Installing a Lawn Sprinkler System

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Installing a Lawn Sprinkler System

Grass often needs more water than it receives from rain naturally. To fill this requirement you need some form of irrigation setup for your lawn. While it does work, standing with a garden hose for hours is not your ideal system. A lawn sprinkler system is ideal because it directs water exactly where and when it is needed. The best part about an automatic sprinkler system is once it is setup up, it gives you free time to do other more important things. Not to mention the fact that getting up early in the morning to water can be a real pain in the neck.

Before You Get Started

The planning stage is most important in the process of installation. It can be quite difficult to maintain a poorly installed sprinkler system, so it is essential that you take the time to do it right from the start. Here is a checklist to do before you get started:

  • Check to see if a building permit is required.
  • Find out what local code requires pertaining to irrigation projects.
  • Check underground where you will be digging for utilities.

The next step is to determine what parts you need for the job. There are several things you need to determine before going to the store. Here is a list of things you need to know:

  • Back-flow prevention requirements
  • Water flow rate (gallons per minute)
  • Water pressure (psi)
  • Water meter or pump size
  • Water service line size

Drawing Out Your System

There are many items you need to take into account when drawing out your irrigation system. Some of these items include:

  • Sidewalks & Driveways
  • Trees
  • Flower Beds
  • Fences
  • Slopes

Because certain areas need different amounts of water, you need to plan out independent watering zones. For instance, your flower beds should have their own zone. Make sure you mark everything in detail on the drawing and expect to make at least several revisions. It is much easier to correct mistakes at this stage before any digging.

Coverage is an essential step in planning. You need to make sure that there is 100% coverage of your lawn which will require some overlapping. There are many types of sprinkler heads for different requirements. There are heads for large areas, corners, and flower beds.

Purchase System Parts

Now that you have finished all your planning, it is time to take what you have planned and purchase all the items you need at your local store. You will need to match the system parts with your water pressure and supply measurements you took in the planning stage. This will ensure proper operation of your sprinkler system.

You will need the following sprinkler system components:

  • Pipe (PVC or Polyethylene)
  • Valve manifold
  • Timers
  • Valves
  • Sprinkler heads
  • Risers
  • Fittings
  • Back-flow preventer
  • Automatic or manual control

Dig In

Now it is time to start digging your trenches according to the layout you planned. You will need to dig anywhere from 6 to 12″ deep according to your climate. If it is colder in your climate, you should dig deeper.

Installing the System

After you have dug all the trenches it is time for assembly. First, connect your PVC or polyethylene pipes with the fittings. Next, you want to connect the sprinkler heads to pipes or risers. Finally, you need to connect the system up with the water supply, install a back-flow preventer, and connect the control system.

Lawn Sprinkler Troubleshooting

If you think that your new system is irrigating the wrong amount of water, you can check each zone by putting a container out and letting the system run through a normal cycle. Then measure out how much water the system put out. Ideally, you want to water around 1 to 2″ per week.

Colder climates require some maintenance like blowing out all the water in the system with compressed air. This prevents damage from freezing during the winter. Sometimes a professional like Scotts lawn care is best suited for this job.

Keep an eye out for spots that may not be receiving their allotted amount of water. This is a sure sign of a blocked pipe or sprinkler head. The key to preventing problems with automatic sprinkler systems is observation.


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