Like the Idea of Having a Sprinkler System? Learn More Here!

Depending upon how often it rains where you live and how green and lush you like your yard you may be considering having a sprinkler system installed. If you are considering it then you’ve come to the right place. We found this article with more information for you. We hope it helps!

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Installing an in-ground sprinkler system is a big job with a big payoff.

If you’re tired of dragging that old lawn sprinkler around every few days, you may want to consider installing your own underground sprinkler system. By doing the job yourself, you can save 30 to 40 percent of the cost of a professional installation, and today’s sprinkler components are easier than ever to assemble. Once your system is in place, you can program it to water your lawn on a regular schedule, and also set the startup time and watering duration.

STEP 1: Use a gauge to determine your water pressure.

To start this process, measure your water pressure at an outdoor faucet with a simple pressure gauge available at home centers (Step 1). Then, use a 5-gal. bucket to measure how much water the system delivers per minute. Send this information to the sprinkler manufacturer you have chosen, along with a scale drawing of your property.

In return, you’ll receive a system layout and a materials list, including items not sold by the manufacturer. Rain Bird, the company I used for the primary sprinkler components, has a variable fee scale for its layouts that ranges from free to $50, depending on how you want the plans delivered and how soon you need them ( A system layout divides your lawn into zones, each controlled by a zone valve. I installed a total of eight zones and 48 sprinkler heads.

While you can install the entire system yourself and dig everything by hand, I installed the piping with a pipe-pulling machine that rented for around $180 a day.

In addition to the valves, heads and control panel from Rain Bird, I used a clever, self-tapping saddle valve called the Blazing Saddle ( This bright yellow valve snaps onto polyethylene pipe without a wrench.

In warm climates, you can run the entire system in PVC pipe. I used polyethylene pipe, a more flexible alternative, because the system has to withstand the freeze-thaw cycles that are common where I live. In any case, you must consult local plumbing codes before beginning work and you may be required to secure a building permit.

Finally, every system needs a backflow preventer to keep the sprinkler system from contaminating the potable water supply. One type is a standard, surface-level backflow preventer (about $150), which must be installed 12 in. above the highest point of the yard. I installed a reduced-pressure backflow preventer (about $350) because it’s allowed below grade. I put it in the basement and will drain the system to this point each winter. The cost of an in-ground sprinkler system can vary widely. My eight-zone system ran about $1500.

Running Pipes

If you plan to dig the entire system by hand, dig the main runs first, then the branch lines. They should be at least 6 in. deep, but 8 to 10 in. will give you better fitting room.

If you’ve rented a pipe puller, begin by attaching the pipe to the machine’s blade (Step 2). When running a main feed line, it’s best to wrap the low-voltage cable around the pipe and pull it at the same time. With the piping connected, start the machine moving forward and lower the blade into the ground.

Bore through your home’s rim joist, and run copper pipe and 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 sets above-ground, then cement them to the underground piping (Step 3). Install a plastic, inline drain fitting on the downstream side of each valve and connect the cable wires. My cable had 10 wires and each zone valve had two lead wires. Connect one of each pair of valve lead wires to a common (white) cable wire that 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 set (Step 4). With all the valves connected and wired, install valve boxes and backfill.

The feed line needs to have a drain fitting 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 (Step 5). Dig a small depression under the drain, and fill it with sand and gravel.

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