The Best Drip Irrigation Systems

The Best Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip Irrigation is a method of watering your garden using small amounts of water directly at the base of the plant to maximize water efficiency, conserve nutrients, and make sure your crops receive sufficient water.

The best drip irrigation systems create an easy way to set up a watering system that truly benefits your garden. There are several ways you can deliver drip irrigation to your garden, but purchasing a starter kit is a great option and you can always purchase additional parts once you know what you need and how the system works in your garden.

We resisted using drip irrigation for many years thinking it wasn’t worth the additional expense – it absolutely is worth every penny! Not only does it save you time, but it ensures that your plants get the water they need, when they need it in exactly the right place.

I also recommend you read our guide on Rainwater Management in the Garden as this outlines many methods you can use to manage water in your yard and garden.

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Best Drip Irrigation Systems and Kits at a Glance

Drip Irrigation System


Why We Like It

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This is great for a raised bed and comes in several sizes.


This is a small starter drip irrigation kit best for small gardens


This is an excellent, high quality choice for large gardens


A soaker hose is a great option for delivering water directly to the roots


Energy efficient and effective at keeping your containers watered

What is a drip irrigation System?

The best drip irrigation systems deliver water exactly where it is needed. The water trickles out right at the plant level. This has massive benefits for water conservation and also helps decrease erosion and loss of nutrients. And automatic watering system can also be used to regulate your watering meaning you can control how much and when to water your garden.

Most drip irrigation kits come with small drippers that send a little water out into the soil. You will also find soaker hoses that work in a similar manner but you may have less control over where the water is actually being directed.

Many of the best drip irrigation systems also come with small micro-sprayer attachments. You can combine the drip hoses with the sprayers in places you want a different watering method. An indoor plant watering system can operated in a similar fashion, but is only directed right at the container plant.

The benefits of a drip irrigation system

  • When it comes to water-conservation, the best drip irrigation systems excel by ensuring that every drop of water is used efficiently, making them a sustainable choice for environmentally conscious gardeners.
  • These systems not only provide less erosion and nutrient loss but also contribute to the preservation of vital soil microorganisms, fostering a healthier and more fertile soil ecosystem.
  • Achieving consistent watering with the best drip irrigation system means your plants will thrive, producing bountiful harvests or vibrant blooms throughout the growing season.
  • With fewer weeds to contend with, you can enjoy the beauty of your garden or farm without the constant battle against unwanted vegetation, thanks to the weed-reducing capabilities of top-notch drip irrigation setups.
  • Embracing the best drip irrigation system is a time-saving investment that frees up your schedule for other important gardening tasks or simply for relaxation in your lush and well-maintained green space.
  • The reduction of plant disease caused by overhead watering is a significant benefit of the best drip irrigation systems, ensuring your plants remain healthy and disease-free, even in challenging climates.

Other Options for Watering Your Garden

See my favorite gardening supplies for other ideas on watering and general equipment.

If you choose not to use drip irrigation in your garden, there are several other options for watering your garden. The easiest is to hand water with either a watering can or a garden hose. This is best for a small garden, or if you are trying to water plants that have different water needs that are dispersed around your yard.

The next option, especially for a large garden plot is to use a sprinkler. You can do this either with a sprinkler hose or a standard hose hooked up to a sprinkler. The biggest benefit is that you can easily move around the sprinkler to where it’s needed, but unlike the best drip irrigation systems listed below, there is water loss due to evaporation and you end up watering areas that don’t need watering. You can also used micro-sprinklers to more closely target your plants.

What to Look for in a Drip Irrigation System

When you are looking to purchase the best drip irrigation system for your backyard garden, there are few things to consider.

First you will want to make sure your system is big enough for your garden. The first year we set up a drip irrigation system, we didn’t get quite a big enough system and we tried to make it stretch. This meant there were spaces that didn’t get enough water and we ended up hand watering parts which defeated the purpose. In retrospect it would be better to completely cover one area with drip irrigation and leave another area that needed additional watering.

You will want to make sure your irrigation system is easy to assemble and either comes with, or you can purchase, replacement and expansion parts. This way you can expand your system as needed.

You will also want to decide whether you will put your irrigation system on a timer or turn it on when needed. You can purchase a timer to make a complete automatic watering system for outdoor plants. Even if you do this, it is important to adjust the timer depending on the weather, so you don’t waste water.

When you are selecting between the best drip irrigation systems, it’s important to consider what system works best in your specific set up. For raised bed irrigation you will want a self contained system and you will need to determine how to lay out your hoses between your raised beds. With our raised bed irrigation system, we buried the hoses in between the garden bed to avoid running the hose over with a lawnmower or wheelbarrow.

