Convert Your Patio to Drip Irrigation

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With California facing its worst drought on record, water-wise gardening is now more important than ever. A surprisingly easy way to conserve water and save your garden is to install your own drip irrigation system. (Also, you can then tell your friends and family that you installed your own drip irrigation system, which sounds pretty impressive.)

There are many reasons why drip irrigation is a worthy investment. First – plain and simple – it will save water. By optimizing the water volume per plant, drip irrigation helps your plants get just what they need. And by automating the watering of your patio garden you will save both time and water, and that means money. Who wants to come home from vacation to dead plants? Drip irrigation to the rescue!

Consult with a nursery or garden center professional about the best drip irrigation configuration to meet your needs.

For a little extra inspiration (and some concrete instructions!), watch the video and then dig into your own project!

Materials List

  1. Drip irrigation controller
  2. Drip line tubing
  3. Drip line micro-tubing
  4. Drip line punch tool
  5. Barbed drip line connectors
  6. Drip emitters
  7. End of line plug
  8. Cutting tool
  9. Drip line anchor stakes


  1. Measure Twice: Take a minute to make sure you have thought through the entire area you will be irrigating and measure carefully before buying your supplies.
  2. Run Tubing: First, you will run drip line tubing from the area of the hose bib, along the ground, to the nearest plant container.
  3. Hole Punch: Using a drip line punch tool (and a little muscle), punch a hole in the tubing in front of the container you will be irrigating and insert a drip line connector into the tubing.
  4. Make Connections: Connect a drip line to the other end of the connector and run a line up the side of the container to the top of the container. Cut the line where it meets the stalk of the plant.
  5. Determine Water Levels: You will need to choose the type of emitter based on how much water an individual plant will need. If you don’t know, any nursery or garden center professional could help guide your decisions. This is an important step, as the effectiveness of automated watering is dependent upon the right amount of water being distributed.
  6. Place the Emitters: Be sure to place the emitter so water is not dripping directly against the stem or trunk of the plant—this can cause the plant to rot. Leave an inch or more of space, depending on the size of the plant, between the emitter and the stem. For larger container plants, like dwarf fruit trees, place two or more emitters so the entire root ball will be watered. After you have placed your emitter, secure it in the soil using a drip line anchor stick.
  7. Rinse & Repeat: Return to the tubing, and repeat the steps until drip lines serve all the containers and planters in your patio garden.
  8. Finishing Touches: When you are finished, cut the tubing and crimp the end with an End-of-Line Plug and attach the other end of the tubing to your drip irrigation controller. The controller must be attached to your hose bib.
  9. Set It & Forget It: Be sure to set your controller/timer to turn on and off automatically at the appropriate intervals. Now sit back and relax because your garden will literally water itself!