Ashburn, VA

How much does a drip irrigation system cost to install?

$1.50 – $4.50 per square foot
$300 – $1,200 per zone
$500 – $4,000 per acre

A drip irrigation system costs $1.50 to $4.50 per square foot or $300 to $1,200 per zone installed for above ground drip lines. Subsurface drip line installation costs $1,000 to $4,000 per acre on average. DIY drip irrigation kit prices are $15 to $480, depending on the area covered.

Get free estimates from drip irrigation installers near you or view our cost guide below.

Reviewed and approved on June 15, 2021, by Tom Grupa and 4 expert drip irrigation installers on HomeGuide.

Drip irrigation system cost

Drip irrigation system installation costs $300 to $1,200 per zone or $500 to $3,000 per acre for above ground drip lines. Subsurface irrigation costs $1,000 to $4,000 per acre and is common on farms. Installing drip irrigation to an existing sprinkler system costs $300 to $1,200 per zone.

Drip irrigation system cost - chart
Drip irrigation system cost - chart

Drip irrigation system cost
Metric Average cost
Per square foot $1.50 – $4.50
Per square foot (DIY) $0.50 – $1.00
Per zone $300 – $1,200
Per acre $500 – $4,000
DIY kit $15 – $480

*All prices including materials and installation, except DIY kits.

Drip irrigation cost calculator

Drip irrigation cost calculator
National average cost $1,600
Minimum cost $200
Maximum cost $4,000
Average range $500 to $3,000

*Based on 45 project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

Get free estimates from irrigation companies near you. View Pros

Average cost of drip irrigation system

The following table shows the average price to install a drip line by system type:

Drip irrigation system cost per acre - chart
Drip irrigation system cost per acre - chart

Average cost of drip irrigation system
System type Cost per acre
Above ground $500 – $3,000
Subsurface $1,000 – $4,000

Subsurface drip irrigation cost

Subsurface drip irrigation costs $1,000 to $4,000 per acre installed. Subsurface systems distribute water through buried drip lines and work on slopes but not in heavily treed areas. Subsurface irrigation is common for farms and gaining popularity for lawns due to its water and energy conservation benefits.

Subsurface drip irrigation system installation
Subsurface drip irrigation system installation

Subsurface systems are easier to install before laying down a new lawn. New sod installation costs $0.90 to $1.80 per square foot.

Above ground drip irrigation prices

Above ground drip irrigation costs $300 to $1,200 per zone or $1.50 to $4.50 per square foot installed. Above ground systems are ideal for residential gardens and irregularly shaped landscapes. Above ground drip lines may sit on the ground or under a layer of mulch.

Drip irrigation line up close in residential garden
Drip irrigation line up close in residential garden

Drip irrigation zones and sizes

The following factors determine the size and number of zones needed:

  • Water pressure and water flow rate
  • Watering needs of different plants
  • Dripline type
  • Total watering area size

Small residential drip irrigation systems may work with one zone using emitters with different flow rates.

Above ground drip systems are more manageable than subsurface systems because checking lines or replacing parts requires no digging.

Lawn drip irrigation vs. agricultural and farm system prices

Lawn drip irrigation costs $0.50 to $4.50 per square foot, depending on the coverage area, system type, quality of components, and whether it's DIY or professionally installed. Farm irrigation systems cost $1,000 to $7,000 per acre to install and cover a much larger area for agriculture.

Drip irrigation system and emitters installation in flower bed
Drip irrigation system and emitters installation in flower bed

Foundation drip system cost

Foundation drip systems cost $1.50 to $4.50 per linear foot installed. Installing a DIY foundation drip system costs $70 to $140 for an average 2,500-square-foot home and requires minimal parts and labor. Soaker hoses cost $0.25 to $0.60 per linear foot but may result in uneven watering.

Foundations typically only need watering in dry climates with clay soil, where soil expansion and contraction may cause foundation damage.

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Cost factors to install a drip irrigation system

The following factors affect the cost to install a drip irrigation system:

  • Area size – Larger areas require more parts and longer installation time.
  • Landscape shape and condition – Uneven ground and excessive tree roots add complexity and increase installation time.
  • Soil type – Rocky and sandy soils may make installation more labor-intensive depending on the type of drip system installed.
  • Type of plants – Plants with different hydration needs may require separate zones.
  • Material quality and system components – Higher quality parts, smart timers, and rain sensors increase the cost but improve the system's longevity.
  • New vs. existing landscape – Installing a new drip irrigation system may cost twice as much as modifying an existing system.
  • Season – Some landscapers offer reduced rates during their slower months.
  • Tax incentives and rebates – Many cities offer incentives to offset the cost of drip irrigation to encourage water conservation.
  • Water source – City water, groundwater, and surface water require different levels of filtration.