5 Best Drip Irrigation Kits

Here you can see the best options for a drip irrigation system.

Rainbird Drip Irrigation System

This is a relatively inexpensive drip irrigation system and a good starter system. It comes with serval different attachments so you can tailor the system to your needs. You can also purchase extra tubing and other supplies as needed. It works well for many different types of garden designs. This makes this kit the top of list of best drip irrigation systems.


Soaker Hose

A soaker hose is an excellent option for delivering water to the roots of your plants. The water leaks out of the hose directly into the soil. This hose is high quality and will last for years. It’s idea for planting that are in rows.

Irrigation-Mart Drip Tape System

This is a large drip irrigation system that includes 4,000 feet. It is an excellent choice for a large traditional garden with vegetables layed out in rows. I like it for the high quality and the ability to make this a fully automated system.

Solar Powered Irrigation System for Containers (inside or outside)

This automatic plant watering system – indoor or outdoor use, is an ideal system if you want to automate your watering. You can set this up near a window inside or use it on your patio or deck with your containers.

Setting up a Drip Irrigation System

Setting up a drip irrigation system can be done in just a few hours once you’ve collected your materials. Most kits are used with water from a faucet, but it is possible to run a drip irrigation system from a rain barrel but you will need to adjust for low flow. The higher the rain barrel is elevated, the stronger the flow. Here are some easy steps to setting up you drip irrigation system.

  • Connect your hose to your faucet
  • Lay out the tubing – you can draw out a plan or use trial and error
  • Install some ground stakes
  • Connect sprayers or drip tubes and place in the garden
  • Cover the tubes with mulch

What to Look for When Selecting a Drip Irrigation System

Water Source: Determine the source of your water supply, whether it’s a standard faucet, well, or rainwater harvesting system, as this will influence the type of drip irrigation system you can use.

Garden Size and Layout: Assess the size and layout of your garden or landscape to calculate the necessary length of tubing and number of emitters. Some systems are better suited for small gardens, while others are designed for larger areas.

Plant Types: Different plants have varying water requirements. Look for a system that allows you to customize water delivery to suit the specific needs of your plants, whether they are vegetables, flowers, or shrubs.

Water Pressure: Check your water pressure to ensure it’s compatible with the chosen drip irrigation system. Some systems require a minimum or maximum pressure for optimal performance.

Emitter Types: Consider the type of emitters (drippers or soaker hoses) that are compatible with the system and suitable for your plant spacing and soil type.

Automation and Timers: Decide if you want automation features such as timers and controllers to schedule watering times and durations. Automation can save time and ensure consistent watering.

Ease of Installation: Choose a system that matches your DIY skills. Some systems are more user-friendly for beginners, while others may require professional installation.

Durability and Materials: Look for components made from durable materials like UV-resistant plastics or polyethylene tubing to ensure longevity, especially if your system will be exposed to sunlight.

Filtration and Water Quality: Consider the water quality in your area and the need for filtration to prevent clogging of emitters. Systems with built-in filters can help maintain performance.

Maintenance: Evaluate the maintenance requirements of the system. Some systems may need periodic cleaning and maintenance, while others are relatively low-maintenance.

Cost: Determine your budget and choose a system that offers the features you need within your price range. Keep in mind that investing in a quality system upfront can save money in the long run.

Brand and Reviews: Research reputable brands and read customer reviews to get insights into the reliability and performance of specific drip irrigation systems.

Warranty: Check if the system comes with a warranty, which can provide peace of mind in case of defects or issues with the components.

Expandability: Consider whether you might want to expand your irrigation system in the future. Some systems are more easily expandable than others.

Complete Water Management System

Choosing from the best drip irrigation systems is just one part of creating a full water management system on your backyard farm. Reducing water use and conserving water is important, but by coupling this with collecting water in rain barrels or through the use of berms, you will double your impact.

To set up a rainwater management system, first consider what happens to the water when it falls on your property. Is there a way to collect water within the landscape? By slowing the water flow, more water will filter into the ground. Can you build berms or set up garden beds on a slope with levels to catch the water.

Once you’ve adapted your landscape, how can you collect rainwater for redistribution? Put in rain barrels, cisterns or ponds to help collect water. Finally, put in one of the best drip irrigation systems listed above to keep your plants watered.

Read more about Rainwater Management in the Garden for the biggest benefit.

The Best Drip Irrigation Systems
The Best Drip Irrigation Systems

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