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Drip Irrigation System Design and Installation Guide - Micro Drip Irrigation System Design

Everything you need to know about Drip Irrigation Systems

Advantages & Benefits of Drip Irrigation Systems

 

In this time of water and resource conservation, a home drip irrigation system makes sense. A home drip irrigation system is generally less expensive to install than conventional subsurface PVC irrigation systems and drip irrigation uses much less water. 

Water Conservation - Drip irrigation systems allow you an efficient irrigation system design by supplying water where it is needed - at the very roots of the plants. As a result, water is not wasted on leaves or soil. A drip irrigation system is designed to significantly reduce the chances for evaporation and run off. Both are common with traditional irrigation systems where the water is often supplied at a rate greater than the soil can absorb it.

Reduce Weed Growth - When water is applied using a conventional sprinkler irrigation system design, everything gets wet. Since a home drip irrigation system applies water to the root zone of your plants, the spaces in between plants remain dry. This greatly inhibits weed seed germination. If the soil remains dry, most seeds will not germinate. Landscape maintenance takes less time with a home drip irrigation system.

 

Reduce Plant Stress - When plants get deep, consistent watering, they thrive. Inefficient, shallow watering can contribute to plant stress. Promote healthy growth and disease resistance plants in your home garden with a drip irrigation system.


Extremely Flexible Application - You have many drip irrigation installation options with drip irrigation tubing, fittings, and emitters. Drip irrigation is a versatile watering system designed to be easily installed on hillsides or flat terrains.  A drip irrigation system is the perfect irrigation system for oddly shaped landscapes and windy areas. Existing sprinkler systems can be retrofit with drip irrigation with very little effort.


Save Money - Once a drip irrigation system is installed, you will use less water to irrigate. If your home is on a well, you will notice a severe drop in your pumping costs. With the drip irrigation system, you will no longer need to hand water your garden. Automate your home drip irrigation system with an irrigation controller and eliminate the need to pay someone to water your landscape while you are on vacation. With the reduction of plant disease and unwanted weeds, your gardening labor and maintenance costs will also drop considerably.

 

landscape-photo-of-red-berries-on-tree

 

Connecting to the Water Source

 

 Connect to a hose bibb (faucet) or tie-in directly to the  water supply with an electric solenoid valve. Click the Parts List for detailed information on products used in this tutorial.

Hose Bibb Connection with Battery Timer

 

Hose Bibb (Faucet)
Y- Ball Valve - This 2-outlet ball valve allows for connection of garden hose and drip system from the same hose bibb, faucet, spigot, or hydrant.
Hose End Digital Timer - A timer is optional. You may operate your system manually with the Y Ball Valve above.
 

 

Hose Bibb Connection with Y Filter (hose thread)  

 

 

Hose Bibb (Faucet)
Y- Ball Valve - This 2-outlet ball valve allows for connection of garden hose and drip system from the same hose bibb, faucet, spigot, or hydrant.
Hose End Digital Timer - A timer is optional. You may operate your system manually with the Y Ball Valve above.
 

 



Electric Solenoid Valve Connection

 

 

 

Hose Vacuum Breaker - Prevents water from flowing back from your drip irrigation system into your household water.
Hose Inline Filter 120 mesh screen. Drip emitters are less likely to clog if you install proper filtration. If you prefer a Y Filter, use a Y Filter with hose threads. See photo below.
Preset Pressure Regulator - 20 psi or 30 psi recommended. Learn how to choose a drip regulator.

Swivel Hose Adapter - Connects to 1/2" drip mainline (size 700) with a compression fitting. For 1/4" tubing use a swivel adapter with a 1/4" barb.   1/2" Drip Tubing

Hose Bibb (Faucet)
 Drip Pressure Regulator (female pipe thread x male pipe thread)

To connect drip tubing to a pipe-thread regulator, use a swivel adapter with pipe threads (not shown)

Hose End Digital Timer - A timer is optional. You may operate your system manually with the Y Ball Valve above.
Preset Pressure Regulator - 20 psi or 30 psi recommended. Learn how to choose a drip regulator.
Y Filter (hose threads). 150 mesh screen. Drip emitters are less likely to clog if you install proper filtration
Hose Vacuum Breaker - Prevents water from flowing back from your drip irrigation system into your household water.
Swivel Hose Adapter - Connects to 1/2" drip mainline (size 700) with a compression fitting. For 1/4" tubing use a swivel adapter with a 1/4" barb.

