University of California
UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County
Key considerations when implementing a drip system
- Topography: This refers to land surfaces—hills, slopes, north/south orientation, valleys, rivers, lakes, (natural or artificial features)or buildings. All of these affect air and water flow and can create microclimates in your own yard.
- Drip is excellent for watering sloped gardens because the slow rate of water applied through drip irrigation means it is more likely to soak in before it runs off.
- Be sure to align your system with the contour of hills, not vertically. Install inline drip above plants on the hill.
Drip lines in planted bed with slope show downhill movement of emitted water on the slope. Photo courtesy of The Plant Shed, Dallas-Fort Worth, TX.
- Size of landscape: The design of the system involves laying out the zones or garden beds, determining the amount and frequency of water needed for each zone, devising a drip layout for each zone, and designing a watering program to match those water needs.
- Maximum zone sizes: Main drip line runs of ½” tubing should be limited to about 200’ in a single zone, shorter for abnormally low water pressure (under about 20-25 psi). Make sure that one zone and valve are not being asked to drive too many emitters which would result in inadequate water reaching all plants in the zone.
- DIY vs hiring someone to install: While requiring some time and effort, a properly designed and installed drip irrigation system will save considerable water and money and make the job of watering the garden easier. To find a professional to install a drip system, consult a list of trained Qualified Efficient Water Landscapers at this link: