How Does Drip Irrigation Work

The most effective method for the distribution of nutrients and water to plants that are being grown is called drip irrigation.

It does this by delivering nutrients and water directly to the plant’s root zone at the correct time and in the appropriate proportions. This will allow each plant to receive precisely what it needs and when it needs it to flourish to its full potential.

It enables farmers to generate larger yields using less energy, fertilizer, and water than they would otherwise need.

How Does a Drip Irrigation System Work?

Drip irrigation systems share common parts, regardless of variety. Understanding the components that make up these systems is key to grasping how they function.

Tubes, tape, and pipes

Your system relies heavily on polyethylene tubing. The quantity you’ll need may vary with your garden’s size. Thankfully, it’s the cheapest component of a drip irrigation system.

The water is piped to each plant via the tubing system. Emitters then allow the water to seep into the ground below. There are two main types of tubing: those with predrilled holes and those where you can make your own.

Pre-drilled holes can be any distance from 6 inches to 18 inches. In cases of rough ground or long rows, emitter tubing is the way to go.

You can use drip tape as an alternative to tubes. Drip tape is a thin, hole-punctuated tape that is cheap and easy to use. It does not hold up as well as the tubing and needs frequent fixing.

You can easily mold drip tape to fit raised beds or a curvy plot. Tape is suitable for gravity feed systems since it can function with minimal water pressure.

Generally, you should create a joint at each corner unless you’re using tape or a soaker hose, which is more flexible.

Gauges, filters, and valves

You’ll find the valves between the source of water and the emitter pipes that release the water. Turning them on or off controls the water pressure.

You can set the valves on a timer to control the flow automatically. Install hydraulic valves at the connections to control the flow of water.

To prevent buildup, place the filters in front of your valve. When collecting rainwater from a rooftop, filters are essential. This is because the water could contain debris or dirt particles.

The readings on your gauges can determine the water pressure in your irrigation system.


You’ll want a master switch or control panel at the end. This can range from a straightforward human setup to an advanced automated computer system.

Water Source

Drip irrigation systems require a supply of water, which might come from a well, a cistern, a tank, or a tap.

Depending on the availability of water, your setup will be different. For those who use well or municipal water, a pressure control regulator or valve is necessary to regulate the water pressure before it enters the tubes.

Many of us who live in the country must rely on wells and cisterns instead of county or city water. To water the garden, create a drip irrigation system that is gravity-fed and fed by a rain barrel or cistern. However, you need a pump for city water or well water.


By controlling the water flow, you can evenly water every garden section. Simply put, regulators eliminate the possibility of pressure spikes in the lines.


The holes in your tubing can serve as emitters, or you can use a separate emitter plug. A plug is a plastic component that inserts into the tube like a miniature sprinkler head. They come in handy when you need high water pressure and regulation.

How long should you leave drip hose on?

Begin soaking your lawn and garden twice a week for 30 minutes each. Check the soil depth after a day of watering to be sure the water reaches several inches down.

When you’ve figured out how long to water for optimal growth, set a timer so you always water at the same time.

How many emitters can I put on a drip line?

What are emitters?

Emitters are specialized irrigation tools that can be set to deliver just the right amount of water to a specific area or plant.

Emitter flow rate and line pressure determine how many emitters you can connect to a drip line. A single dripline might have anything from 10 to 50 emitters.

Make sure you space drip line emitters about one meter apart, and generally, up to 2 emitters are needed to water a plant adequately. Water pressure problems and blockages are more likely to occur in a system with more than one emitter per meter.

The number of emitters you can attach to a drip line depends on several parameters.

See how these variables impact the total number of emitters you consider.


Pressure settings for drip irrigation systems typically range from 10 to 30 psi. 10-psi drip systems can use only a third as many emitters as their 30-psi counterparts.

Specialty emitters, such as sprinkler-like rotating and spraying emitters, need higher water pressure than regular drip emitters. However, you can have half as many of these specialty emitters per line.

Flow Rate

Drip emitters are available with a wide range of outputs. Using emitters with a reduced flow rate, say half a gallon per hour, allows more emitters to be installed. You can use up to 50 half-gal/h emitters on a 30-psi drip system.

Twenty-five is the maximum number of emitters you can have if your flow rate exceeds 5 gal/h. The pressure in the system will only allow for roughly 10 emitters, even at greater flow rates like 10 gal/h.

How many times a week should you run drip irrigation?

Drip irrigation is an efficient method of watering the garden and plants. When setting up an irrigation system, you need to find a way to irrigate the plants without flooding the soil or wasting water. When it comes to your drip irrigation system, how long should it be on?

It’s recommended to water trees that demand a lot of water for one and a half hours twice monthly, to a depth of 12 inches.

Watering a flower bed for one hour twice a week could be necessary. Drip irrigation watering schedules vary from plant to plant and emitter to emitter.

Does drip irrigation use a lot of water?

Drip irrigation is efficient since it uses so little water. For every 100 to 200 plants, you’ll need around 40 to 80 liters of water daily. The minimal amount of water helps prevent the growth of weeds and keeps soil nutrients from washing away.

Compared to traditional irrigation systems, drip irrigation can lower a farm’s water use by as much as sixty percent while increasing crop yield by ninety percent.

Does drip irrigation work for all plants?

Vine crops, flowering trees, and row crops (soft fruit, vegetables), where one or more emitters can be given for each plant. They are also ideal candidates for drip irrigation.

Due to the significant initial investment required, drip irrigation systems are typically reserved for high-value crops.

Does drip irrigation go above or below the ground?

You can use drip irrigation either above or below the ground. This kind of irrigation reduces wasteful water and nutrient runoff because you only use a small amount of water at a time.

What are the advantages of drip irrigation?

The following are some of the advantages of employing drip irrigation:

  • It keeps the soil from washing away and the nutrients from washing away in the rain.
  • The plants thrive because the water goes to their roots, where they can absorb it.
  • There is no need to cut into the main water line because you can connect drip lines straight through the garden hose spigot.
  • Drip irrigation’s targeted deep watering eliminates overwatering, which can promote disease and weeds.
  • Drip irrigation systems are adaptable, allowing placement in various settings, including raised beds, irregularly shaped garden beds, and containers.
  • Overspray and evaporation are not problems with drip irrigation systems.
  • It has a low water footprint and avoids needless irrigation.
  • It doesn’t need any special tools or excavation to set up.

Drip Irrigation Kits

Irrigation kits are available on the internet and might be a great resource if you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of putting it all together. Everything necessary for home gardening comes with this set.

Kits have the drawback of not tailoring their components to your specific environment. However, for those unfamiliar with drip irrigation, it is a viable solution.

DIY at home drip irrigation 

Drip irrigation is simple for home gardeners, commercial greenhouses, and farms. It’s also helpful in places with a water shortage.

Big tasty tomatoes, cotton, strawberries, berries, coconuts, maize, sugarcane, citrus, and grapes can all benefit from drip watering at their roots.

Use a backflow converter and controller in the mainline for optimal performance. You can also use a filter. The filter will prevent any unwanted debris from entering the water-filled tube. Add a pressure regulator to it to manage the water pressure.

Plants receive water and nutrients from a drainage system that works properly. For plant life, water is the most crucial nutrient. When water is dispersed uniformly, it encourages plant growth.

A drip irrigation system will provide uniform watering for your plants. Verify the accuracy of the installation. Remember to use sustainable resources. You can expect a satisfying gardening experience with this method.