Before you know it, spring will be here and take care of your lawn will once again become a priority. Keeping your lawn properly watered, especially throughout the hottest months, can be quite a chore. A sprinkler system can help ensure the health of your lawn and take the guesswork out of whether it is receiving the correct amount of water. However, there are some things to know before purchasing a sprinkler system for your lawn.
One of the key things to know before purchasing a sprinkler system is that it must be connected to an outdoor spigot. If you don’t have one available, you’ll need to have one installed by a professional plumber.
Water pressure plays an important part in how your sprinkler system performs. Insufficient water pressure can wreak havoc with your system and cause areas of your lawn to be watered unevenly. Too much pressure can overpower your pumps. It is essential that your system is regulated to maximize its efficiency.
Have an Available Power Source
Your sprinkler system’s control unit needs to be connected to a power source. Ideally, this unit is located in a utility room or the garage. The system’s solenoids are controlled by low-voltage wiring. The solenoids are an important part of your system because each one is responsible for regulating a specific zone in your yard.
Dealing with Tree Roots
Tree roots can complicate your sprinkler installation. Despite the best planning, your installation may take longer than expected if tree roots are encountered. When creating your sprinkler layout, the installation team will attempt to avoid roots that could potentially interfere with your lines and heads in the future.
What Goes into Planning Sprinkler Layout
Different areas of your yard are considered when planning where to place sprinkler heads and how to configure each area that each head will water, along with adjusting the water spray. Care needs to be taken to ensure that areas like sidewalks aren’t excessively watered because they could become slippery, leaving you open to liability issues if someone falls. The installer will adjust the sprinkler heads to prevent the stream of water from hitting your home and patio/porch areas.
Best Time of Day for Watering
You want your sprinkler system set to water your lawn during the morning rather than at night. Watering at night can lead to mold and mildew growth because of increased moisture. By watering in the morning, any excess moisture will evaporate in the sunlight.
The Importance of Winterization
Even in North Texas, there is always the possibility of sudden cold snaps throughout the winter. Before purchasing a sprinkler system, remember that it will require winterization and startup in the spring. Winterization prevents damage from the freezing of water that may be present in the system’s water lines and valves. Water expands as it freezes and can cause lines to burst. Springtime startup is a good time to make any adjustments and replace any malfunctioning parts in your system.
If you keep in mind these things to know before purchasing a sprinkler system for your lawn, you will have a more satisfactory experience.
Sprinkler System Installation
Now that you’re in the know, let’s plan your sprinkler system install and keep your yard looking great all year!
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It’s easy to make a homemade sprinkler for your lawn and garden from a plastic soft drink bottle, here’s how.
How to make a sprinkler:
- Drill 1/8″ diameter holes in the side of a plastic, two-liter soda bottle.
Watch this video to find out more.
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- Repairing a Broken Garden Hose (article)
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Joe Truini: The next time you need to water a newly planted tree or flowerbed or grass seed, and you don’t have a sprinkler, you have a few options. You can go out and buy one, you can borrow one from a neighbor, or you can make one from an empty soda jug.
This is just a two-liter soda jug that I drilled three eight-inch-diameter holes in it. Then I attached a female-to-female hose fitting on the end.
First I wrapped the threads of the bottle in Teflon tape, because the threads of the fitting don’t exactly match the bottle threads. This way you’ll get a watertight seal. Then you simply attach it. With this fitting, it allows you to attach the bottle right to the end of the garden hose.
And then you just set it into your flowerbed or near your shrubs, as we are here, with the holes facing out a little bit. And get it in position. OK, turn on the water.
Last Updated: October 8, 2020 References
This article was co-authored by Mike Garcia. Mike Garcia is a Licensed Landscape Contractor and the Founder of Enviroscape LA, a full-service landscape design and construction firm in Los Angeles, California. With over 30 years of experience, Mike specializes in sustainable landscape practices. Mike holds an Ornamental Horticulture degree, C-27 Landscape Contractor and D-49 Tree Service Contractor licenses, and Permaculture Design, California Naturalist, International Certified Professional Pond Contractor, and Pond Building certifications. He is one of eight Internationally Certified Pond Builders in the world. Enviroscape LA has won landscape and water feature awards from the International Professional Pond Contractors Association (IPPCA), National Association of Pond Professionals (NAPP), and the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA). Mike is a past president of the CLCA and currently serves on their local Board of Directors. Enviroscape LA has been featured in PONDS USA Magazine, Pond and Garden Lifestyles Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. Mike has appeared on Extreme Home Makeover, HGTV’s Landscapers Challenge, and A & E’s series Fix That Yard.
