The average cost to install a drip irrigation system is $350, and most residential systems cost between $200 and $850
When it comes to drip irrigation prices, budget for anything between $20 to $4,000 based on factors like materials, labor, location, and more. Drip irrigation is one of the most water-efficient ways to keep your landscaping vibrant and hydrated. By delivering water evenly and slowly at ground level, evaporation and high water bills will fizzle out.
But drip irrigation system installation costs can vary, so keep reading to discover how much it may cost to add a system to your garden.
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Drip Irrigation Prices
Drip irrigation can cost anywhere from $0.50 to $3 per square foot, depending on the type of drip system you choose. Anticipate spending more for larger, subsurface drip irrigation systems and less for smaller, above-ground drip systems.
|Drip Irrigation System Type||Low Cost (per sq. ft.)||High Cost (per sq. ft.)|
What Are the Components of a Drip Irrigation System?
There is some variation among consumer kits and bespoke agricultural systems, but every drip irrigation setup features some essential components:
Valve: The valve lets you turn the water flow on and off manually, but typically also includes a timer that you can set for automatic operation.
Backflow preventer: As the name describes, the backflow preventer wards off reverse flow so that the clean water does not become contaminated.
Pressure regulator: The pressure regulator maintains the steady flow of water.
Filter: The filter keeps debris and sediment from entering the water supply.
Tubing adapter: This piece connects the actual drip tube to the filters and controls near the valve.
Tubing (or drip lines): The tubing delivers the water from the valve to your plants.
Drip tape: Gardeners with an above-ground drip irrigation system may opt to use a drip tape product to deliver the water to their plant beds.
Fittings: When connecting tubing to itself and a water source, the right fitting is important if you want to make the most efficient use of water.
Emitters/drippers: Water flows from the tubing to the plant roots through these plastic fittings.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Drip Irrigation?
Drip irrigation installation prices vary widely, depending on the system's complexity, the size of your yard, and the number of plants it covers. At the lowest end, you can buy and install a soaker hose yourself for as little as $22.
If, on the other hand, you want to hydrate an average-sized lawn with professional-quality subsurface drip irrigation, expect to pay between $450 and $625.
The total cost depends on the type and extent of the system—and whether you handle the installation yourself or hire a professional.
Soaker hoses, long hoses with pores that emit water in a slow, steady volume, offer the simplest, least-expensive form of residential drip irrigation. Standard models with 100 feet of tubing cost an average of $22 and do not require professional installation.
Above-Ground Drip Irrigation Kit
Unless your garden is particularly large or complex, above-ground systems sold in full kits meet most homeowners’ drip irrigation needs. Costs vary depending on the size of your garden bed.
|1/16 acre||$80 – $160|
|1/8 acre||$415 – $520|
|1/4 acre||$600 – $750|
Depending on the number of risers and the quality of materials, expect to pay between $13 and $90. If your yard already has an in-ground sprinkler, you can buy a kit to convert it to a drip irrigation system rather than install a whole new one from scratch.
For a kit that includes fittings for 60 plants, expect to pay between $75 and $140. Drip irrigation works well in settings other than full outdoor gardens. There are drip irrigation kits with individual fittings designed for single plants.
Roses and Shrubs
There are also kits specially designed to hydrate rose bushes and shrubs efficiently. Depending on size, these kits cost between $65 and $250.
Subsurface Drip Irrigation
When used in commercial agriculture, drip irrigation installation happens beneath the soil. Homeowners who want to hydrate their whole lawn using drip irrigation may opt for the same approach. The average cost to install such a system depends on the acreage of your yard.
|1/4 acre||$450 – $600|
|1/2 acre||$900 – $1,250|
|1 acre||$1,800 – $2,500|
|2 acres||$3,600 – $5,000|
Drip Irrigation Installation Cost Factors
Several decisions can impact the total price to install a drip irrigation system, including the type of installation, the quality of your materials, the density of the property, and even when you install your system.
Subsurface vs. Above-Ground Drip Irrigation Systems
Subsurface farm irrigation systems cost $1,000 to $2,000 more to install than above-ground drip systems. This price disparity boils down to the cost of installing the irrigation system’s tubes below ground.
Installing a subsurface drip system involves digging a 12- to 16-inch trench and generally requires a professional, as it is a labor-intensive job that uses specialized equipment.
Drip Irrigation Materials
Not all materials are created equal, and this is true when it comes to your drip irrigation system. The most durable types of piping for drip irrigation are PVC tubing and low-density polyethylene (poly) tubing.
