Home > Design & Install > Designing Your Drip Irrigation System

When you start designing a drip irrigation system, start by figuring out what you’ll need.  Then through this series of videos, we’ll help you put together a system King Solomon himself would be proud of. So get a pen and paper handy.  We’re about to design your drip system. Alfred Castillo here, the Sprinkler Warehouse Pro.  Let’s get started.

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First make a list of what plants trees and shrubs, etcetera that you’d like to water with your drip system. Then draw a rough diagram of the area you’d like to water. Artistic skills are not required. Now let’s see how many emitters you need.  Emitters are the little doodads that drip the water onto the ground near your plant.

What Type Of Drip Emitter Do Perennials Need?

You’ll want at least two emitters near the base of each little green darling, 0.5-gallon, i.e. half-gallon per hour flow rate. Perennials usually require about two gallons of water a week. But that can vary depending on the size and species of your plant and the quality of your soil.   Don’t let the decisions you’re making here overwhelm you.  You can quite easily adjust the flow rate, add extra emitters or remove emitters even long after you’ve installed the system.  Nothing here is set in stone.  You’ll make adjustments depending on how your plants respond.

Drip Emitters For Shrubs & Trees

On to shrubs and trees. Here we’ll place two emitters, the one gallon per hour type, twelve inches from the base of each tree and shrub five feet or shorter. A shrub taller than five feet should have three one-gallon emitters.

A tree between 5 and 10 feet in height will need two to three 2-gallon emitters. Trees between 10 and 15 feet will need two 4-gallon emitters. Between 15 and 25 use four 4-gallon emitters. Trees taller than 25-feet are not the best candidates for drip irrigation.

Drip Irrigation For Flower Beds

For all the green stuff growing close together, you’ll utilize emitter tubing or soaker hoses.  These water an area of four to six inches on both sides of the hose.  These are also fantastic if you’re doing a vegetable garden in rows.  For those areas draw on your diagram the hose you think you’ll need.  Then head outside and measure the length of hose your bed or garden will require.

Now we haven’t discussed emitter types or hose types yet.  We’ll get to all that in another video. (Here’s the link to an article about drip emitter types.) If you’re using a drip line, emitter tubing, or soaker hose, we’ll have a separate video on how to determine your gallons per hour flow rate.

Determine The Required Flow Rate For Your Drip Irrigation System

It’s important that we determine the gallons per hour flow rate needed for our system.  If we overtax our system it won’t work effectively and your plants will feel neglected and nobody likes a sad hydrangea…

Count how many of each emitter you have grouped by flowrate.  So in this diagram, I have twenty-five half-gallon-per-hour emitters.  Fifty, 1-gallon per hour emitters and twenty 4-gallon per hour emitters.

Time to start figuring. That’s twenty-five times 0.5 equals 12.5-gallons per hour. Fifty times 1-gallon per hour equals 50-gallons per hour. And twenty times 4 equals 80-gallons per hour. Add those together and I get 142-gallons per hour. I wonder if my home flow rate is enough? Most homes have a flow rate of 200-gallons per hour, so I’m probably fine.

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Remember,  Sprinkler Warehouse has everything for your irrigation needs. So, your trees, lawn, flower beds, and gardens are lush and beautiful. And if you have any questions about our products chat with one of our incredible customer service agents on Sprinkler Warehouse dot com. They really know their stuff and they’ll get you squared away. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to learn more about irrigation and sprinkler systems. For Sprinkler Warehouse, I’m Alfred Castillo, your Sprinkler Warehouse Pro!