1/2" Drip Tubing

Hose End Digital Timer - A timer is optional. You may operate your system manually with the Y Ball Valve above.
Electric Solenoid Valve. Receives 24VAC signal from automatic Irrigation Controller.
Y Filter  with 150 mesh stainless steel screen. Drip emitters are less likely to clog if you install proper filtration.

 

Installing Drip Irrigation Tubing & Fittings

 

1/2" Solid Drip Irrigation Tubing (main line) & Compression Fittings

The most common size of main line drip irrigation tubing is "700" - .700" O.D. (Outer Diameter) x .600" I.D. (Inner Diameter). It is often 100 ft roll of 1/2" solid drip tubingcalled simply "1/2 inch drip tubing". That said, not all 1/2" drip irrigation tubing is the same size. Confused? Read more about drip irrigation tubing sizes in our tutorial called "What size is my drip tubing?". The drip irrigation tubing is the main feeder line for your drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation tubing is used to create manifolds and branch lines. The maximum distance that you can run drip irrigation tubing will vary with the number of drip emitters you install and the spacing between emitters, but here are two conservative design guidelines:

 

Maximum Run per circuit: 200 ft

Maximum Flow Capacity: 220 gph

 

Our  Drip Tubing Maximum Run Chart (PDF) will help you compare different drip irrigation design scenarios. The drip irrigation tubing maximum run will increase if you use low-output emitters (1/2 gallon-per-hour). Increasing pressure regulator size from a 20 psi regulator to a 30 psi regulator will also extend the distance that you can run drip irrigation main line. 

 

We carry the following sizes of  700 drip tubing:

 

1/2" Drip Tubing (700) 100 ft

1/2" Drip Tubing (700) 500 ft

 

Install drip tubing with compression fittings. The tubing is inserted into the fitting and requires no glue.

 

Use clippers to cut 1/2" tubing.

Cutting 1/2" drip tubing with pruners (hand clippers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Installing a compression elbow

Installing a 1/2" commpression elbow

Compression elbow installed on 1/2" drip mainline tubing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Installing a compression tee

Installing a 1/2" commpression teeCompression tee installed on 1/2" drip mainline tubing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Installing a compression coupler

Installing a 1/2" commpression couplerCompression coupler installed on 1/2" drip mainline tubing

 













Installing a compression end cap (threaded)

Installing a 1/2" commpression threaded end cap

End cap easily removed for draining or flushing line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






Drip main line tubing with compression coupler and threaded end cap

Typicall main line drip tubing installation

 

Installing a figure 8 end plug

Step One - slip figure 8 over tubing

Step Two - crimp tubing

 

Step Three - slip tubing through other end of figure 8

Completed Figure 8 Installation

 

Installing a goof plug. Also, called a "mistake plug", it is great for plugging small holes in drip mainline tubing. If you need to move an emitter or a 1/4" barbed fitting, just pull it out and replace it with a goof plug.

Goof Plug inserts into hole in mainline tubingGoof Plug installed in mainline drip tubing

 

A 1/2" Flow Control Valve allows you to reduce the flow to a drip main line shut it off completely.

Flow Control Valve - open positionFlow Control Valve - closed position

 

 

 

Connecting different sizes of drip tubing.

Use adapter compression fittings to join drip mainline tubing of different sizes. Note that colored compression rings correspond to tubing size. For more information on tubing sizes,  read "What size is my drip tubing?".



700 (black rings) x 710 (blue rings) - DD-CCA700-710

 

Compression adapter for 700 x 710 drip tubingCompression adapter with 700 & 710 drip tubing installed

700 (black rings) x 620 Raindrip (green rings) - DD-CCA700-620

Compression adapter for 700 x 620 drip tubingCompression adapter with 700 & 620 drip tubing installed

700 (black rings) x 580 (yellow rings) - DD-CCA700-580

Compression adapter for 700 x 580 drip tubingCompression adapter with 700 & 580 drip tubing installed

700 (black rings) x 455 (red rings) - DD-CCA700-455

Compression adapter for 700 x 455 drip tubingCompression adapter with 700 & 455 drip tubing installed

 

Build your own compression fittings

You can easily convert a 1/2" slip PVC fitting to a compression fitting.