Landscaper installing drip irrigation system in residential planter bed
Landscaper installing drip irrigation system in residential planter bed

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Drip irrigation cost per square foot

Above ground drip irrigation costs $1.50 to $4.50 per square foot, depending on the number and type of plants, landscape shape and condition, and amount of automation required. Pros typically charge per acre instead of per square foot for subsurface irrigation systems.

Drip irrigation system cost per acre

Subsurface irrigation costs $1,000 to $4,000 per acre, and is more common for farms. Above ground drip irrigation costs $500 to $3,000 per acre. Subsurface and drip irrigation allows farms and lawns to maximize crop growth while improving water-use efficiency and reducing energy bills.

Drip irrigation prices per acre
Acres Average cost
¼ $125 – $1,000
½ $250 – $2,000
1 $500 – $4,000
2 $1,000 – $8,000
5 $2,500 – $20,000
10 $5,000 – $40,000

Cost to install drip irrigation to an existing sprinkler system

Adding drip irrigation to an existing sprinkler system costs $300 to $1,200 per zone, depending on whether the drip system uses existing zones or requires new zones. DIY sprinkler conversion kits cost $12 to $50. Converting zones near plants to drip irrigation minimizes disease, weed growth, and evaporation.

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Drip irrigation system price list

The following list of items is typically required to install a drip irrigation system:

Drip irrigation system price list
Item Price range
Kits $15 – $480
2-way faucet splitter $3 – $10
Backflow preventer $3 – $6
Barbed fittings: tees, elbows, connectors, adapters (10-pack) $5 – $11
Drip line tubing (50') $11 – $22
Drippers/Emitters (10-pack) $2 – $10
Goof plugs (10-pack) $0.50 – $1.50
Hold-down stakes (10-pack) $1 – $5
Hole punch (push punch or palm punch) $1 – $9
Hole punch (squeeze punch) $10 – $26
Irrigation filter $8 – $20
Mainline distribution tubing (100') – 1/4" $5 – $15
Mainline distribution tubing (100') – 1/2" $10 – $25
Pressure regulator $5 – $20
Timer (basic / analog) $25 – $100
Timer (smart / wifi-enabled) $70 – $300
Tubing cutter $9 – $24
Tubing end cap $0.30 – $3
Utility box $12 – $30

Jain Drip Irrigation cost

Jain Irrigation Systems supplies drip irrigation systems and agricultural products from India to the United States. Contact Jain Irrigation Systems for a custom quote for drip irrigation.

Drip irrigation lateral pipes cost

Lateral drip irrigation pipes cost $0.10 to $0.38 per linear foot for the parts or $1.50 to $4.50 per linear foot installed. In subsurface drip irrigation, the lateral lines emit water to the plant roots.

Class 200 PVC pipe and standard polyethylene irrigation tubing are sufficient for drip irrigation lateral pipes because the pressure regulator precedes them in the line.

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DIY drip irrigation system cost

DIY drip irrigation systems cost $0.50 to $1.00 per square foot depending on the number of plants, size and shape of the landscape, and amount of automation desired.

Tips for DIY installation:

  • Set tubing in the sun first to increase its flexibility.
  • Use vinyl tubing around tight curves and more durable polyethylene tubing for other areas.
  • Keep the combined length of mains and laterals under 400 feet.
  • Use a backflow preventer to avoid contaminating the home's water.
  • Group plants by their watering needs.
  • Use pressure regulating valves when watering plants and shrubs with different needs.
  • Adjust emitters to a slow trickle for clay soils. Increase the emitter flow for sandy soils.

Drip irrigation system kit prices

Drip irrigation system kit prices are $15 to $480, depending on the number of plants, amount of square footage watered, type of drip system, and components included. Not all drip irrigation kits are all-inclusive.

Drip irrigation system kit prices
Kit type Kit size Coverage area Price range
Garden bed and landscape Small 50 – 100 square feet $30 – $70
Medium 101 – 280 square feet $45 – $110
Large 281 – 700 square feet $55 – $250
Deck and patio Small 8 – 20 plants $15 – $35
Medium 21 – 60 plants $45 – $80
Large 61 – 280 plants $115 – $280
Drip tape row crop Small 4 – 10 rows $70 – $260
Medium 11 – 20 rows $125 – $300
Large 21 – 40 rows $400 – $480
Before DIY, compare quotes from professional installers. View Pros

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Drip irrigation pros and cons

Drip irrigation pros and cons
Pros Cons
  • Saves water and fertilizer by applying it right where the plant needs it
  • Saves time with automated watering
  • Saves energy and money with low-pressure and low-volume delivery
  • Reduces risk of fungal and disease growth by preventing excess water accumulation
  • Makes it easy to introduce new plants
  • Accommodates odd-shaped landscapes with flexible tubing
  • More effective than sprinklers at watering plants growing on slopes
  • Reduces weed growth by watering only the plants
  • Increases crop yields through optimal watering
  • Initial setup cost
  • Water filter required
  • Regular monitoring required
  • Potential clogging without proper maintenance
  • Risk of pipe damage from rodents
  • Potential tripping hazard without proper staking
  • Difficult to quickly spot problems
  • Replacement of parts needed over time
  • Risk of stressed plants if the system fails

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What is drip irrigation?