There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
This article has been viewed 312,060 times.
Installing a sprinkler system will allow you to water areas that would otherwise wither and dry out in dry seasons. Evaluate the size and shape of the area(s) you plan to water and determine which sprinkler types are most effective for your situation. Keep in mind that you can use multiple types of sprinkler heads. Then, dig out the trenches and install the pipes and control manifold. You should be able to purchase all of the necessary supplies at a large hardware store or home-improvement store.
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Are you planning on installing a sprinkler system in your garden yard and are confused as to where to even begin? We wrote this guide in colorful easy to follow steps that will walk you through a step by step guide on how to install a sprinkler system.
You need not be scared about this project, installing a sprinkler system can be a DIY project that will save you lots of money. Doing it yourself can be very cost effective because sprinkler components and accessories available today are much easy to work with and maintain.
However, if you must install a sprinkler system, the importance of adequate preparation can’t be overemphasized. Digest theses outlined steps below before you venture into this project.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Make the Right Contacts
The first step to installing an underground sprinkler system is to make the right contacts with local authorities and water companies within your area for building permits and codes for backflow prevention devices. The devices are required to protect your underground water supply from contamination.
Step 2: Outline your Property to Scale
Draw and outline your property plainly in a graph sheet. A small square on your graph sheet should represent one square foot on the actual property. To get this right, you need to use a tape measure to outline your property properly. Remember to:
- Measure and draw your property to scale
- Identify areas of obstacles like trees slops.
- Accurately measure the perimeter of your property showing grass, flower beds and landscaping
- Lastly, identify the soil type i.e. Sandy, loamy or clay.
Step 3: Handy Information Sheets
Next, you need to construct a small information sheet where you will take records of all your prep requirements. Without which you might miss out on a lot of things.
- Firstly, determine the level of water pressure at your outdoor faucet using a standard pressure gauge. Screw the pressure gauge to the water meter ensuring that no other faucet is running indoors or outdoors. Record this information on your information sheet.
- Ensure you record the meter size on your information sheet too.
- Next, you need to identify and record the supply line type. Supply lines are either Galvanized, copper or PVC. PVC’s are white, copper has a unique copper color while galvanized lines are generally silver in color.
- Next record and identify the supply line size on your information sheet.
Step 4: Determine the Type of Pipes Needed
Now that you have major information recorded in your information sheet, the next thing you need to do is use the information you have to determine the type of pipe to use. The most popular pipes in stores are PVC and polyethylene pipes. Some people even use rubber garden hoses or stainless steel garden hoses while installing a sprinkler system.
Step 5: Lawn and Garden Preparation
Now that you have major information all laid out, time to prepare the garden for irrigation. Divide your property into sections or zones marking out areas like the front lawn, flowerbeds and side lawns. Draw this on a sheet of paper
Label all areas correctly in your yard that you want watered. There are two most commonly used types of sprinkler heads available, Impact Sprinklers and Oscillating Sprinklers. Read our guide linked with them to choose the best products for your irrigation needs.
Step 6: Layering Sprinklers, valves, and Pipes
Time to prepare and plan on where to place your sprinklers, valves, and pipes.
- Now that you have your garden yard all mapped out into sections, you need to plan the sprinkler locations and heads in such a way that water from one sprinkler reaches the other sprinklers. This way all areas for your garden will get watered
- For smaller areas choose a small to medium area sprinklers. For larger areas choose medium to large area sprinklers. Remember to overlap sprinklers head-to-head to space them out evenly.
- By now you ought to know your home’s water capacity. Knowing your home’s water capacity will give you an idea of how many sprinklers can run at once.
- Now you know how many sprinklers can be run by your home’s water capacity, it’s time to divide your home into zones.
- Zoning your home into regions of sprinkler heads will help you draw in the pipes and number of valves needed.
- Remember that for every valve you install on each zone you will need a valve control system in place.
