How Much Does Drip Irrigation Cost in 2023?

The average cost of a residential drip irrigation system is $490, with most homeowners paying $295 to $775 for drip irrigation.

The average cost of a residential drip irrigation system is $490, with most homeowners paying $295 to $775 for drip irrigation installation. Residential drip irrigation systems typically include one watering zone that supports a 100 – 275 square foot garden, so expect to pay about $2.80 per square foot.

Drip irrigation is an eco-friendly way to hydrate flower beds and gardens. The secret to drip irrigation’s success is a steady stream of water that targets the plants’ root zone. There are many benefits to installing a drip irrigation system that are worth exploring. 

In this cost guide:

Average drip irrigation costs in 2023

National average cost$490
Typical price range$295 – $775
Extreme low-end cost$50
Extreme high-end cost$3,000

Although most homeowners pay $295 – $775 for drip irrigation installation, some systems can cost as much as $3,000, and some low-cost DIY kits are $50 or less. However, because drip irrigation reduces water use, you may see a decrease in your monthly water bill. 

Drip irrigation cost estimator by garden size

Although drip watering systems can support lawns, most residential systems supply water to gardens, and drip irrigation installation costs $2.00 to $4.35 per square foot

National average cost$2.80 / sq ft
Typical price range$1.60 – $4.00 / sq ft

The table below shows the typical cost by garden size.

Garden sizeTypical cost
50 square feet$80 – $200
100 square feet$160 – $400
200 square feet$320 – $800

However, if you have a large area in need of drip irrigation, most pros charge $500 to $2,900 per acre. The more acres you need irrigated, the lower the price per acre. 

Other factors that affect cost

Other than garden or lawn size, here are the other factors that go into pricing for drip irrigation:

Type of system

Drip irrigation system costs depend on the type of system you choose. Please see the average prices by system type below. 

System typeTypical Cost
Above-ground$225 – $2,000 / water zone
Subsurface$815 – $4,335 / acre
Sprinkler conversion$300 – $1,200 / water zone
Foundation drip$1.50 – $4.75 / linear foot

Above-ground vs. subsurface irrigation:

  • Above-ground (i.e. surface irrigation) drip systems work well for residential vegetable gardens and raised beds. Expect to pay $223 – $2,000 per watering zone.
  • Subsurface drip irrigation systems are best for lawns and large areas of crops. Expect to pay about $815 – $4,335 per acre for in-ground drip irrigation. 

Sprinkler conversion:

  • You can convert water zones of in-ground sprinkler systems to drip irrigation zones.
  • Expect to pay $300 – $1,200 per irrigation zone for a sprinkler conversion.

Foundation drip irrigation:

  • Foundation drip systems typically cost $1.50 – $4.75 per linear foot.
  • In dry climates, foundation drip systems are used to moisten clay soil and keep it from expanding and contracting. 

Water zones

Most homeowners install drip irrigation in one watering zone. However, if you are connecting multiple zones to a drip irrigation system, expect to pay an additional $250 – $775 per zone.

How many water zones do I need? A watering zone is a section of your yard that gets its water supply from the same valve. Additional zones are needed because of water pressure restrictions and differences in watering needs. To estimate the number of water zones in your garden, consider the following:

  • How much water pressure can you use at once?
  • What is the water flow rate of the system’s emitters?
  • Can you adjust the flow rate of separate emitters?
  • How long is the drip line?

Quality of parts

Higher-quality parts typically cost more, so expect to pay a higher upfront cost for high-quality drip irrigation systems. However, higher-quality parts last longer and require fewer repairs. Please see the typical cost of drip irrigation system components in the table below.

PartTypical price
Adapter $3.50 – $9.50
Backflow preventer$4 – $6.50
Connector$4.50 – $13.50
Drip tubing$15 – $40
Drippers / emitters  (10 pack)$5 – $10
Mainline distribution tubing (100 ft.)$13 – $45
Pressure regulator$7 – $20
Sensors$20 – $150
Tubing end cap$1 – $3.50
Valve$4 – $60

What do the components of a drip irrigation system do?

  • Adapter fittings convert pipe thread to hose thread fittings, which is essential for your system’s efficiency. 
  • Backflow preventers ensure water only passes through the system in one direction, preventing the contamination of clean water. 
  • Drip tubing is made out of polyethylene, and it is responsible for getting water to the vegetation. 
  • Drip tape dispenses water in some surface drip irrigation systems. 
  • Drippers/emitters control the amount of water dispensed to the plant roots and the water’s flow rate.  
  • Mainline distribution tubing works with pumps to circulate water through the system. 
  • Pressure regulators reduce water pressure so the system can dispense a slow and steady water flow. 
  • Rain or moisture sensors conserve water and protect your garden from over-watering.
  • Valves turn the water on and off. Many valves are attached to a timer that automates the system. 

Type of vegetation

The type of plants you water affects the drip irrigation system’s cost, as well. For example:

  • Plants with specialized water needs may require an additional water zone, thus increasing the cost by $250 – $775 per zone.
  • Lawns thrive with subsurface drip irrigation systems, which cost more than above-ground systems. Subsurface systems typically cost $815 – $4,335 per acre, and additional expenses may apply for land preparation. 
  • Agricultural systems typically cost more than residential systems. Sophisticated systems for professional use can cost over $3,000 per acre

Related services 

If you’re looking at irrigation system installation, you may also want to consider the following:

You may also need these landscaping and lawn care services:

Sprinkler system installation

Many homeowners use a sprinkler system to water their lawn, and the cost of sprinkler system installation is typically $2,400 – $4,200. The most significant determinants of price include:

  • Size of your lawn
  • Number of water zones
  • Type of system

It is important to choose the right type of sprinklers for your lawn.

