Rarely is it the case to use the same drip emitter for every plant. It is more common to combine several different drip emitters. This is not only to accommodate for your plants’ needs, but to maximize your water savings. So which one should you use?

Before we outline the different types of drip emitters, it is important to understand how GPH values affect your drip irrigation system. GPH stands for “gallons per hour” and measures the amount of water flowing through your system. Each household or commercial property has a certain amount of water flowing (PSI). In order to regulate this flow of water, drip emitters need to be installed. Different drip emitters have different GPH values which designate the correct amount of water to your plants. These emitters can have high or low rates built into them. You can follow this set of general rules for choosing your emitter’s GPH values:

  • Use lower flow rates for more clay-type soil to allow time for water to soak in
  • Use higher flow rates for more sandy-type soil
  • Colors on the emitters indicate different GPH (or flow rates)

Pressure Compensating Emitters:

  • Regulate water pressure to a steady desired flow rate despite your main systems’ water pressure.

Pre-Installed Emitter:

Pre-Installed Emitters

  • Punched holes into the drip emitter lines let out water to your plants’ root zones
  • You can install drip lines that are ¼ – ½ pipes with the holes punched 12 – 36 inches apart
  • Or you can punch in the holes yourself with a punching tool (see below)




  • Dripper and spray capabilities are combined.
  • Streams of water squirt out (360 degree coverage)
  • Or a flood of water pouring out (in the shape of an umbrella)
  • Many have the built-in ability to compensate for different GPH/flow rates
  • Coverage can extend to 18 inch diameter
  • Use bubblers for larger plants like roses, tomatoes, and shrubs




  • These are like regular sprinklers but use a lot less water and are much smaller
  • Compared to regular sprinkler, flow rates are low and generally range from 14 – 40
  • Coverage expands 3 – 30 ft. depending on your sprinklers’ flow rate and size
  • They pop-up like regular sprinklers but are connected to drip tubing
  • You can change out the nozzles for these sprinklers like regular ones
  • Because of their higher flow rate compared to other drip emitters, be careful not to install too many sprinklers per zone
  • Use this type of drip emitter for small, unusually-shaped planting beds




  • These micro-sprays like sprinklers – but they do not pop up
  • Some different patterns include 8-20 streams of water in a fan-like spray
  • These nozzles are available in adjustable radius patterns or fixed spray patterns (half-circle, quarter and full)
  • Sprayer flow rates are in the general range of 4 – 34 GPH
  • Use for densely populated shrubs, plants and ground cover

Point Source Emitters:

Point Source Emitters


  • Instead of merely having holes in your tubing, you can direct water more accurately from tubing to plants with point-source emitters
  • There are two types available: self-piercing barbs to punch straight into tubing or threaded ones which require a pre-punched hole before inserting
  • Each point-source emitter allows a pre-set GPH value or flow rate
  • This is helpful if you need to control the amount of water per plant or section of your yard