- Next in this section, now that you know how many valves and sprinkler heads you require it’s time to draw out the pipes you need. Once you have the pipes drawn out on paper count how many feet of pipe you require to cover the yard.
- Lastly, order extra pipes, valves and sprinkler head in case anything goes wrong or you misjudged in your calculation.
Step 7: Timer Location
Installing a timer system with your irrigation sprinklers is an absolute necessity. You need timers to help regulate the valve stations. Timers and valve controllers are sited where they can be easily accessed. A place like a garage or basement is a very good place to start. WiFi sprinkler controllers are frequently used these days for controlling sprinkler systems.
If you have six valves, buy 7 to 8 strands of wire. One strand per value and an extra 1 or 2 strands for connection to the timer system.
Step 8: Install the Pipes, Sprinklers and Connect to Water Supply
Now that you have planned properly, and are better informed on what you need to buy. It’s time to go shopping for the required equipment. Take along your information sheet and the graphical sketch of your property layout to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Once you have bought all that is required, follow these steps to fix them in properly:
- Ensure you have all permits needed to install a sprinkler system before you begin.
- Time to install your sprinkler system to the main water supply lines. Using a hoe, shovel or any other digging means start digging out regions where the pipes are going to lay.
- You can use markers to line out areas within the yard where pipes and wires will lay. Stay on course and ensure you don’t dig outside these regions.
- Without soldering, use a compression tee to connect your sprinklers to the water supply system. Better still, to avoid complications, attach your sprinkler system to the main water faucet or garden spigot.
- Install shut off valves: Additionally, you can install shut off valves to your sprinkler system. Shut up valves come in handy when repairs are required.
Unless in rear cases where you might require assistance, the outlined steps above should suffice for most garden sprinkler installation. Keep this guide handy to walk you through major sprinkler installation processes.
Don’t drag that lawn sprinkler around your lawn another minute. Here’s how to Install your own underground sprinkler system.
An in-ground sprinkler system is by far the easiest and most effective way to water your lawn. You can program it to automatically water the grass on a regular schedule, which means you won’t have to drag out the hose and sprinkler every few days. And a properly designed sprinkler system provides total coverage, ensuring there aren’t any grassy areas that are left either parched and dry, or over-watered to the point of drowning. By metering out a precise, consistent amount of water, automatic sprinklers not only make it easier to maintain a lush, green lawn they’ll also save you money by not wasting water.
In-ground sprinkler systems are available from professional contractors, but they’re not cheap, costing on average between $2,500 and $3,500 for a one-quarter acre lot. However, there are DIY sprinkler systems now available that can save you up to 40% over a professional installation. Some you can even control with an app on your smart phone. And the sprinkler components are affordable, readily available, and easier than ever to assemble.
Check the Water Pressure
It’s important to first determine the water pressure at an outdoor faucet, using a simple pressure gauge. Then, use a 5-gal. bucket to measure how much water your home’s plumbing delivers in one minute. Send the water pressure information to the sprinkler manufacturer you have chosen, along with a sketch of your property, including all critical dimensions.
In return, you’ll receive a system layout and a list of all the sprinkler parts you’ll need, including those not sold by the manufacturer, but available at most hardware stores. For this installation, we used Rain Bird, a company that’s been designing and manufacturing irrigation products since the early 1930s. The system layout they provided divided our lawn into zones, each controlled by a zone valve. In this case, to ensure total coverage, there were eight zones and 48 sprinkler heads. The price: $1,500.
In warmer climates, you can use PVC pipe to supply water to the sprinkler heads. Here, we used polyethylene pipe, which is more flexible and able to withstand freeze-thaw cycles. Consult the local building department to see if you need a building permit to install a sprinkler system.
The hardest part of installing a DIY sprinkler system is laying all the underground water-supply piping. That is, if you dig the trenches by hand. Opting for the quicker, easier route, we rented a pipe-pulling machine for $180 a day, which saved an immeasurable amount of time and toil.
We also bought some self-tapping saddles, which provide the quickest way to tap into the polyethylene piping without having to cut or drill the pipe. Just push the saddle down onto the pipe at each sprinkler head location, then twist the handle to puncture the piping, so water can flow to the sprinkler.
