What Size Irrigation System Do I Need?

November 15, 2023

Smart,Farmer,Using,Tablet,Control,For,Irrigation,System,Working,WateringWhen it comes to setting up an irrigation system for your garden or lawn, determining the right size is crucial. An appropriately-sized irrigation system ensures that water is efficiently distributed to your plants without wasting resources. In this blog post, we will discuss the factors to consider when determining the size needed for your irrigation system, including the required piping sizes.

1. Evaluate Your Water Source:

The first step in determining the size of your irrigation system is to assess your water source. You need to know the flow rate and pressure of your water supply. By measuring the flow rate and pressure, you can determine the capacity of your system and ensure it aligns with your water source.

2. Calculate the Water Requirements:

The next step is to calculate the water requirements of your plants or lawn. Different plants have different water needs. Factors such as plant type, soil type, climate, and sun exposure impact the amount of water required. Research the water requirements of your plants and estimate the quantity needed. This calculation will help determine the capacity of your irrigation system.

3. Consider Zone-based Irrigation:

It’s common to split your garden into different irrigation zones based on plant types or watering needs. Zones allow you to adjust watering schedules and customize irrigation for different areas. For example, if you have a vegetable garden, it might require more frequent watering than your lawn. By designing a zone-based irrigation system, you can cater to the unique needs of each zone, resulting in optimal water usage.

4. Determine the Operating Pressure:

The operating pressure of your irrigation system is crucial for efficient water distribution. Insufficient pressure can result in weak or inadequate watering, while excessive pressure can cause damage to your plants or the irrigation system. To determine the operating pressure, consider the difference in elevation between your water source and the highest point of your irrigation system. This value, known as “pressure head,” is essential in deciding the appropriate pressure for your system.

5. Select the Right Pipe Size:

Choosing the correct pipe size is vital for maintaining the desired water flow and minimizing pressure loss. The pipe size you need depends on the water flow rate and pressure of your irrigation system. Generally, irrigation systems use two types of pipes: mainline pipes and lateral pipes. Mainline pipes carry water from the source to the irrigation zones, while lateral pipes deliver water within the zones. Both should be sized to accommodate the water demand and minimize friction loss.

6. Friction Loss Considerations:

Friction loss refers to the reduction in water pressure as it flows through the pipes. This loss occurs due to friction between the water and the pipe interior. To minimize friction loss, it is crucial to select the right pipe diameter. Larger pipe diameters reduce friction loss, increase water flow rate, and maintain better water pressure throughout the system. However, opting for an excessively large pipe can result in unnecessary expenses. Calculating friction loss based on pipe diameter, water flow rate, and pipe length will guide you in making the most appropriate choice.

7. Seek Professional Advice:

Determining the size of your irrigation system and selecting the right pipe sizes can be overwhelming. Seeking professional advice from an experienced irrigation specialist or landscape designer can simplify the process. They have the knowledge and expertise to assess your unique situation and recommend the best irrigation system and pipe sizes tailored to your needs.


Determining the size of your irrigation system is crucial for efficient water distribution and plant health. By evaluating your water source, calculating water requirements, considering zone-based irrigation, determining operating pressure, selecting the right pipe size, considering friction loss, and seeking professional advice, you can design an efficient and effective irrigation system that meets the needs of your plants and lawn. Remember, a well-planned irrigation system not only conserves water but also ensures the optimal growth and health of your landscape.

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Welcome to B&M Pump Irrigation Sales & Service, Inc.! We are your professional irrigation specialist! Our typical services include complete pump service, water well service, system design, and pivot systems. Here at B&M Pump Irrigation Sales & Service, Inc., we deliver personal service and reliability to our customers in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. No matter where you are in the southwest, B&M Pump Irrigation Sales & Service, Inc., is a name you can trust. We strive to educate owners and operators on making pumps and motors last longer and work more efficiently. We sell good quality products at a fair price and stand behind the products we sell. Give us a call today to speak with one of our service experts today!

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