Which one is best for your home depends on where you live and your micro-environment. For example, polyethylene is resistant to cold temperatures, mold, and flames, while PVC is resistant to acidic soils.
The cost of PVC piping varies from $0.50 to $1 per linear foot, while the cost of poly piping ranges from $0.40 to $2 per linear foot, making PVC slightly more budget-friendly than poly piping.
The type of soil and landscape also impact the cost of your project. If you have rocky soil, trees with expansive roots, and dense shrubs, the installation process will take significantly longer than installing a drip system in a yard with sparse coverage, loam soil, and minimal obstacles. As such, you’ll want to set aside a larger budget to accommodate denser properties.
The prime time for installing a drip irrigation system is fall. You might save on the cost of your installation by hiring a pro during this time of year, as many homeowners plan to install new systems during the spring and early summer. Some companies may decrease costs by up to 5% to incentivize homeowners to shop off-season.
Before you hire your installer, it’s a good idea to hire a land surveyor near you to inspect your land and advise you on how to proceed with more complicated projects.
You may need to clear out space to lay the irrigation system. For example, installing a subsurface drip system includes the cost to dig a trench, which adds between $4 and $12 on average.
You’ll pay between $50 and $100 per hour to hire a professional to install your irrigation system. Some complex underground installations can take up to 16 hours to install, while other simpler, above-ground systems may take just an hour.
Where you live also impacts drip irrigation system prices. Residential homes in urban areas with higher costs of living may charge around 30% more to install drip irrigation compared to residential homes in more rural areas.
Cost to Install Drip Irrigation Yourself
If you plan to install an above-ground drip system, you can easily DIY the job by purchasing a simple drip irrigation kit at your local home improvement store. These kits can cost as little as $20 per 100 linear feet.
Cost to DIY Drip Irrigation Installation vs. Hiring a Pro
If you hire an irrigation system professional in your area or local handyperson to install your above-ground drip irrigation kit, the labor costs fall between $150 and $300 for the whole job.
However, most of the kits available for residential usage make for an easy DIY installation. Putting in a full subsurface drip irrigation set-up is a job best left to the pros.
Cost of Common Add-On Projects
While you’re at it, a drip irrigation project goes hand-in-hand with other projects around the yard that are perfect for stepping up your yard’s game. Many landscape and irrigation specialists are happy to offer a more comprehensive package as a part of their services.
Below are a few common add-ons to do at the same time as your drip irrigation installation.
Lawn fertilization cost: $200–$500
Lawn aeration cost: $80–$175
Lawn maintenance cost: $50–$200
How to Save Money Installing a Drip Irrigation System
Everyone likes a bargain, and, depending on how you go about your drip irrigation system, you can find ways to save on the total cost of a frugal installation.
Check out these tips on how to save on drip irrigation prices:
Choose an above-ground drip irrigation system.
Decrease the square footage of your installation space.
Opt for PVC as your piping material.
DIY your installation with a soaker hose.
Plan for an off-season installation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Drip irrigation systems may add value to homes. If the system is correctly installed with high-quality materials and a strong design, then you could see an increase in your home’s value. However, if the system has a poor design, incorrect installation, and poor-quality materials, you could actually see a decrease in your home’s property value.
Expect a drip irrigation system to last between 10 and 15 years. How long your system will last depends on the condition of your property, the quality of the irrigation system and installation, and how well you maintain your irrigation system. Unlike traditional sprinkler systems—which can last up to 50 years—drip systems use thin piping that is susceptible to UV damage and the elements, significantly decreasing their lifespans.
By delivering water directly to the roots, drip irrigation keeps plants healthier with less fertilizer and less H2O. Without losing water to evaporation or runoff, drip irrigation cuts necessary water usage by as much as 30% to 50%. Drip irrigation also supplies water at a consistent rate, which keeps plants healthier by relieving them of damaging stress and allowing them to grow faster, all while reducing the growth of weeds. Maybe best of all, by operating continuously and automatically, it saves you the labor of regular watering.
Drip irrigation is best and most commonly used for plant beds, containers, greenhouses, and row crops. Unless you’re building a home and landscaping from scratch, installing subsurface drip irrigation is going to be costly and time-consuming.
You can’t install such a system in a yard with tree roots; ultimately, the expenses of yard preparation and installation will dwarf the savings unless your yard is unusually shaped or difficult to water. An above-surface solution, like a soaker hose, is a more viable option. However, it can create tripping hazards and pose safety issues while using a lawn mower and other machinery.