Adapter compression ring for size 710 drip tubing Adapter compression ring for size 700 drip tubing Adapter compression ring for size 620 Raindrip tubing Adapter compression ring for size 580 drip tubing Adapter compression ring for size 455 drip tubing

Apply PVC glue to 1/2" slip fitting

Gluing a PVC fitting for compression ring

Apply glue to compression ring

Gluing a compression ring for insertion into PVC fitting

Insert compression ring into PVC fitting

Inserting a compression ring into a PVC fitting

Finished compression ring installation

Compression fitting installed in a PVC tee

 

 

1/4" Drip Micro Irrigation Tubing & Barbed Fittings

 

Also called "distribution tubing" or "spaghetti tubing", the most common size is .250" O.D. (Outer Diameter) x .170" I.D. (Inner 100 foot roll of 1/4" drip micro tubingDiameter) .  This micro irrigation tubing is available in Polyethylene (PE) "Poly" or Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) "Vinyl". 1/4" Vinyl Tubing is heavier than 1/4" Poly Tubing. Vinyl tubing more flexible and easier to work with, but is also more expensive. 

 

This drip micro irrigation tubing is most often designed to branch off from main line drip irrigation tubing to individual plants. Drip emitters are attached to the ends of 1/4" drip micro irrigation tubing and staked next to plants. Check out this basic installation tutorial to learn about choosing the best drip irrigation emitter.

 

1/4" drip micro irrigation tubing does not have the same water carrying capacity as 1/2" drip irrigation tubing. Keep the following restrictions in mind when using 1/4" drip micro irrigation tubing:

 

Maximum Run per branch: 50 ft

Maximum Flow Rate: 30 gph

 

We carry the following sizes of  1/4" drip tubing:

 

1/4" Drip Tubing (250) Poly - 100 ft

1/4" Drip Tubing (250) Poly - 1000 ft

1/4" Drip Tubing (250) Vinyl - 100 ft

1/4" Drip Tubing (250) Vinyl - 1000 ft

 

Install 1/4" drip tubing with barbed fittings. The barbs are is inserted into the tubing and require no glue.

 

Use scissors to cut 1/4" solid micro tubing.

 

Cutting 1/4" drip tubing with scissors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Our Deluxe Hole Punch cuts a clean hole in main line drip tubing. 1/4" barbed fittings are inserted into the hole.

Removing Hole Punch

Inserting barbed coupling  into main line          Barbed coupling with micro tubing

 

Barbed coupling attached to 1/4" micro tubing

Attaching 1/4" tubing to 1/4" barbed tee                            1/4" tubing attached to barbed tee                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Inserting barbed tee into main line tubing               Barbed tee attached to 1/2" main line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inserting barbed elbow into 1/4" drip micro tubing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







Inserting barbed elbow into drip main line

 

 

 

A barbed cross connects 4 lengths of 1/4" drip micro tubing

To cap off 1/4" drip micro tubing, install a goof plug.

A bug plug will keep insects from crawling into 1/4" drip micro tubing while water flows freely.

A 1/4" Flow Control Valve allows you to reduce the flow to a drip line shut it off completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 






The 1/4" Flow Control Valve can also be attached directly to drip mainline tubing .

 

Choosing the Right Drip Emitter

 

There are Four things to consider...

 

1. Pressure-Compensating vs. Non-Pressure-Compensating Emitters

First determine whether or not you need pressure-compensating emitters. These drip irrigation emitters cost a little more but are the best choice for picture of pressure compensating emittermany drip irrigation applications. If your landscape has elevation changes (hills, dips, etc.) go with pressure-compensating emitters. These drip irrigation emitters have a diaphragm inside designed for maintaining the same water flow through the drip emitter even if the elevation (and pressure) changes.

 

The PCE Series is our best quality pressure compensating emitter.

 

Pressure compensating emitter installed on 1/2" drip tubing

     1/2 gph (gallon per hour) best for Clay Soils (hard) Presssure compensating emitter installed with micro stake
     1 gph best for Loam Soils (normal)
     2 gph best for Sandy Soils (loose)
     Self-flushing
     Inlet pressure can vary from 14.58 - 58 psi

 

 



The TC Series "Turbo Style" is our most economical pressure compensating emitter.

 

Pressure compensating emitter installed on 1/2" drip tubing

     1/2 gph (gallon per hour) best for Clay Soils (hard) Presssure compensating emitter installed with micro stake
     1 gph best for Loam Soils (normal)
     2 gph best for Sandy Soils (loose)
     Easy to take apart & clean
     Inlet pressure can vary from 10 - 40 psi

 



picture of a non-pressure-compensating emitterIf you install non-pressure-compensating emitters in the example above, the drip emitters on the higher elevations will distribute less water than those at the bottom of the slope. Non-pressure compensating emitters are a great choice for flat landscapes and with gravity-fed drip irrigation systems.