Drip irrigation is a system of flexible tubing used to carry water and fertilizer through emitters, or drippers, directly to the plant base or root zone. Drip irrigation uses low-pressure and low-volume delivery, conserving water and encouraging healthy plant growth while reducing pest issues, weeds, and disease.

  • Surface irrigation lays above ground or just beneath it and works well for non-grassy areas like gardens and flower beds.
  • Subsurface (SDI) irrigation is an underground, permanent system typically used for row crops and growing in popularity for residential use to irrigate lawns.
Drip systems are also called trickle irrigation or micro-irrigation. Drip irrigation works well for backyard landscaping, vegetable gardens, shade gardens, vertical gardens, perennial borders, hedges, turf, planters, trees, and green walls.

Why is drip irrigation more efficient?

Drip irrigation is more efficient because it applies water directly to the plants' roots or base, resulting in little to no water loss from evaporation, wind, or runoff. Drip irrigation systems are 90% to 95% efficient, while traditional sprinklers are only 50% to 70% efficient.

Why is drip irrigation expensive?

Some drip irrigation systems are 200% to 300% more expensive than sprinkler systems due to the parts and labor required. Still, the increased efficiency, crop yield, and reduced water consumption saves money over time.

How much water does a drip irrigation system use?

Drip irrigation emitters produce ½ gallon to 4 gallons of water per hour directly to the soil.

How much water does drip irrigation save?

Drip irrigation saves 30% to 70% more water than a traditional sprinkler system.

Can drip irrigation be buried?

Drip irrigation can be buried underground or staked down and covered with mulch. Pipes carrying water to emitter lines can be buried up to 12" deep for PVC or 6" deep for poly tubing. Only subsurface emitter lines can be buried. Burying above-ground tubing may lead to clogs and rodent damage.

Do irrigation systems add value to a home?

A professionally installed irrigation system adds value to a home. An irrigation system maintains curb appeal and conveys convenience and low maintenance to potential home buyers.

Do you need a permit to install a drip irrigation system?

Irrigation permits cost $35 to $200, and most cities require them during new construction or when the project exceeds certain square footage. Some cities also require a backflow prevention system, inspection, and plan review. Check state and local regulations to confirm the current requirements.

The backflow preventer blocks contaminated water from entering the clean water supply.

How do I maintain my drip irrigation system?

Sprinkler repair services follow these steps to maintain a drip irrigation system:

Weekly

  • Check the soil to confirm the proper distribution of moisture.
  • Confirm the timer is functioning correctly.

Monthly

  • Check and clean the filter.
  • Confirm each valve and emitter are working correctly by physically walking the entire line with the system running.

Seasonally

  • Drain lines in the fall to avoid damage from freezing temperatures.
  • Flush the system in the spring to remove any accumulated debris.

When should I use soaker hoses vs. drip irrigation?

Soaker hoses work well on level ground for long hedges, small gardens, and raised beds but seep water from the entire hose, making installation simple but imprecise. Drip irrigation installation is more complex but creates plant-focused watering and is ideal for more extensive gardens and row crops.

In contrast, a sprinkler system is suitable for large areas and spreads water in widespread ranges resulting in more water loss. A sprinkler system costs $1,800 to $5,200 to install on average.

Still have questions? Ask a irrigation pro. View Pros

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Getting drip irrigation system cost estimates

Before hiring a drip irrigation installer and signing a contract, remember to:

  • Get at least three estimates to compare.
  • Look for experts with experience installing above ground drip irrigation or subsurface irrigation.
  • Select a pro who is certified by the Irrigation Association.
  • Ask for references and check out their similar completed projects.
  • Browse their reviews on HomeGuide, Google, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business for more than five years.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Pay attention to materials listed when comparing bids. Some landscapers may use a lower-quality pipe to reduce the total cost.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead for work completed.

Questions to ask

  • Do you recommend an above ground or subsurface system for my needs, and why?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Which irrigation certifications do you have?
  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • What is and is not included in the installation fee?
  • What additional costs should I expect?
  • How long will the installation take?
  • How long is the warranty, and what does it cover?
  • What kind of regular maintenance will my new system require?
  • What do you charge for a yearly maintenance check?
  • What do you charge for repairs?

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