How Much Does It Cost to Install a Drip Irrigation System?

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated March 16, 2022
yellow flowers in home garden with drip irrigation
Photo: natalialeb / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • For homeowners, simple, low-cost options start as low as $22.

  • More elaborate above-ground kits cost $80–$750.

  • Professional level subsurface drip irrigation costs $450–$625.

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A drip irrigation system can be a godsend for the avid home gardener. Adapted from professional agricultural practices in arid climates, drip irrigation offers a means of keeping soil hydrated with less daily effort than hose watering and lower costs than a traditional sprinkler system. Drip irrigation is also remarkably efficient—with the average system wasting less than 10 percent of the water used. How much will it set you back to purchase and install one in your backyard?

How Much Does It Cost to Install Drip Irrigation?

The cost to install drip irrigation at home varies 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 all of 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 Hose

Soaker hoses offer the simplest, least expensive form of residential drip irrigation. Essentially a long hose with pores that emit water in a slow, steady volume, standard models with 50 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.

SizeCost
1/16 acre$80 – $160
1/8 acre$415 – $520
1/4 acre$600 – $750

Sprinkler Conversion

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. 

Individual Plants

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.

SizeCost
¼ acre$450 – $600
½ acre$900 – $1,250
1 acre$1,800 – $2,500
2 acres$3,600 – $5,000

Cost to DIY Drip Irrigation Installation vs. Hiring a Pro

man installing water irrigation system in garden
Photo: FotoHelin / Adobe Stock

If you hire a local irrigation system professional or handyperson near you to install your above-ground drip irrigation kit, expect to pay between $150 and $300 for the whole job—though 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.

Drip Irrigation Installation Questions and Answers

What are the components of a drip irrigation system?

There is some variation among different kits and between 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 supplied to your plants.

  • 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.

What are the advantages of drip irrigation? 

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 as much as 30% to 50%. Supplying water at a consistent rate, it also keeps plants healthier, relieving them of damaging stress, making them grow more quickly at the same time as it reduces the growth of weeds. Maybe best of all, by operating continuously and automatically, it saves you the labor of regular watering. 

Can I water my whole lawn using drip irrigation?

Drip irrigation is best and most commonly used for plant beds, containers, greenhouses, and row crops. You may wonder if you can use it to replace a sprinkler system or regular hose watering on your grass lawn. It’s certainly possible—and offers the benefits of automatic operation and efficient, precise watering—but it can pose some difficulties. 

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 any yard with tree roots; ultimately, the expenses of preparing your yard and installing the system will dwarf the water savings unless your yard is unusually shaped or otherwise 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 lawnmower and other machinery.

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