 

The TAE Series "Flag Emitter" is our most economical emitter.

 

Non-Pressure-Compensating emitter installed on 1/2" drip tubing

     1 gph (gallon per hour) best for Clay Soils (hard) Non-Presssure-Compensating emitter installed with micro stake
     2 gph best for Loam Soils (normal)
     4 gph best for Sandy Soils (loose)
     Easy to take apart & clean
     Must operate between 15 - 20 psi for stated output


2. Drip vs. Spray

Not all drip emitters "drip". If you want to water a broader area, consider a stream or spectrum spray design. Drip micro irrigation sprayers are adjustable so you can dial-in the exact spray distance that you require. The output ranges from 0 - 24 gph.

 

Stream Spray EmitterA stream spray emitter distributes water like fingers in either a 360° or 180° pattern. The micro irrigation sprayers are adjustable with a radius up to 18 inches. Barb connections allow you to install them directly to mainline drip tubing. Also available on a 6 inch stake (threaded base too, see "Micro Jets" section below).

 

The SR Series "Stream Spray Emitter" is adjustable with barbed connector.


Adjustable stream bubbler on drip mainline tubing

     Full Circle Diameter from 6" - 3'  Adjsutable stream spray (half circle) installed on drip mainline tubing
     Half Circle Radius from 3" - 18"
     Removable top for cleaning
     Twist cap to adjust stream



 

The SR Series "Stream Spray Emitter" on 6 inch stake.


Adjustable stream bubbler on stake - full circle

     Full Circle Diameter from 6" - 3'  Adjustable stream bubbler on stake - half circle
     Half Circle Radius from 3" - 18"
     Removable top for cleaning
     Twist cap to adjust stream



 

Spectrum Spray Emitter

Spectrum Spray Emitters deliver water in a fine spray with a 360° umbrella pattern. These micro irrigation emitters are good for ground cover, seed plantings, and annual flower beds where you don't want the soil to be dry between plants. Barb connections allow you to attach them directly to mainline drip tubing. Also available on a 6 inch stake (threaded base too, see "Micro Jets" section below).

 


The SM Series "Spectrum Spray Emitter" is adjustable and comes with barbed connector & 6 inch stake (threaded base too, see "Micro Jets" section below).

Spectrum Spray (full circle) installed on drip mainline tubing

     Full Circle - barb Dia. to 5.5 feet  Spectrum Spray on stake - half circle
     Half Circle - stake Dia. to 5.5 feet
     Removeable top for cleaning
     Twist cap to adjust spray




 

Adjustable Micro Jet Sprayer

Micro Jet Sprayers & Micro Stake Assemblies are another choice for watering small flower beds and ground cover. All micro irrigation spray products feature 10-32 threads which allow them to be easily screwed into micro stake assemblies and rigid risers (shown below). If you have a lot of micro irrigation spray products on one drip irrigation line, the total water output can add up fast. Be sure to plan for the maximum output of the micro Irrigation products you are using so that you don't run short on flow if you need to open them up all the way. See the installation chart at the end of this section for micro irrigation jet flow rates.

 


The Micro Stake Assemblies are available in 12" and 20 inch lengths.

Micro Stake Assembly with sprayer attached to drip tubing

     12" Stake Assembly   Threading fitting into micro stake assembly
     20" Stake Assembly  
     18" micro tubing attached
     Barb connector included

Micro Stake Assembly

 

 

 


Rigid Riser Extensions can be used to increase the height of  Micro Stake Assemblies. They are available in lengths of 8", 12", and 18".

Rigid Riser Extension for Micro Stake Assembly

    8" Rigid Riser Extension   Threading rigid riser into micro jet stake assembly
   12" Rigid Riser Extension
   18" Rigid Riser Extension
    Riser threads into the top of stake

 

 

 

 

Micro Sprayers come in many configurations. The flow rates for micro sprays can add up fast. See the chart at the end of this section for micro jet flow rates.


