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The Basics of Drip Irrigation

The Basics of Drip Irrigation

Posted by Grange Co-op on 22nd Apr 2022

The Basics of Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is a type of irrigation that entails a measured application of water with emitters. It is also known as low-flow, trickle, and micro-irrigation. Although this method has a slow flow rate, it is the most efficient type of irrigation.

Over the years, drip irrigation has transformed into an easy and reliable irrigation method that can be used for all types of situations.

To learn more about the basics of drip irrigation, keep reading below!

Why should Drip Irrigation be Used?

Drip irrigation is a highly beneficial and efficient method for watering a landscape. It helps save a large amount of water by minimizing evaporation and water runoff. Moreover, it helps foster healthy conditions for plants to grow optimally. Drip irrigation helps reduce pest infestation and control weed growth. The correct implementation of the drip irrigation method helps maintain healthy landscapes and crop growth.

Which Landscapes are the Best Fit for Drip Irrigation?

Almost all landscapes work well with drip irrigation. Landscapes with narrow and small areas find this method to be highly beneficial. Other landscapes such as desert landscape is also a great fit for this type of irrigation.

Drip is a method that can also be applied for watering vegetable gardens, potted plants, and fruit trees. There are a variety of tools and equipment within this method that can be used for different landscapes and soil types. The only exception is the turf areas, as this method isn’t suitable for watering them.   

What are the Main Components of a Drip Irrigation Method?

The drip irrigation method consists of a few integral components that we will discuss in this section. Let’s learn more below:


The irrigation clocks, also known as timers or controllers, are designed to turn on the control valves automatically at a certain time each day. This allows farmers control over the time and quantity of irrigation that the landscape receives. The settings of this control can be reprogrammed easily as per the changing needs. 


Backflow Preventers

This is an important component of the drip system as it prevents water from flowing back into the irrigation system’s potable water supply. All irrigation systems have backflow preventers as their integral component. The installation of these preventers is regulated by local and municipal codes and laws. 


Another essential component of drip irrigation systems is the filters. In order to keep the irrigation water clean from any contaminants, the filters screen the water in the irrigation lines to keep the supply clean. Filters are essential for maintaining optimum water flow because even small particles and emitter openings can block the flow.


Valves control the operation of the irrigation system as they are used to turn it on or off. The valves of an irrigation system can be operated both manually and automatically. They are connected to the wiring of the irrigation controller of the system.

Pressure Regulator

Pressure regulators are another essential component of a drip irrigation system. This type of irrigation requires a very low pressure that shouldn’t exceed 20 psi. The pressure regulator ensures that the water pressure which usually ranges between 50 and 75 psi is lowered before getting in the system.

Pipe and Tubing

Efficient drip irrigation also requires a rigid PVC pipeline and flexible polyethylene tubing. This type of drip irrigation tubing is generally lateral and buried under the soil.

Poly Tubing


This is another type of tubing that constitutes the drip irrigation system and distributes the water to emitters and the plants from the lateral lines. They are also called "half-inch" or "spaghetti tubing" because they are smaller than other types of tubing.


Emitters are usually connected to the ends of micro tubing or between microtubing and polyethylene tubing. They slow down the delivery of water to the plants at around half, 2, or 4 gph (gallons per hour). For drip irrigation, emitters are installed at different intervals.  

Flush Cap or Valve

Flush valves are a component of the system that is installed at the end of every lateral line. Periodically, these caps are removed to allow the flushing of debris and unwanted particles from the lateral irrigation channels.

How to Design a Drip Irrigation System?

It is not only possible to design your own irrigation system, but it is also very easy to do it. If you plan for it carefully, it isn't complex to implement. Here is how it can be done:

  1. First, separate plants that have similar requirements of water supply into groups. For example, make groups of shrubs, trees, turf, and ground covers within separate valves. Make a note of the total number of plants in each group and their water requirements.  
  2. Design the size, length of pipes, and changes in elevation with careful consideration.
  3. Create a plan for the expansion of the irrigation system with the growth of plants. Assess whether more emitters will be required to fulfill the water requirements of the growing plants. 
  4. The last step is to invest in good quality tools and equipment. Since it's a long-term investment, it will save you a lot in the later stages when you will not have to replace low-quality equipment.

Pro Tips for Creating and Maintaining a Drip Irrigation System

Here are the tops tips that you need to keep in mind while working on your drip irrigation system:

  • Always follow the instruction of the manufacturer for installing different components.
  • Always ensure that the filters are kept clean by flushing the system periodically.
  • Set watering schedules as per the changing needs of plants based on seasons, the texture of the soil, weather, etc.
  • Keep a check on emitters and lines by visually inspecting them every month to ensure the proper delivery of water across the system.
  • Keep notes of the installation design and plan.
  • In cold areas, take the necessary steps to prevent freeze damage.

Final Thoughts

The drip irrigation system is one of the most efficient systems around. With correct implementation, it can prove highly beneficial and successful for the irrigation of several types of landscapes. To get started on setting up a drip irrigation system, visit our store for all the equipment that you’ll need