Finally, every sprinkler system needs a backflow preventer to keep the sprinkler system from contaminating the home’s potable water supply. A standard, surface-level backflow preventer will work, but it must be placed 12 in. above the highest point of the yard. Here, we installed a reduced-pressure backflow preventer and installed it in the basement where the system will be drained each winter.
If digging the trenches by hand, dig the main water-supply lines first, followed by the shorter branch lines. The trenches should be at least 6 in. deep, but 8 to 10 in. deep will give you more room to work.
If you’ve rented a pipe puller, begin by attaching the end of the polyethylene piping to the machine’s blade. When running a main line, it’s best to wrap the low-voltage electrical cable around the pipe and pull both at the same time. With the piping connected, start the machine moving forward and lower the blade into the ground.
Next, drill through your home’s rim joist, and run copper pipe and electrical cable through the hole and to the ground. Make the conversion from copper to PVC at ground level with a threaded connector. Run the main PVC line, along with the cable, to the first zone-valve location. Assemble the zone valve above ground, and then cement them to the underground pipin.
Install a plastic, inline drain fitting on the downstream side of each valve and connect the cable wires. Our cable had 10 wires and each zone valve had two lead wires. Connect one of each pair of valve lead wires to the white common wire, which will service all of the valves. Join a different color-coded wire to the other lead of each zone valve. Continue making connections in this way until you’ve reached the last valve. With all the valves connected and wired, install the valve boxes and then backfill the trenches.
The feed line needs a drain installed at its lowest point. Thread a brass drain fitting into the threaded end of a PVC tee and install the tee downward at 45 degrees. Dig a small depression under the drain, and fill it with sand and gravel.
Lawn care, a continual but rarely enjoyed responsibility of homeownership, becomes much less of a day-to-day hassle for those who install an underground sprinkler system.
Lawn care can be especially demanding these days, with wacky weather throwing homeowners around the country for a loop. Long periods with no rain can turn your lush carpet of green into a brown wasteland, while a weeklong downpour can leave your grass looking like an untended swamp marsh.
A programmable sprinkler, one that turns on and off automatically at set times, provides a water-efficient way to maintain lawn health. Though not the easiest task, installing an underground sprinkler system yourself means significant savings over the cost of hiring a professional to complete the project.
STEP 1: Get Official
Check with your municipality to see whether any restrictions are in place for residential-use sprinkler systems (one common ordinance stipulates setbacks from neighboring properties). Also, alert your utility companies; they’ll want to mark the locations of all underground lines planned as part of your system.
STEP 2: Make a Plan
Reputable companies—Toro’s Water Smart Design Service and Rain Bird’s Sprinkler Design Service—offer assistance to ease the frustration of designing a sprinkler system layout. For an effective design, expect to provide a map of your property, along with information about your plumbing (e.g., water pressure).
STEP 3: Shop
Component parts necessary to purchase include sprinkler heads, tubing, valve pumps, and a system control box. If your climate is warm year-round, PVC pipe may be used throughout your system. Those who live any place where the ground freezes in winter are advised instead to use flexible polyethylene pipe. Cold-climate dwellers must employ special sprinkler heads, which drain when not in use, ensuring that residual water does not freeze and cause the lines to crack.
STEP 4: Splice
To function, an underground sprinkler system obviously requires water. It’s possible to divert water from your outdoor house bib, but the recommended method is splicing into the water main by means of a T-joint. Hire a plumber for this part of the process if you’re not comfortable tackling it yourself. Installing the T-joint involves turning off the water to your house and situating a backflow preventer valve between the T-joint and sprinkler system input.
STEP 5: Dig
Closely following your planned system layout, dig trenches both for the water lines and the valve box. Rent a trencher from your local home improvement center to make easier and speedier work of this arduous and time-consuming process. Create line trenches that are between six and eight inches deep.
STEP 6: Valve Manifold Box
If the control box is the brain of an underground sprinkler system, the valve assembly is the heart. Generally, this assembly goes in a central spot from which it channels water via the main line to those lines that stretch into different zones of the yard. Set the manifold box into a hole (with a layer of pea gravel at its bottom) that’s been excavated only deep enough to allow the valve to sit at ground level.