1/4 circle adjustable micro spray & riser extention

1/2 circle adjustable micro spray & riser extention

 

 


Full circle adjustable rotary spray & riser extention

Full circle adjustable micro spray & riser extention

 

 

 

Adjustable Stream Bubbler Full Circle:                       Adjustable Stream Bubbler Half Circle:

 

Half circle adjustable stream bubbler & micro jet stake

Full circle adjustable stream bubbler & micro jet stake

 
 
                                          Adjustable Spectrum Spray Full Circle:
 

Full circle adjustable spectrum spray & micro jet stake

 
1-Piece Micro Sprays are available in Full (360°), Half (180°), & Quarter (90°) Circle patterns. We offer two color-coded outputs Full circle 1-piece micro spray on riser extension (red & blue). The blue orifice is smaller (0.040") and distributes less water than the red orifice (0.060").Half circle 1-piece micro spray on riser extension

 

 Half circle (0.040") micro spray - wateringHalf circle (0.060") micro spray - watering

 

2 Piece Micro Sprays made up of bases and caps. Base output varies and caps determine the spray pattern: Full, Half & Quarter (Links to all models below photo):
 Half circle cap & green base on riser extension

Full circle cap & green base on riser extension

 
 

 

Full circle cap on riser extension - wateringHalf circle cap on riser extension - watering


MICRO SPRAY CAP & BASE PERFORMANCE
Black Base, .030" Opening (DD-MSB30)
Arc Pressure Radius Diameter
Flow
  psi ft
ft
gph
DD-MCF
10 - 10.2 4.7
360 Degrees
15 - 13.4 5.9
   20 - 14.7 6.9
25
-  15.6  7.8
  30 - 16.4 8.6
DD-MCH 10 4.4 - 4.7
180 Degrees
15 5.0 - 5.9
  20 5.4 - 6.9
   25 5.6 - 7.8
30  6.7  - 8.6
DD-MCQ 10 4.4 - 4.7
90 Degrees
15 5.7 - 5.9
   20 6.6 - 6.9
25 7.2  -  7.8
  30 7.7 - 8.6
Blue Base, .040" Opening (DD-MSB40)
Arc Pressure Radius Diameter
Flow
  psi ft
ft
gph
DD-MCF
10 - 13.4 7.0
360 Degrees
15 - 15.8 8.9
   20 - 18.2 10.5
25
-  19.6  12.0
  30 - 20.4 13.3
DD-MCH 10 5.2 - 7.0
180 Degrees
15 6.0 - 8.9
  20 6.4 - 10.5
   25 6.6 - 12.0
30  7.0  -  13.3
DD-MCQ 10 4.7 - 7.0
90 Degrees
15 6.1 - 8.9
   20 7.6 - 10.5
25 8.2  -  12.0
  30 8.6 - 13.3
Green Base, .050" Opening (DD-MSB50)
Arc Pressure Radius Diameter
Flow
  psi ft
ft
gph
DD-MCF
10 - 17.4
11.5
360 Degrees
15 - 21.1
14.5
   20 - 22.5
17.2
25
-  23.3  19.5
  30 - 23.8
21.5
DD-MCH 10 5.7 - 11.5
180 Degrees
15 6.6 - 14.5
  20 7.2
- 17.2
   25 7.8
- 19.5
30  8.4  -  21.5
DD-MCQ 10 5.8
- 11.5
90 Degrees
15 7.4
- 14.5
   20 8.4
- 17.2
25 9.1
 -  19.5
  30 9.6
- 21.5
Red Base, .060" Opening (DD-MSB60)
Arc Pressure Radius Diameter
Flow
  psi ft
ft
gph
DD-MCF
10 - 18.4 16.3
360 Degrees
15 - 22.6 20.0
   20 - 25.7 23.5
25
-  26.3  26.0
  30 - 26.7 29.0
DD-MCH 10 6.7 - 7.0
180 Degrees
15 8.1 - 8.9
  20 9.5 - 10.5
   25 10.1 - 12.0
30  10.6  -  13.3
DD-MCQ 10 6.4 - 7.0
90 Degrees
15 8.1 - 8.9
   20 9.4 - 10.5
25 9.8  -  12.0
  30 10.8 - 13.3

 

3. Retrofitting an Existing Sprinkler System

Home sprinkler systems can be converted to a drip irrigation system in a number of ways. Pressure compensating drip bubblers and emitters can be attached directlypicture of 6-outlet drip bubbler to 1/2" threaded risers. Simply unscrew the existing sprinkler or shrub head and replace it with the drip emitter or bubbler. Our 6-outlet drip bubblers allow you to run 1/4" drip tubing to up to six plants. The drip bubblers come with one outlet open. You can cut the tip off of closed outlets with a utility knife. Drip irrigation bubblers deliver a lot of Picture of single-outlet emitter for sprinkler retrofitwater and are a good choice for deep-watering trees.

