Nix spaghetti connectors

Steer clear of spaghetti connectors routinely used to transfer water from a drip line to a plant several inches away. While these barbed fittings look innocuous, they cause more waste than any other drip irrigation part. Instead, try two leak-proof solutions I devised that perform flawlessly.

The problematic three-part standard is: 1.) ¼” connector inserted into drip line, 2) ¼” tubing attached to reach plant, 3.) emitter inserted in tubing’s other end to apply water at plant. All too often, tubing detaches from its connector when stepped on, irrigation starts with a jolt, or as it ages. Hundreds of gallons are wasted as water shoots from the connector’s 1/4″ hole rather than the emitter’s slow drip.

I found over a hundred spaghetti leaks since early 2014 by diagnosing a wet area, tracing unexpected water use, or seeing a fountain erupt high into the air. The waste was disheartening. In the 10 minutes one zone ran before I saw and fixed the issue, 70 gallons were lost. That’s equivalent to 50 low-flow toilet flushes, or 15 start and stop showers.

I studied Rainbird and Hunter Industries, discovering mind-numbing 100+page ‘basic guides’ and grass expanses with golf-course-caliber sprays. Then I found Irrigation Tutorials and read, among other pearls: “I love spaghetti to eat, but I hate it for use in drip systems! The problem with these small tubes is with maintenance. These little tubes tend to be easily cut, broken, pulled loose, etc. and are generally a nuisance.

Research for alternatives was fruitless. Putting my engineering hat on, I realized the problem was connectors. These two solutions simply eliminate them and have proven to be leak-free:

  • SOLUTION #1. Reroute regular drip line to place emitters by each plant. While the best approach overall, this may not be feasible for an isolated plant, which is where Solution #2 comes into play.

Rerouted drip line

  • SOLUTION #2: Reach remote plants with tubing attached to an emitter at the drip line. Tubing stays put better on an emitter, and if it did detach, waste would be the emitter’s drip, not the connector’s 1/4″ hole.



  • Drip lines convey water from the source to the plant material.
  • Emitters disperse water dripped at a controlled rate from drip lines to plant material. A great range of design types exist, with sizes from 0.5, 1, 2, 4, and even more gallons per hour.
  • Spaghetti is small diameter tubing that distributes water to a plant not adjacent to drip lines.
  • Connectors are small fittings that attach spaghetti to drip lines or to other spaghetti.