Say no to goof, yes to smart

Goof plugs, designed to repair holes in drip lines where emitters are removed, are notoriously leak-prone. Conversely, smart plugs, the term coined for a new creation borne of sustainability, are leak-proof.

Goof plugs fail often and fail big. The 2nd worst drip irrigation leak, they can pop from a drip line to boldly spray 125 gallons/hour. Or they can be loose in the emitter hole to stealthily leak 10 gallons/hour each irrigation cycle, discovered only by close inspection, when plants die, or never.

Professional gardeners often leave unused emitters in place, preferring the certainty of their ongoing drips to the risk of goof plug gushers. Both options on the left in the above photo are problematic. Smart plugs handily prevent unused emitters’ inordinate wastes and goof plugs’ insidious leaks. Shown on the right, the emitter remains in place corked by a short piece of spaghetti with a goof plug.

While simple in design, smart plugs ingeniously compensate for goof plugs’ failings. An emitter’s output is a mere drip, so drip line pressure that can pop a goof plug is irrelevant. The emitter is not pulled, so its hole can’t grow to cause a loose goof plug. Originally conceived as a temporary stopper until dead plants were replaced, the creation works so well that it is now our go-to plug for all situations.

How smart is that?


  • 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.
  • Goof plugs are small plastic plugs that fill holes left behind in drip lines when emitters are removed.
  • Spaghetti is small diameter tubing that distributes water to a plant not adjacent to drip lines.

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