The single-outlet drip emitters are best designed for watering individual plants. Both drip emitters and bubblers can be installed at 90° angles by using a Marlex elbow, as shown in the photos.

 

4. Drip Emitter Tubing vs. In-Line Emitters

Drip Emitter Tubing aka: Soaker Hose Dripline, has drip irrigation emitters extruded into the tubing itself. It comes in rolls of 100 feet or more. Drip emitter tubing is used in row plantings, Close up of 1/2" Drip Emiter Tubingvegetable gardens, and anytime that a long, even-spaced run is required. Drip emitter tubing can be purchased with 1/2 gph or 1gph emitters at a variety of spacings and comes in 1/4" & Close up of 1/4" Drip Emiter Tubing1/2" (700) drip tubing sizes.  The drip emitters in the 1/2" tubing are pressure compensating. Pressure compensating drip emitters will maintain the same water flow regardless of fluctuations in pressure.  The 1/4" drip emitters are non-pressure compensating. The water flow will vary with fluctuations in pressure. This makes it a good choice for low pressure and gravity fed drip irrigation systems. Drip irrigation emitter tubing is easily wrapped around trees, shrubs, borders, & flower beds. Install in rows for small vegetable gardens, raised planter boxes, and window boxes.

 

Use scissors to cut 1/4" tubing and clippers to cut 1/2" tubing.



 

 

 

 

 

 



1/4" Drip Emitter Tubing (Soaker Line) is available in the following configurations:

100 foot roll of 1/4" drip emitter tubing

100' roll, 1/2 gph emitters, 6" spacing

100' roll, 1/2 gph emitters, 12" spacing

 

Install with 1/4" barbed fittings. Since the emitters in 1/4" drip emitter tubing are non-pressure-compensatings, the output of each emitter with vary with changes in pressure. We recommend installing a 20 psi regulator.

 

1/4" Drip Emitter Tubing - Operating Specifications

Pressure     Flow Rate Per Emitter

10 psi                0.39 gph
15 psi                0.47 gph
20 psi                0.56 gph
25 psi                0.63 gph
30 psi                0.69 gph

 

1/2" Drip Emitter Tubing (.700" O.D x .600" I.D.) is available in the following configurations:

Roll of 1/2" Drip Emitter Tubing

1/2 gph emitters, 12" spacing - 100' roll

1/2 gph emitters, 12" spacing - 400' roll

1/2 gph emitters, 18" spacing - 100' roll

1/2" gph emitters, 18" spacing - 400' roll

1 gph emitters, 18" spacing - 400' roll

1 gph emitters, 18" spacing - 400' roll

 

Install with 1/2" compression fittings. Since the emitters in 1/2" drip emitter tubing are pressure-compensating, the output of each emitter stays the same, even with changes in pressure.  These drip irrigation emitters are self-flushing and clog resistant. Irrigation Direct recommends installing a 20 psi regulator or 30 psi regulator, and a filter with 120 - 150 mesh screen.

Emitter Tubing Guidelines
Tubing Size & Emitter Spacing Pressure Compensating Emitters? Max psi Max Run per branch
Max Run Total           (1/4" is fed from 1/2" mainline)
1/4" Tubing - 6" spacing 1/2 gal/hr
No 30  19 ft
200 ft
1/4" Tubing - 12" spacing 1/2 gal/hr No 30  33 ft
400 ft



 
1/2" Tubing - 12" spacing 1/2 gal/hr Yes 50*   450 ft
1/2" Tubing - 18" spacing 1/2 gal/hr Yes 50*   500 ft
1/2" Tubing - 18" spacing 1 gal/hr Yes 50*   350 ft
* We recommend operating at 20 - 30 psi    

 

Pressure Compensating Emitters

  • Deliver the stated gph (gallons per hour) even if pressures range is 10-50 psi
  • Works well with elevation changes
  • Self-flushing to reduce clogging

Non-Pressure-Compensating Emitters

  • Output will vary with changes in pressure & elevation
  • Works best with flat landscapes
  • Excellent for gravity-fed drip systems

1/2" Compression Fittings

  • Recommended pressure: 10-30 psi
  • Max pressure: 60 psi

 

In-Line Emitters

If you don't have a long run or you have uneven plant spacings, you can make your own custom drip emitter tubing with in-line emitters. Simply cut 1/4" micro irrigation tubing to the desired lengths and install it to the barbs on either side of the in-line drip emitter.

