Basic drip irrigation setup questions

I am re-doing the drip irrigation in my yard this season. After talking to a few folks and scouring on the internet, I found a few good resources. I was thinking of separating fruit trees, berries/vines and vegetable raised beds into individual zones. I’d also like to have the ability to adjust or turn off water for some of the trees (for e.g to practice water deficit before harvest). I was initially thinking of a setup like this for my few rows of fruit trees in a single zone. This is very similar to @Stan’s post here - Help with drip line and fruit trees - #9 by Stan

The clouds are the individual trees. Main line is 3/4" poly snaked with 1/4" spaghetti tubes ending with adjustable drippers like these.

However, I see many sources advising not to use 1/4" spaghetti tubes as they become a maintenance hassle.

The problem with attaching the emitters/drippers directly on the mainline is then I have to run double the length of the line as in the above setup to reach each tree. Also, it won’t be easy to move the location of the drippers when the trees grow every year (I know goof plugs exist, but its much easier to move the small tube than to replug on the main line).

I am curious to know others’ opinions on using these 1/4" tubes. Is it really that much of a hassle to get go off all the benefits from it?

FYI for others looking for good reference for setting up backyard drip irrigation this is a great resource


I don’t find the spaghetti lines to be any more hassle then the rest of it. I go smaller than that and use 1/8" polyethylene micro tubing straight off the main line. In some ways the much smaller lines are easier because there is no need for an emitter on the end. No need for any fittings at all other than a weight on the end. Sometimes they clog but it’s easy enough to pop on a new line.

When you want to stop watering a particular tree you just pick up the line(s) that feed that tree and move it to another tree.


If there is no emitter, wouldn’t there be more flow closer to the source and much less at the end of the main line? I thought thats the basic function of the emitter, to ensure constant flow (to a limit)

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I’ve used 1/8" lines with spot spitters on them, or sometimes 1/4" to a T that steps down to 2 1/8" lines with the spitters on them for my container figs.

I think spot spitters are fabulous, since they are just such a simple design, they’re super cheap and you can just reverse them to turn off that particular line as well as change them out for different flow rates as needed. So, for instance, with the figs, I could use different size spot spitters in different size containers. They are even available in different spray patterns. I use the regular size ones, but you can use the tall or short ones depending on your needs.


I did look at spot spitters but they seem to be more suited for pots. The adjustable bubbler seems more appropriate for in-ground trees with more control per tree. It’s not ideal to use different flow rates for different trees in the same zone, but I only see myself changing flow rates of a few trees at any one time (than the default)

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When you get into the tiny sized pipe, you could even put a tee with a valve in it to any tree that needed adjustment.


Yes, shorter lines closer to the pressure source run a bit faster. Nature of the beast. As long as you have enough pressure to fully pressure the entire run it’s not that big a problem in my experience. You can counter this somewhat by making the closer lines a bit longer if you are concerned about overwatering. In my application a bit more water isn’t a problem. If I needed to really dial it to an exact number per line I’d probably use bigger lines and calibrated drip emitters.


Anything more than the absolute minimum is a problem here in CA. Not for the trees themselves but I’m on city water and as such it is so much restricted on how much and when we can water, given the drought.

You may wish to split that 3/4" line somewhere, so you have 2 branches in parallel instead of a single line in series. Something like making a ‘F’ instead of a ‘C’ shape

Depending on how cheap your equipment is and what your source pressure is you may have some flow issues between the closest emitter and the farthest. 2 branches equalizes that more, and if you end up having pressure issues you can put a valve at the branch split and run one branch or the other each watering period.

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Thanks. That’s a very good tip. My source is city water and after pressure regulator I should expect about 25 psi (I’ll confirm that soon). I’m using 3/4” poly main line and I should expect 480 feet run length and 480 gallon flow rate (given adequate flow at the source).

Given the number of trees (40) and I’m electing to have 1 or 0.5 gph emitters (two per tree), I should be able to cover everything in one zone. If I don’t see enough flow at the end of the line, I’ll switch to two zones.

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I found this pipe flow chart online and saved it for reference. It might help you to decide on your pressure regulator usage and where to place it. At 3/4" you might be pushing it at 25 psi at the end of your run. I bought an rv pressure regulator to reduce to 45/50 or so psi so I didn’t damage my equipment, but my run is only about 120 feet max. I bought one similar to number 10 on that list, I think at home depot.

Sprinkler Warehouse was helpful for me deciding what I wanted to buy from them after explaining my design specs. I ended up getting mostly stuff similar to this “Rain Bird HE-VAN High Efficiency Adjustable Nozzle 8 ft | HE-VAN8” because of the higher efficiency nozzles.
All that said I haven’t Installed my system yet to I really don’t know what I am doing either, just learning as I go.

This thread might be helpful to you as well.

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Thanks. I was looking for this chart. I only saw the simplified one from dripdepot below. They don’t explicitly mention pressure in the table, but I assumed it would be at 25 PSI as most emitters are rated for that.

In the table you mentioned, I looked up flow rate for 3/4" plastic pipe, 20 psi (25 isnt available), 200’ run length = 8 GPM or 480 GPH. However, this is the flow rate at the end of the run. The table above says 480 GPH for 480’ run length for 3/4" tube. I am assuming this is taking into account 25 psi, pressure-controlled drippers along the length of the tube and other variables. 200’ run length is what I am looking for and my capacity need for now is around 100 GPH. Am I reading it wrong?

Those were problems I had with my first two attempts.

The first was just a bunch of 1/8" line in 2 branches, and the drippers I used ended up with a huge output difference between the first dripper in each branch and the last.

Next year I ran a 1/2" backbone in 4 branches, and then I found out I didn’t have the pressure to run it even after removing the pressure regulator. So I had to put in a pair of twist valves at the first split.

Supposedly you can get pressure compensating emitters that fix the first problem, but neither of mine did so even though I think the second set was supposed to. I’m just watering 20 or so pots so I went pretty cheap and small scale though.

I may has missed a previous discussion about this but I will go ahead and ask. I have heard that for even pressure and greatest efficiency throughout a drip system you make the system a complete loop from the source out to the drip area and then back to the source. Does anyone do this or know if it matters with or without pressure compensating emitters? And, should this matter at all with pressure compensating emitters?