Drip Irrigation Techniques


In areas where conservation of resources such as water is important, the effort and expense of drip irrigation pays dividends. The delivery technique is easy to use, requires little supervision and delivers as much water as plants need.


The original drip irrigation was a "soaker" hose, punctured at various intervals to deliver drips. Today's systems are pinned into turf or soil with only the emitters standing above the surface of the ground.


Drip irrigation, also called micro-irrigation, uses a system of plastic pipes pierced by heads called "emitters" that deliver measured amounts of water to specific locations. The system can be set up in irregular shapes to follow curved borders or go around building corners.


Emitters are pressure-sensitive or pressure-compensating: Pressure sensitive emitters increase flow as water pressure increases, while compensating emitters adjust flow so that output is consistent. Some emitters drip, some spray and some bubble.


Systems may be set up in lines, Y shapes or star shapes. Each system must be individually designed to ensure that all lines maintain the same water pressure along their "runs."


Systems require back-flow controllers, pressure regulators to step down household water pressure and filters to keep lines and emitters dirt-free.


Drip irrigation techniques may not be appropriate for some uses. Large trees and gardens in sandy soil may require more water than this type of system may be able to deliver.


  • Colorado State University Extension: Drip Irrigation for Home Gardens
  • Irrigation Tutorials: Drip Irrigation Design Guidelines

Who Can Help

  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.: Drip Irrigation
Keywords: drip irrigation techniques, water delivery, resource conservation

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.