 

 

 

Compare All Our Drip Emitters

Still not sure which type of emitter to buy? This handy chart should help: Compare all drip emitters.




Designing and Planning Your Drip Irrigation System

 

Design Watering Zones by Plant GroupsWater camelias with drip irrigation


- Flower Beds & Ground Cover
- Trees & Shrubs
- Vegetable Gardens
- Containers, Pots & Boxes


Plants of similar sizes and growth habits generally have  watering requirements that are much the same. Always try to design group watering zones by plant moisture needs and local climate conditions (shade, partial shade , full sun). 

Consider the following drip irrigation system design:

 

• Plants that need frequent, shallow watering, like annual flowers and ground cover, should be grouped separately from those needing less frequent, deep watering, like trees.


• Seasonal plantings like crops or vegetable gardens should be kept separate from permanent plantings like shrubs. Install inexpensive flow control valves to shut off these areas when not in use.


• Create separate zones for plants in the shade versus hot, sunny spots.


Container plants should be watered separately from plants in the ground. They have confined root systems and may dry  out more quickly.

 

Determine Your Soil Type:

Water puddles in hard, tightly bound soil and may eventually runoff. Apply water slowly to clay soils so that it has time to penetrate into the root zone. In sandy soils, water flows down in a narrow pattern. Space drip irrigation emitters closer together to ensure full coverage of the root zone. The installation guidelines below will help you plan for your specific landscape design.

 

Flower pots containing Sandy Soil, Loamy Soil, Clay SoilSandy Soil (loose): Grip a handful tightly, when released it will fall apart.

Loamy Soil (normal): Grip a handful tightly, when released it will hold together, but can easily be broken apart.

Clay Soil (hard): Grip a handful tightly, when released it will hold together and is not easy to break apart.

 

Emitter Recommendations by Plant & Soil Type:

 

PCE - Pressure Compensating Emitter

     Flower Beds & Ground Cover - Sandy Soil

 

Individual Plants

Drip Emitters (1gph):

1 gph PCE Drip Emitter

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/4" tubing, size 250):

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 100 ft roll


Groups of Plants

Flowers and ground cover

Large Plants

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/2" tubing, size 700):

1/2 gph at 12"spacing - 100 ft roll

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 400 ft roll

Small Plants

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/4" tubing, size 250):

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 100 ft roll

Spray fittings:

Micro Jets-Sprayers

 

Rows of Plants

Drip Emitters (1/2 gph, 1gph):

1 gph PCE Drip Emitter 

Large Plants

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/2" tubing, size 700):

1/2 gph at 12"spacing - 100 ft roll

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 400 ft roll

Small Plants

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/4" tubing, size 250):

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 100 ft roll

 

 

PCE - Pressure Compensating Emitter

     Flower Beds & Ground Cover - Loamy or Clay Soil

 

Individual Plants

Drip Emitters (1/2 gph, 1gph):

1/2 gph PCE Drip Emitter 

1 gph PCE Drip Emitter

Groups of Plants

Large Plants

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/2" tubing, size 700): 

1 gph at 18"spacing - 100 ft roll

1 gph at 18" spacing - 400 ft roll

Small Plants

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/4" tubing, size 250):

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 100 ft roll

Spray fittings:

Micro Jets-Sprayers Micro Jet Sprays are good for ground cover

Rows of Plants

Drip Emitters (1/2 gph, 1gph):

1/2 gph PCE Drip Emitter 

1 gph PCE Drip Emitter

Large Plants

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/2" tubing, size 700):

1 gph at 18"spacing - 100 ft roll

1 gph at 18" spacing - 400 ft roll

Small Plants

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/4" tubing, size 250):

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 100 ft roll

 

 

PCE - Pressure Compensating Emitter

     Trees & Shrubs - All Soil Types


Small Shrubs & Roses (up to 4' high)

1-2 Drip Emitters per plant (2 gph-Sandy,1 gph-Loam, 1/2 gph-Clay):

2 gph PCE Drip EmitterTrees and Shrubs love drip irrigation

1/2 gph PCE Drip Emitter

1 gph PCE Drip Emitter

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/2" tubing, size 700).

