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Graphic with drip head illustration says "Drip it don't drown it - plants need far less water than grass"

Drip irrigation tips

Drip irrigation is truly beneficial to plants in desert environments. Drip irrigation systems deliver water more slowly and efficiently, and they should run longer but less frequently than sprinkler systems.

The length of each watering should be determined by the emitter flow rate, soil type, and weather conditions.

It's easy to accidentally over-water your plants on drip systems! Use the information on this page to determine the correct run times for your landscape. Looking for tips on designing and maintaining your drip system? Visit SNWA.com for more information and to sign up for a free drip irrigation class.

How often to water

Seasonal watering restrictions apply to customers with drip irrigation systems. While drip irrigation may occur any day of the week, the number of days is limited by season. 

Plants need far less water than grass. Here's how we recommend you run drip irrigation systems during each season:

  • Winter: Once a week or every other week
  • Summer: 2 to 3 days a week
  • Fall and Spring: Once or twice a week

Remember to avoid Sunday watering and comply with seasonal watering restrictions—or face a water waste fine.

Looking for sprinkler tips? 💦

Find out how to get the most from your outdoor water use with these simple sprinkler irrigation tips.

How to water plants with drip irrigation

Drip irrigation is the perfect match for your plants, but running drip too many days a week is the biggest mistake most homeowners make. Drip waters plants long and slow in gallons per hour (gph) and puts water right at the root zone, which means you can water less often.

How long to water

Determine the amount of time to water based on the rate of flow of your drip emitters.

Illustrated animation demonstrating a low flow emitter. Illustrated animation demonstrating a low flow emitter.
How long to water by emitter type.
Emitter type Length of each watering
High-flow emitter (Up to 20 gph) 20 - 40 minutes or less
Low-flow emitter (Up to 4 gph) 30 minutes or less
Low-flow emitter (Up to 2 gph) 60 minutes or less
Low-flow emitter (Up to 1 gph) 90 minutes or less

High-flow or low-flow? Don't know?

  • Low-flow: Beads on tip or drips slowly
  • High-flow: Streams like a water fountain
  • gph: Gallons per hour, often marked on the emitter head. There are many emitter types.