STEP 7: Water Lines
After running a line from the water main to the manifold box, begin laying out valve lines to your various sprinkler heads. Where necessary, use T-joints to run pipe from the trajectory of a valve line to the planned location of an individual sprinkler head. Connect every head to a line that reaches the manifold.
STEP 8: Control Box
Place the control box in a sheltered area with an electrical outlet, and run wire underground from the valve manifold to the control box (here, consult the manufacturer’s directions). Accompanying each valve line are two wires: one for the common connection, another for a zone-specific connection.
STEP 9: Finish
Replace the dirt in all trenches and fill in the holes dug for the sprinkler heads and valve manifold box. For the sprinkler heads’ pop-up mechanism to work, they must stick up slightly out of the ground.
Turn the water back on, then run a test cycle of the system. Most systems enable you to adjust the range and force of each sprinkler head. Make the necessary adjustments to ensure that different parts of your lawn are getting even coverage. Program your control box to set a watering schedule suitable for your yard, then sit back enjoy the green, green grass of home!
You don’t have to spend thousands just to water your lawn. Here’s how to build an irrigation system on the cheap.
Owning a suburban home has its perks. Having to water your lawn constantly isn’t one of them. You must dedicate multiple hours every week standing behind a garden hose or running a sprinkler. If you don’t, your grass will suffer and weeds will surely invade. Sure, one way to avoid this chore is to drop thousands on an underground irrigation system, but there is another way.
Here’s my quick-and-dirty DIY method that’s actually quite effective, yet costs less than $100. All you’ll need for this lawn-watering setup are an outdoor faucet, a garden hose, a few off-the-shelf parts, and one remarkable sprinkler gadget.
The problem with lawns
Actually there’s not one but many. The biggest obstacle to good lawn health is a lack of regular watering. I noticed this issue with my own lawn during the long, dog days of summer (late July and August) when the weather here in Louisville, Kentucky, is at its hottest, with high humidity, but not enough rain.
It was within these stretches when small sections of my green lawn began to turn brown. While not a sign of true grass death, it did indicate my lawn was under stress and reacting by going dormant. This paves the way for aggressive invaders such as weeds, insects and other parasites.
Since I’m not lucky enough to own a house with a fancy irrigation system, I combated the problem by watering with a cheap oscillating sprinkler. Unfortunately, the limited range forced me to reposition the sprinkler at least twice, sometimes three times a week, in order to effectively cover my entire yard.
Another pain was that unless I rose at the crack of dawn to water, I’d lose much of my efforts to evaporation under the hot daytime sun. Either that or I’d encourage the growth of unpleasant molds and fungus if I ran the sprinkler too close to nightfall.
MacGyver’d lawn irrigation
At the heart of my improvised setup is the $45 Quick-Snap Sprinkler Kit . This unique device is a water-powered, gear-driven rotating sprinkler designed to throw water approximately 40 feet (depending on water pressure). Its aim and swivel are also adjustable to cover lawns of all different dimensions.
The Quick-Snap sprinkler is water-powered and rotates.
To automate watering and eliminate reporting for early-morning sprinkler duty, I chose the $29 Orbit Single Dial Hose Faucet Timer . The gizmo is essentially a water valve linked to a battery-powered electronic timer. While not a smart appliance in today’s modern parlance (no internet connection or links to networked objects), the timer has enough brains to control my sprinkler on a schedule.
Orbit also makes a truly smart hose-connected timer, the B-Hyve , but it costs a little more. The basic Bluetooth model will set you back $37, while a B-Hyve kit linked to both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi runs $49. Additionally, Orbit sells its own gear-driven hose sprinkler called the H20-6 . It is rated to cover more ground, up to 80 feet. At $19, this gadget cost less than the Quick-Snap. That said, it sits conspicuously above ground, not below it.
This Orbit timer waters on a schedule.
The remaining parts of my system consisted of things I already owned, such as standard 25-foot garden hose (with a 5/8-inch diameter) plus a few extra items I found at my local Home Depot, like hose connectors and shut-off valves ($3 to $5 each).
Connecting all the pieces of my new home-watering system was straightforward. Despite having an exterior water faucet that’s far too low, the result of a repair to a sinking front porch, I had everything up and running in a few hours. I strongly recommend investing in a set of channel-lock pliers and some teflon tape to squash leaks should they appear.
