Drip Irrigation Terminology

Drip irrigation can seem like it comes with a language all its own. Knowing the specific drip terminology is important before planning your drip irrigation system.

PSI - Pounds per Square Inch

GPM - Gallons per Minute

GPH - Gallons per Hour

GAL - Gallons

FT - Foot

MHT - Male Hose Threads

FHT - Female Hose Threads

MPT - Male Pipe Threads

FPT - Female Pipe Threads

Timers: aka Hose Timer, Irrigation Timer, Water Timer, Controller & Clock. Timers are used to automate the watering of a drip irrigation system or sprinkler system.

Hose End Timer, Irrigation Controller

Hose End TimerIrrigation Controller

Valves: A manual or electric irrigation device used to control the flow of water. It is used in conjunction with a Irrigation Controller

Irrigation Valve

Ball Valves: aka Shut off valves: Hose thread ball valves are used to shut off individual water lines or to split an existing water source to make two separate connections. Connect to 3/4" hose bibb, faucet, spigot, or garden hose end.

Inline Ball Valve, Y Ball Valve

Inline Ball ValveY Ball Valve

Vacuum Breakers: aka Backflow Preventers: Prevents water from flowing back from your drip irrigation system into your household water. This prevents contamination of your water supply. Most municipalities require backflow prevention devices at the beginning of most irrigation systems.

Hose Vacuum Breaker

Fertilizer Injector:aka Fert Injector: Fertilizer injectors are installed on the drip systems mainline to deliver liquid fertilizers and nutrients. Dilution rate is adjustable, so you can feed your drip system as needed.

Fertilizer Injectors

Filters: aka Hose Filters & Drip Filters: Filters are installed between the hose vacuum breaker and the drip regulator and protects drip emitters, soaker hose dripline, sprayers and bubblers from rust, sand and other impurities that may clog them. Filters have removable screens for easy cleaning.

Inline Hose, Y Filter

Inline Hose FilterY Filter

Pressure Regulators: aka Pressure Reducers: A pressure regulator reduces household water pressure to a lower set pressure for use with a drip system. Always install a regulator after the filter.

Pressure Regulators

Swivel Adapters: aka Tubing Adapters: Use to attach 1/2" or 1/4 mainline drip tubing to a water source connection assembly, hose bibb, spigot, faucet or the end of a garden hose. The swivel end screws onto male hose threads. Drip tubing inserts into the compression, direct-loc or barbed end.

Swivel Adapter1/4Direct-Loc Swivel Adapter

Drip Zone Kit:Preassembled inline drip valve kit for drip irrigation systems. Includes valve, Y style filter and pressure regulator. Its available in 3/4" or 1 pipe threads.

Drip Zone Kit

Water Distribution:

Drip Tubing: aka Poly Tubing, Poly Pipe, Supply Line, Trunk Line: Common term for Polyethylene pipe. Flexible, black tubing used for both drip irrigation main and lateral lines. Emitters can be inserted into tubing or connected via micro tubing. Common sizes are 1/2" (aka 5/8) or 3/4" tubing.

Drip TubingDrip Tubing

Micro Tubing: aka Spaghetti Tubing, Feeder Tubing: 1/4" micro tubing can be used as the main line for small deck/flower-pot installations, but is more often used as a lateral supply line off of 1/2" main line tubing. The micro tubing carries water to emitters (drippers), and micro sprays. Also referred to as "Distribution Tubing" it is available in Polyethylene (PE) or, the more flexible Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC).


Compression Fittings: Fittings used to connect lengths of 1/2" and 3/4" solid drip tubing. The drip tubing is inserted into the compression fitting. The fittings internal compression ring squeezes the tubing slightly making a secure water tight seal. Compression fittings are more of a permanent connection and are not recommended for reuse. Glue or lubricants are not required.

Compression ElbowCompression TeeCompression Coupling

Direct-Loc Fittings: aka Spin Loc, Perma Loc, Easy Loc or Power Loc: Twist barbed fittings onto 1/2" drip poly tubing, twist lock nut to lock tubing in place and make a water tight seal. Removable fittings make it easy to reconfigure your drip system if your needs or landscape designs change. Best fittings for winterizing your drip system unscrew fittings, remove and store tubing away for winter. No glue or Teflon tape required.

Direct-Loc CouplingDirect-Loc ElbowDirect-Loc Tee

Barbed Connectors: aka Micro Connectors: Used to make connections between 1/4 micro tubing or to connect 1/4" micro tubing and 1/4" soaker hose dripline to 1/2" or 3/4" drip poly tubing. Use with a hole punch to attach to 1/2" or 3/4 solid tubing. No glue or lubricants are required.


