Oh, the efficiency and convenience of an in-ground sprinkler system. For our hot Southern Oregon summers, it's practically a necessity for folks with a garden or lawn of any substantial size (unless you happen to be one of those superior individuals with military-grade discipline who's out watering at 5 am on summer mornings). Lawn sprinkler systems can be installed by commercial lawn care or landscaping companies or you can install them yourself, and in most cases, save yourself a boatload of money.
Prices of sprinkler systems vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of sprinkler system, the size of the area to be sprinkled and whether the sprinkler system is manually turned on or automatic. If you have a "complicated" lawn, with lots of different zones and varied watering needs, it's extremely likely that you'll be able to save money if you're wiling to put in the time of tailoring your system to your exact specifications.
If you are using a company to install your system, clarify ahead of time whether the quote includes the work necessary to repair your lawn once the plumbing for the sprinklers is in place. If you're doing it yourself, keep in mind that once the system is in, the work's not over.
DIY Lawn Sprinkler System
If you're relatively handy, have a decent selection of tools and are in shape enough to do a little digging, you can install your own sprinkler system.
First, you need a plan of the area you want to cover with your sprinkler. The goal is to cover the maximum area effectively with the least amount of digging and piping material. The source of water (and electricity, if you are installing an automated system) will determine your starting point. The design needs to take into consideration the type of area you are going to cover…lawn areas, gardens, flat areas, treed areas and what kind of sprinkler heads you are going to use as these conditions all contribute to the distance and spread of the water. Normal home water pressure will drive most systems. It's worth noting that when preparing a landscaping plan, you should think about sprinkler placement as well.
Most do-it-yourself lawn sprinkler systems come with a set of installation instructions and a guide to figure out the type and amount of materials you will need. The basic materials are PVC pipe, glue, connectors and the sprinkler heads. If you are going fully automatic you will also need a timer package.
The hard work involved in installing a lawn sprinkler system is digging the trenches that you will need to get the sprinkler heads where you need them. Since water is under pressure, the trenches do not need to be perfectly level or the slopes dead on, but they need to be close. The depth of the trenches is important so you can replant your lawn or gardens over the sprinkler system once it is in place. The most important element of the installation is setting the sprinkler heads so they pop up to the height required to efficiently cover the lawn or garden and then go back down into the ground far enough so that your mower does not damage the heads.
Just a little hint, when cutting the PVC pipe make the cuts clean and straight, sand the pipe after cutting and put the glue on the end of the pipe and inside the connectors, they will go together easier and hold better. Trust us on this -- experience is a tough teacher.
Repair the Lawn
After the lawn sprinkler system is installed, working as planned you must carefully fill in the trenches. Fill them higher than the surface of the lawn to allow for settling. If you saved the sod or are using new sod place it over the refilled trenches, it will help settle the fill. Don’t mow until the settling is done.
Still thirsty for more? See the video below. Have questions? Join the community or drop a comment below!