrigation Questions
Considering an adjustable drip system? Here are answers to some common questions about choosing, installing, and troubleshooting:
What flow rate should I look for?
This depends on factors like garden size, plant water needs, and soil type. Most gardens do well with 1-3 gallons per hour emitters, while trees may need 3-8 GPH. Calculate total flow rate needed.
How many zones should I have?
As a rule, group plants with similar water demands into a zone controlled by one valve. Flower beds, vegetables, shrubs, and trees often each need their own zone.
What size filter do I need?
Base filter size on your system’s flow rate in GPM. A typical garden needs at least a 150 mesh filter that can handle 3-15 GPM without excessive pressure drop.
My plants aren’t getting enough water. Why?
Check for clogged emitters and flush debris from lines. Filters may also need cleaning. Ensure water pressure is between 20-40 PSI. Increase flow at emitters.
Water leaks from fittings. How do I fix it?
Leaks most often occur at improperly installed fittings. Ensure barbed fittings are fully inserted into tubing and secured with clamps. Tighten threaded fittings with pipe wrench. Use thread seal tape.
Can I expand my system in the future?
One benefit of drip irrigation is expandability. You can add zones, length, and components over time as needed. Follow original installation methods when expanding.
How do I winterize the system?
Winter freeze damage is a leading cause of problems. Shut off water, drain all pipes, valves, and filters. Disconnect tubing and blow out each section with compressed air.
Proper installation and maintenance will keep your adjustable drip irrigation working efficiently. A little effort goes a long way to healthier plants and water savings in your garden.
Discover the Benefits of Adjustable Drip Irrigation
We’ve just scraped the surface on adjustable drip irrigation. Properly designed and installed systems can transform gardens and landscapes by applying customized amounts of water right to the plant’s roots. Conserving water while achieving healthier, more productive plants is a beautiful thing.
Hopefully this guide gave you a comprehensive overview of how adjustable drip irrigation works, what to look for in components, installation and maintenance best practices, and how to troubleshoot issues. Don’t let your plants thirst – start planning your adjustable drip irrigation system today!