National average cost$3,150
Typical price range$2,400 – $4,200
Extreme low-end cost$825
Extreme high-end cost$8,300

Sprinkler repairs

If you already use a sprinkler system to water your lawn, it is bound to need repair now and then. Most sprinkler repairs cost $110 – $365, but some high-end repairs can cost $650 or more. Please see the pricing for common sprinkler repairs in the table below.

Type of repairTypical price
Sprinkler head replacement$55 – $95
Broken sprinkler pipe $150 – $350
Water pressure issues$50 – $450
Valve replacement$69 – $320
Backflow preventer replacement$455 – $1,660

Rain barrel

Rain barrels are a convenient way to store rainwater, and a typical rain barrel costs $120 – $160. An irrigation pro can customize drip irrigation or sprinkler systems to use water stored in barrels.

National average cost$140
Typical price range$120 – $160
Extreme low-end cost$120
Extreme high-end cost$5,000

Sprinkler winterization

Winterizing your irrigation system prolongs its life span and saves you money on costly repairs. The typical cost of sprinkler winterization is $60 – $120, which is minimal compared to the damage freezing temperatures can cause. Furthermore, you can learn how to winterize your sprinkler system and do it yourself for as little as $35.

National average cost$90
Typical price range$60 – $120
Extreme low-end cost$45
Extreme high-end cost$275

Flower bed installation

Drip irrigation systems are often used to water flower beds, and flower bed installation costs $1,000 – $3,000 for most homeowners. However, flower beds are a lovely addition to any outdoor decor that adds to curb appeal and improves your outdoor experience.   

National average cost$2,500
Typical price range$1,000 – $3,000
Extreme low-end cost$850
Extreme high-end cost$6,000

Flower beds contain colorful annuals and perennials, often surrounded by mulch and complemented with decorative borders. You may want to spice things up by designing a wildflower garden. Native flowers are the easiest to take care of and the best choice for your local ecosystem. 

Raised garden beds

According to the University of New Hampshire, raised garden beds are more fruitful than beds built in the ground for the following reasons:

  • Less soil compaction
  • Better drainage
  • Warmer soil (longer growing season)

You can take a look at our Beginner’s Guide to Raised Bed Gardening and build your own for about $150 – $210.

Sod replacement

After installing a drip irrigation system, you may need to patch up your lawn. Professional sod installation typically costs $0.90 – $1.80 / square foot. However, prices vary depending on the type of grass.

Pro cost vs. DIY cost

Most DIY drip irrigation kits cost $25 – $200 and are above-ground units that cover 150 – 750 square feet. Please see DIY kit pricing info in the table below.

Average DIY kit cost$115
Typical DIY kit price range$25 – $200
Extreme low-end cost for a DIY kit$20
Extreme high-end cost for a DIY kit$380

Adding a drip irrigation unit to your garden is a worthwhile home improvement project that can save you money on your water bill and improve the health of your plants. You may want to save money by doing it yourself. The table below compares the cost of professional installation with a DIY kit. 

Typical cost of a DIY kit $25 – $200
Typical cost of pro installation$295 – $775

Subsurface and commercial drip irrigation units typically require professional installation.  

Cost of drip irrigation installation by location

Drip irrigation system prices vary by location for the following reasons:

  • Tax incentives and rebates are offered to homeowners in some locations when they upgrade to a water-efficient irrigation system, such as drip irrigation. 
  • Operational costs vary depending on the cost of the water source. For example, most residential irrigation systems connect to city water, and that cost varies from city to city. 
  • Clay and rock soils lead to higher labor costs when installing a subsurface system. 
  • Labor costs vary by location. Homeowners living in cities with a high cost of living should expect to pay more than average for labor. 

FAQ

What is the downside to drip irrigation?

The biggest downside to drip irrigation systems is that they clog easily. According to a study by the International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences, low water quality is the leading cause of clogging. When water has impurities such as particles of sentiment, chemicals, and micro-organisms, it becomes prone to clogging drip irrigation systems. 

Is a drip irrigation system worth it?

Drip irrigation systems are worth it to most homeowners because:

Reduced water bill: Drip irrigation gets water right to the plan’s roots, reducing evaporation. 
Low upfront cost: The average professionally installed drip irrigation system is under $500, and you can purchase a DIY kit for under $50
Great for gardens: Less water gets on leaves and fruit, and excess moisture can sometimes cause disease.
Fewer weeds: Because drip irrigation targets the root zone, weeds have less access to water. 

Is there a cheaper alternative to drip irrigation?

A low-cost alternative to drip irrigation is a soaker hose, which can be purchased for as little as $10. A soaker hose is like a garden hose with thousands of tiny holes for dispensing low-pressure water. They are easy to use but less water-efficient than a drip irrigation system because you can’t adjust the water pressure.

Final Thoughts

Drip irrigation can help you maintain a healthy, high-yield, low-cost garden. You can build a drip system for $25 – $200 or leave it to the professionals. An irrigation specialist will ensure the system is efficient and effective, so contact a pro near you for the best results. 

Note: Lawn Love may get a referral fee for matching you with contractors in your area.

Main Photo by: Water Alternatives Photos – Flickr – CC BY 2.0

Michelle Selzer

Michelle Selzer is a web developer, technical writer, and Linux enthusiast from the hills of Tennessee. Her hobbies include collecting toys, hiking to waterfalls, and writing short fan-fiction stories.