DIY Files: How to Set Up Drip Irrigation from Rain Barrels (Bubbler Emitters)

Drip Irrigation from Rain Barrels: a How-To Guide

Watch Jesse demonstrate how to install BlueBarrel's Gravity-Fed Drip Irrigation Kit with Bubbler Emitters.

Got rainwater?

Setting up drip irrigation from rain barrels is easier than you think!

If you’re looking for a gravity-fed drip irrigation system suited to your ornamental garden, bubbler emitters may be your best option. These systems allow you to place individual emitters at the base of each plant, allowing for precise control over where water is emitted from the drip line. Each bubbler emitter can also be adjusted for flow to accommodate the water needs of individual plants. 

Read on to learn how to set up our Drip Irrigation Kit for Gravity Feed with Bubbler Emitters. 

(If you're irrigating veggie rows, we recommend our Inline Emitter Kit instead)

These steps will be useful once you have the parts in-hand. If you're looking for more general information about how to think through a gravity-fed irrigation setup, including videos and a number of different gravity system types, start here

The Step-by-Step

Step 1 – After setting up your BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System, attach a streamlined 100-micron filter to your drain valve (sold separately from our accessories menu). It screws directly on to the drain, no extra parts needed.

 Step 2 – You'll see that the filter has male threads coming off perpendicular to the drain. Attach your no-pressure irrigation timer here (if using). Timers are also sold separately, and add major convenience, allowing you to automate your irrigation cycle with frequency and run-time. Set it and forget it!

 Step 3 – Next comes the swivel adapter. This part has a standard ¾” hose-threaded port on one end and a compression fitting for attaching ½” irrigation tubing on the other end.  Attach the threaded end of the adapter to the timer, or directly to the filter if you are not using a timer. 

Step 4 – Press the ½” irrigation tubing firmly into the compression end of the swivel adapter. Simply push and twist to seal.  

Step 5 – Design the layout for your drip irrigation system. You may wish to create connected rows, a loop, or a single line depending on the placement of your plants.  Use pipe cutters or garden shears to cut custom lengths of  ½” tubing. Run the line of tubing around the garden using ells and tees (compression fittings) as needed to create your formation. Use the stakes to secure tubing to the ground.

Step 6 – If your design is not a closed loop or if it features any offshoots, use the figure 8 fitting(s) to crimp off and secure the end(s).

Step 7 – Now it is time to insert the bubbler emitters near each plant. Securely holding the tubing, push and twist the hand-held hole punch tool to make a hole and then insert an emitter. If you make a mistake, insert a “goof plug” into the hole and carry on! 

Step 8 – Test the system. Turn on the water (or let your timer do that for you) and watch the magic happen! Adjust the flow of water by twisting individual emitters until each plant is happy.

set up drip irrigation filter, timer, tubing
connect filter, timer, adapter, tubing
insert tubing into compression fitting
insert tubing into compression fitting
bubbler puncher
punch bubbler emitter holes in tubing
bubbler emitter
insert and adjust bubbler emitters
drip irrigation bubbler layout
final layout of drip irrigation system


BlueBarrel is your one-stop-shop for used barrels, DIY rain barrel systems, and gravity-fed irrigation.

We’re tried and true, and we’re here for you!

We offer:

Join Our Email List

We send occasional tips and discount offers for our Online Store.

Sign up to receive a 10% Welcome Discount!

[Click Here]