Tip: Loop emitter tubing around base of plant for best coverage.

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 100 ft roll (Clay & Loam)

1/2 gph at 18" spacing - 100 ft roll (Loam)

Adjustable Stream Bubblers

Stream Bubbler on Stake - Full Circle

Stream Bubbler on Stake - Half Circle

Stream Bubbler with barb - Full Circle

Stream Bubbler with barb - Half Circle


 

Medium Shrubs & Trees (2' to 4' high)

2 Drip Emitters per plant (2 gph-Sandy,1 gph-Loam, 1/2 gph-Clay)

Tip: Install 12" from base of plant on either side

2 gph PCE Drip Emitter

1/2 gph PCE Drip Emitter

1 gph PCE Drip Emitter

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/2" tubing, size 700).

Tip: Loop emitter tubing around base of pant for best coverage.Adjustable Stream Bubbler with barb

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 100 ft roll (Clay & Loam)

1/2 gph at 18" spacing - 100 ft roll (Loam)

Adjustable Stream Bubblers on a stake

Stream Bubbler on Stake - Full CircleStream Bubbler on a Stake

Stream Bubbler on Stake - Half Circle

Stream Bubbler with barb - Full Circle

Stream Bubbler with barb - Half Circle

 

 

Larger Shrubs & Trees (4' to 6' high)

2-4 Drip Emitters per plant placed in a loop around the tree canopy

Sandy Soil: 4 - 2 gph emitters 2 gph PCE Drip Emitter (12" - 18" spacing)

Loamy Soil: 2 to 3 - 1 gph emitters 1 gph PCE Drip Emitter (18" spacing) 

Clay Soil: 4 - 1/2 gph emitters 1/2 gph PCE Drip Emitter (12" - 18" spacing)

 

Drip Emitter Tubing (1/2" tubing, size 700).

Tip: Loop emitter tubing around base of plant for best coverage.Drip Emitter Tubing

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 100 ft roll (Clay & Loam) 

1/2 gph at 12" spacing - 400 ft roll (Clay & Loam) 

1/2 gph at 18" spacing - 100 ft roll (Loam) 

1/2 gph at 18" spacing - 400 ft roll (Loam)

1 gph at 18" spacing - 100 ft roll (Loam & Sand)

1 gph at 18" spacing - 400 ft roll (Loam & Sand)


 

Large Trees (6' and up)

5 Drip Emitters per plant placed in a loop around the tree canopy

Sandy & Loamy Soil:  2 gph emitters 2 gph PCE Drip Emitter (12" - 18" spacing)

Clay Soil: 2 gph emitters 2 gph PCE Drip Emitter (18" - 24" spacing)


Also commonly referred to as micro-irrigation, trickle irrigation, low volume irrigation or xerigation. Micro irrigation is a system of irrigation which very efficiently delivers water to the soil surface or the root zone; this is done by having water drip slowly from emission devices, most commonly called "drip emitters" or “drippers”.

Early forms of drip irrigation systems can be traced back to ancient times where clay pots were filled with water and then buried in the Early form of drip irrigation - clay potsground, this allowed the water to gradually leak out and into the root zone of nearby vegetation. The first formal development of drip irrigation system supplies began around 1866 in Afghanistan, where they tested drip irrigation and drainage systems by using various types of clay pipe. A researcher at Colorado State University, Mr. E.B. House, began applying subsurface water directly to the root zone in 1913. Perforated Pipe was first used for irrigation in Germany around 1920.

 

After WWII the ability to mold plastics became widespread and more cost effective. This helped pave the way for innovations in the manufacturing of drip irrigation system components. At this time, Polyethylene (PE) tubing, also referred to as "micro tubing" or "spaghetti tubing", and early versions of drip irrigation emitters (drippers), became more common and was installed throughout the US and Europe. In Israel, Simcha Blass & Drip Emitter opened to display internal labyrinthYeshayahu Blass were innovating in the area of emitter design. They created a method for water to flow through longer and wider passageways inside of the drip irrigation emitter. These “labyrinths” allowing for less clogging. The velocity of water moving through the labyrinth, and resulting turbulence, helps to slow it down, creating a "drip". In 1959 Kibbutz Harzerim partnered with Blass to form a company called Netafim, to further develop and test this concept. Netafim was then able to patent the first drip irrigation emitter. This development helped the technology of drip irrigation rapidly expand to Australia, North America, & South America in the late 60's.

Last modified: September 9, 2013


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