There’s no denying that drip irrigation is a more water-efficient option than sprinklers. So, if you want to cut down on your water wastage, and you already have irrigation heads present in the plant bed, you’re in luck. You don’t need to start from scratch; instead, you can connect a drip line to your current sprinklers.
To connect a drip line to your sprinkler system, dig out all the sprinkler heads and choose the one you want to convert into a drip system. Attach a conversion adapter to the sprinkler head and then attach a ½-inch polyethylene as the drip line. Finally, install emitters and connectors.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can connect a drip line to your sprinklers — and whether it’s a good idea to do so in the first place. We’ll also look at how you can convert the sprinkler line into a drip irrigation line.
Can a Drip Line Connect to Your Sprinklers?
While you can connect a drip line to your sprinklers, doing so can be quite inefficient. This is because drip irrigation allows the water to flow out across the tubing, but sprinkler systems require some pressure build-up to work properly.
Extending the sprinklers with a drip line placed at the wrong point can lead to additional pressure loss, which may prevent the remaining sprinklers from working properly.
Plus, you won’t be able to control how much water is reaching your plants and lawn since you won’t be able to see how much is going to them in the first place. You’ll only be able to see the water once it comes out of the sprinkler.
This is why it’s better to convert the existing sprinkler line to a drip irrigation line.
How to Convert Your Sprinkler Line Into a Drip Irrigation Line
Converting an existing sprinkler line into a drip irrigation line is quite easy and simple. However, you must make sure that all the steps are properly followed otherwise, you might damage the sprinkler system. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Locate the Sprinkler Heads
Find where the sprinkler heads are in your yard and dig the dirt present around each. Once you’ve found them all and dug up the dirt, choose which sprinkler head you want to convert into a drip system. You can determine this by keeping in mind the location of the sprinklers as well as the location of the plants that you want to water using the drip line.
2. Put a Cap Over the Unused Sprinkler Heads
Once you choose the sprinkler head that you want to transform, cap off the other heads to prevent water from coming out of them. To do so, you just need a cap that you can screw in place of the head. When doing so, be careful of the time of the year.
If you have freezing winters, and you need to blow out the pipes of your sprinkler system, it’s better if you cap off the line not being used. Of course, this will also depend on the location of the sprinkler system and the location of the sprinkler head that you’ll convert to a drip line.
If you’re planning to cap the unused sprinkler head one by one and by hand, it’s better to install an automatic drain valve or king drain like this one from Orbit (on Amazon). If installed properly, you won’t need to blow out the sprinklers every year.
3. Attach the Conversion Adapter to the Sprinkler
Once the unused heads are capped off, the next thing you need to do is install a ½-inch adapter that’ll convert the sprinkler head into a drip line. Make sure that no debris or dirt enters the opened sprinkler head while you install the adapter; otherwise, it could clog the system.
And as an extra precaution, flush the system so that you get rid of anything that might have made its way in.
Make sure that the water pressure regulator and filter are in place so that the system works perfectly. Without the regulator, your whole sprinkler can be damaged, and it can even affect the amount of water your plants receive, causing them to dry or drown.
4. Connect the Hose and Adapter
Take a ½-inch polyethylene hose (on Amazon) that can fit into the sprinkler head. Despite what many might suggest, avoid using perforated drip lines since it’s hard to control the amount of water that’s released. Once you attach the hose, lay it around the plants and use stakes to keep it in position.
Make sure you consider the distance between the hose and the plants that you need to water and any yard work that you might need to do in the future. Plus, make sure you don’t lay out the hose where mowing will take place.
Once you have the hose in place, cap off the end of the hose to prevent the water from leaving and drowning the plants present at that end while drying out the others.
5. Install Connectors and Emitters
While wearing personal protective gear, install emitters into the hose where it reaches the base of your plants, either by pushing the emitter’s pointed end into the hose or by using a hole-punching device. Once you insert all the emitters, insert a double-barbed connector into the emitter. This will help to control the water pressure emitted from the hose to the connector.
How Much Water Pressure Is Required for Drip Irrigation?
You need around 25 psi for drip irrigation (in comparison, sprinklers need up to 30 psi); however, if the pressure is lower than what’s required, it won’t really cause a lot of trouble.
Drip Irrigation vs. Sprinkler: Which Is Better?
Both drip irrigation and sprinklers are great options for watering the flower beds and the lawn, but the right one for you depends on three things: your preference, your lawn’s slope, and where you live.
Drip irrigation directs water to the roots of the flowers and grass on your lawn and is usually placed near flowerbeds. Plus, since the system is underground instead of on top of the soil, the water doesn’t evaporate too quickly.
If you live somewhere with extremely hot weather throughout most of the year, you’ll benefit more from a drip line. The low evaporation rate will also help conserve more water compared to a sprinkler.
However, if your garden is slanted towards the house, sprinklers are the better option. This is because even if the drip line is level, the water can flow towards the house and compromise the foundation.
And finally, you’ll need to use sprinklers almost every day, while drip irrigation systems will be used every 1-3 weeks. Overall, both are great and ensure that your lawn and plants thrive. So it’s up to you to decide which one you want to use. But one thing is clear: you shouldn’t use both together.