I work with gardening in several different ways. I have a small vegetable garden at home and always try to have a few tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers etc.
I also have been volunteering for about 5 years (as of 2015) at the Urban Ministries Garden in Charlotte. I have a pretty free reign to decide what gets planted and where. I strive for straight rows. I also established a water source a long time ago and most of the watering was done by hand. It was a long way from the water faucet and the hose was very heavy. Watering became a very big deal.
Now we have the entire garden under drip irrigation. Each section can be cut off independently. I ran a pressure test on the system just a few weeks ago, and we can water the entire garden on one zone. Our emitters are one gallon inline emitters and deliver very accurate number of gallons consistently at both the beginning and the end of the system.
Our system is run from a 10,000 gallon storage tank that collects water from the Urban Ministry roofs. At the moment there is no gauge on the tank to tell us the number of gallons remaining, and we are working on a solution for that. With a drought like we have now, it would be possible to run out of rainwater. If that happens, we can reconnect to the potable water supply, but for lots of reasons we would prefer not to do that.
Many people use soaker hoses and there the greatest volume of water is at the beginning of the system and tapers off at the end. It is not nearly as efficient as well designed drip irrigation emitters. We used Netafim drip irrigation in line emitter that deliver 1 gallon per hour between a pressure of 8 to 50 psi..
Drip irrigation is excellent for watering large containers that have ornamentals planted in them. There are some tricks for that so go to Residential Drip Irrigation to see some details about setting up drip for pots.