With my hose adapters screwed onto the end of my outdoor faucet, I then tightened the Orbit timer into place. Next in the chain was my garden hose, which I connected to the timer. After that I screwed the Quick-Snap hose connector onto the other end of my garden hose and snapped it into its adapter on the Quick-Snap connector.
You may have to use a few hose adapters.
Next I chose a spot for the sprinkler, within the soil of a flower bed facing my front lawn, and dug a hole (about 7.5 inches deep by 4 inches across). Then I used the bundled metal key (a screwdriver works, too) to adjust the direction of the water stream and how many degrees of rotation I need. A hollow arrow on the top edge of the sprinkler indicates its direction while a solid arrow tells you how much the sprinkler head will turn (between 90 and 360 degrees). For my purposes I selected a watering arc just under 180 degrees, since my lawn is much wider than it is long.
Place the sprinkler in the ground.
Finally I set the Orbit Timer on a watering schedule: 6 a.m. for 1 hour, every four days. Then I turned the faucet wide open for a quick test. Once satisfied with my watering zone, I refilled the hole I made with soil, which hides much of the sprinkler from view.
Set the watering schedule with the timer.
Lawn watering made easier
I have to say I’m impressed with the budget lawn-irrigation system I’ve created. It can’t match the reach and control options a serious high-end solution would offer, since they are professionally installed and tailored to your specific needs. That said, for around one-twentieth the price, I now can water 90 percent of my home’s front yard — not a bad deal. I can also push the timer’s watering schedule back a few days if it rains sufficiently just by tapping a button.
One sprinkler does the job pretty well.
And while my setup doesn’t reach the edges of my yard, I do have the option of installing up to three additional Quick-Snap sprinklers down the road. These can either be daisy-chained together to function as one unit or used independently when needed. Now if only I could get rid of those stubborn weeds just as easily, but that’s another project .
Get the tips you need to grow a beautiful, healthy garden with CNET’s gardening guide .
A sprinkler system valve is a necessary component of the entire sprinkler system. It controls the flow of water and also prevents its backflow. There are many different types of sprinkler system valves that can be installed in a sprinkler system. The most common nowadays are automatic or electrical sprinkler valves. Other types of valves include anti-siphon valves, ball valves, and gate valves. Here is how to install a sprinkler system valve.
Step 1 – Choose a Valve
Choose which type of sprinkler system valve to install. Go to the home improvement store and make sure to purchase one with good quality. Brass types provide longer lasting use, but cost more money than other types of sprinkler valves. There are also valves that make use of PVC. Although they may not provide better durability, they may provide similar quality of water distribution and water flow control.
Step 2 – Flush the Entire Water System
Allow the water to run through the whole water system to make sure that no debris is left on the water lines that may cause damage to the valve. Before installing a sprinkler system valve, shut off the water supply on the entire home or the sprinkler system alone. Usually, the sprinkler system is directly connected to the main water supply so the main water supply should be cut off entirely when working with the installation of the valve.
Step 3 – Plan out the Installation
The valve needs to be installed in a location that is at least 6-inches higher than the highest sprinkler head. The location of the installation should also be very accessible to allow easier repairs when needed. Typically, the valve is installed near the water pump outside the house. Before proceeding with the installation, check out the local codes to determine if a working permit is required.
Step 4 – Install the Necessary Piping
Install the necessary pipes, elbows and fittings where the sprinkler system valve will be installed. Remember that the valve is better installed on a vertical pipe to allow it to be higher than all sprinklers on the lawn or ground. Make sure to connect the necessary hardware tightly.
Step 5 – Apply Teflon Tape on the Valve and Pipe Threads
To ensure that no pressure leaks occur, wrap at least one or two wraps of Teflon tape on the male threads of the adapters on the pipe.
Step 6 – Connect the Valve to the Vertical Pipe
Connect the male threads of the pipes to the valve inlet and outlet to secure the valve into place. Installing a valve is as easy as screwing a screw in place, however, some valves may require additional installation procedures. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual for other installations needed.
Step 7 – Check for Leaks
After securing the valve into place, turn on the water supply and let the sprinkler system run. Check if there are any leaks caused by the water pressure. If none, the installation is successful.