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  • Jeffrey Zimmerman

What You'll Need For a Garden Drip Irrigation System

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Hello there, I'm Jeffrey Zimmerman, founder of Dripwerx Irrigation. I design custom irrigation systems of all sizes. Often when I talk to gardeners, they are unsure where to start when designing their first drip irrigation system. While you can buy a kit that includes "everything needed" you can often save money by only buying the components that you need for your specific garden! Read on as I guide you through all of the components you'll need to purchase when putting together an effective drip irrigation system! Please note: This guide is geared toward gardens that are less than half an acre, and have a water source being a faucet or hydrant. For larger gardens/farms, refer to the my post for larger setups. How to design a large drip irrigation system

For the gardener who prefers convenience. I have an Amazon link for each component you'll need.

But if you prefer to save money, there's a much better option than Amazon. There are 2 less known companies. Nolt's Produce Supplies, based out of PA or from Nolt's Midwest Produce Supplies based out of IA, if you are West of Ohio (both locations use the same item numbers. They don't take web orders, but they have an order form you can email to them or you can place your order with them via phone. They have almost unbeatable prices, but are geared towards commercial farmers. With this in mind, please use their order form when placing your order, they can't make a profit when someone calls them & spends 30 minutes on the phone asking questions & then places a $100 order!

I have listed the Nolt's item number for all of the components that this guide covers. To order from Nolt's, you'll need to download their PDF catalog from the links below & search for the item numbers I provide. You can then fill in their order forms using the item numbers & prices, & email them your order, or you can call them to order over the phone. If you do decide to call them, please be considerate of their time, & decide what you need before calling them to place your order.

While designing a drip irrigation system for a multi acre farm is somewhat complicated & requires quite a few calculations, a small system for a small garden, is really quite simple. I have made a list of what you'll need starting at your faucet! Let's get started!

Check Valve or Back Flow Preventer

A check valve is a crucial component for your system, it will prevent contaminated water that has been sitting in your irrigation lines from back feeding into your water supply. It should be installed directly between the faucet or water source & the next component of the system such as the timer, filter etc.

Recommended check valves & adapters:

3/4" brass check valve Nolt's item number: BSC007 $10 You'll also need to purchase the adapters listed below.

BGH1624 3/4" MPT x MHT adapter $2.50,

BGH1635 3/4" FPT x FHT adapter $3.55

S8N883005 3/4" TBE nipple $0.85


This item is actually optional. And that item is a battery powered water timer! While timers aren't a necessity, they are hugely useful! You don't have to remember to shut your system off after a few hours. A timer also saves you from that dreaded sight of water standing between your rows because you forgot to shut off the water!

Recommended timers:

DIG basic battery operated timer, Nolt's Item number DG9001D $40

DIG Bluetooth controlled battery powered timer, Nolt's item number DG900BT $50

This next component is mandatory, and this component is a screen filter. Even though your water source is likely to be city water or a rural well. There will still be tiny particles in your water that could potentially clog your drip tape emitters. A 150 mesh screen filter provides adequate filtration.

Recommended filter

DIG 7 GPM screen filter: Nolt's item number DGF007 $12

Fertilizer Injector

This is another optional item, however fertilizing your garden has many benefits, and your plants will generally do much better and will bring forth better yields if they are fertilized. Injecting fertilizer through your drip irrigation system is much easier than applying it by hand. There are two popular types of fertilizer injectors. The most common type of injector for drip tape is a Mazzei type injector. It operates by forcing some of the irrigation water through a section of plumbing containing a restrictor creating a vacuum which then draws fertilizer solution into the irrigation water. The Mazzei is the lowest cost injector and is very widely used. One thing to note, you will need at least 400' of standard flow drip tape to allow for enough of water flow to properly operate a Mazzei injector.

The 2nd less option is proportional injector such as a Chemilizer or Dosatron. They will inject fertilizer at a fixed ratio, (standard ratio is 1:100) This type of injector is very precise and will with very low water flows. They work with as little as 25' of standard drip tape. They are however, about twice as expensive as the Mazzei injector.

The complete Mazzei injectors are not sold on amazon, in fact I couldn't find any complete units online. you would need to buy them in parts and plumb everything together.

Nolt's does sell the complete unit for $148

item number MIC707

Here's a cool video showing how a Mazzei injector works!

Also, here's a good video if you want to DIY a Mazzei injector.

Chemilizer 1:100 ratio proportional injector,

Nolts item number: CPI12 $268

Dosatron 1:100 ratio proportional injector,

Nolt's item number: DOS11 $310

Pressure Regulator

Drip tape is designed to operate at 8-15 PSI pressure. Your typical faucet has between 30 and 60 PSI of pressure. That is easily enough pressure to rupture drip tape! A pressure regulator solves this issue, a 12 or 15 PSI garden hose thread regulator is going to be your best option:

Senninger 15 PSI, 0.1 - 8 GPM pressure regulator, hose thread ,

Nolt's item number: PR-007151 $8.75

Supply Line

You will need a hose or line to feed your drip tape. Also called header line, it is usually a polyethylene orchard tubing. It is flexible enough to easily route around corners, etc. but still strong enough to withstand a decent amount of wear & tear. Another reason to choose a softer, polyethylene material is that the adapters connecting drip tape to the orchard tubing have barbs & simply punch into the orchard tubing.

I simply can't link Amazon's tubing in good conscience. It is grossly overpriced! I have added a web link for the tubing from another irrigation supply store, and of course, the item number for Nolt's.

Toro 3/4" x100' orchard tubing Nolt's item number: BPT0071 $21

Drip Tape

Of course we don't have a drip irrigation system without drip tape! When irrigating a garden, 4" or 6" emitter spacing is used by default. I have listed a few good options for you. If you would like to get a bit more technical, you can match your drip tape to your soil type, crop, etc. Refer to my in depth guide: Choosing The Correct Drip Tape

Chapin 4" spacing 10 mil1000' roll, 1.0 GPM flow rate. Nolt's item number: CH-101041 $55

Chapin 4" spacing 10 mil 3000' roll, 1.0 GPM flow rate. Nolt's item number: CH-103 $106

Toro 6" spacing 8 mil 7,500' roll 0.67 GPM flow rate. Nolt's item number: AQ-080667 $173

Irritec P1 15 mil, 1,000' roll, (heavy wall multi year) 4" spacing, 1.1 GPM/100' flow rate (high flow)

Toro Aqua-Traxx 8 mil, 2,500' roll, (single season 4" spacing 1.0 GPM/100' flow rate (high flow)

Toro Aqua-Traxx 8 mil, 2,500' roll, (single season 8" spacing 1.0 GPM/100' flow rate (medium flow)

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