The Q&A Archives: Converting Sprinkle System to Drip System

Question: I took out the lawn and planted trees, shrubs and perennials, so the sprinklers no longer reach all areas of my yard.

Are there drip irrigation heads that I can replace my sprinkler heads with? If so, what other supplies do I need to make the system work?

I would like to purchase all necessary supplies in a single shopping spree.

Answer: Understanding that the fundamental difference between spray and drip irrigation systems usually is merely the presence or absence of a pressure regulator and a filter, there are two general ways to convert a high-pressure, high-flow spray system to a low-pressure, low-flow drip system:

1) installation of master filtration and master pressure reduction just before or just after the drip irrigation valves, using standard drip irrigation equipment; or

2) using specially manufactured equipment at each riser, which reduces pressure and separates the flow of water into individual drip lines. (the least expensive)

The first strategy, using standard equipment, requires you to install a master valve, regulator and filter in the mainline upstream of the valves; or one master valve upstream of the valves with a filter and regulator downstream of each individual irrigation valve. On drip systems, you must use a master valve ahead of the irrigation valves because drip irrigation filters do not last long under constant pressure.

To retrofit your system, you can pick up a brochure at your local Home Depot which will explain each and every part needed. It should be a simple job, but the parts you will need really depend upon your current system.

Best wishes with your project!

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