Stakes: aka Clips & Hold Downs. Plastic or metal stakes used to hold drip tubing in place. Also available in 1/4 or 1/2 mounting clips to attach drip tubing to wood decks, eves, overhangs and fences.

Plastic 1/2Plastic 1/41/2

Watering Devices:

Emitters: aka Drip Emitters, Drippers: Emitters distribute water droplets at a specified flow rate when used as part of a drip irrigation system. Emitters come in a variety sizes, styles, and flow rates. They have barbed or threaded bases. Barbed ends are either poked directly into 1/2" drip tubing or inserted into the end of 1/4" tubing. Threaded bases are screwed into micro tubing stakes and risers.

Pressure Compensating Emitter: Pressure compensating emitters deliver a consistent output of water, even with changes in pressure due to long drip runs or changes in pressure

Button Emitters, Turbo Style Emitters, Self Piercing Emitters with 1/4 barbed inlets

Deluxe PC EmitterTurbo Style EmitterPC Emitter

Multi Outlet & Retro Fit Emitters with 1/2 FPT inlets

Multi Port EmitterRetro Drip Emitter

Non Pressure Compensating Emitters: Non pressure compensating emitters output will vary with changes in elevation and pressure. These emitters are best where the water zone is level.

Flag Emitters, Turbo Key Style Emitters, Inline Emitters with 1/4" barbed ends

Flag EmitterTurbo Key Style EmitterIn Line Emitter

Sprayers: aka Micro Sprays & Jets: Micro spray covers a category of spray caps, bases, one-piece, and adjustable sprayers and bubblers that are small and designed to operate with drip irrigation systems. They can be used for ground cover, flower beds, vegetable gardens and landscapes where you need to water a large area.

Adjustable Sprayers, Stream Bubblers, Micro Sprays, Foggers & Misters with barbed and threaded ends

Adjustable Micro Sprayer61 Piece Micro SprayerMister / Fogger

Tubing Stakes & Risers: Spray Stakes, Rigid Risers: Stakes and risers are use to create adjustable sprayer platforms to raise water above plants, shrubs or ground cover.

13Rigid RiserStake with TubingRiser Adapter

Soaker Hose Dripline: aka Drip Emitter Tubing, Dripper Line & Drip-a-Long: Soaker Hose Dripline has drip emitters injected into the tubing as it is extruded. The tubing comes with emitters evenly spaced from 6 to 12 inches for 1/4 size tubing and 12 to 3 feet for 1/2 size tubing. Its useful in row crops, vegetable gardens and evenly-spaced tree and shrub plantings. It is available in both 1/2" and 1/4" tubing sizes. Soaker hose dripline limits are based on tubing size, emitter output and spacing.

1/4 & 1/2 Soaker Hose Dripline


Hole Punches: aka Tubing Punch: Tool used to punch a hole into solid drip poly tubing for the insertion of drip emitters or 1/4 barbed fittings.

Key Punch, Deluxe Hole Punch, Super Punch

Key PunchDeluxe Hole PunchSuper Punch


Sprinkler irrigation systems are commonly used in lawn irrigation systems and other planted areas where a spray or mist is desirable. For plants that require uniform coverage of water (grass, ground cover, seeds) a sprinkler irrigation system is appropriate.

If you are installing lawn sprinkler irrigation systems, Irrigation Direct carries a variety of supplies and parts like an adjustable nozzles for Rain Bird sprinkler heads. Our shrub adapters are perfect for garden sprinklers and shrub zones.

Combine pop-ups and rotors with electronic sprinkler controllers (timers), and inline valves to automate your landscape sprinkler irrigation system. Browse our Sprinkler System Supplies and Parts to find sprinkler nozzles, bubblers, swing assemblies, cut-off risers, Marlex 90s, and more.


Drip irrigation is a watering method which delivers water to plants slowly and right where they need it at the roots. Where typical pop-up sprinklers spray water into the air and onto plants, drip irrigation systems combine flexible poly drip tubing and drip emitters or "drippers" to both conserve water and save money.

Drip irrigation systems are not affected by wind and will greatly reduce evaporation and runoff common with traditional irrigation systems. Drip irrigation is the perfect solution for raised vegetable garden beds, hanging baskets, and potted plants.

Learn how to plan, design, and install your own Drip Irrigation System with our FREE online Drip Irrigation Tutorials.

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