The good thing about a lawn sprinkler system is that it automatically shuts on and off to deliver a precise amount of water to your yard. If you’re a new homeowner and are planning to install this type of irrigation system on your property, we’ll help you understand how to set up sprinklers to maintain a beautiful lawn. 

A proper watering schedule is without a doubt key to owning a lush lawn. And this can be achieved with an efficient sprinkler system. You may choose to hire a contractor for the sprinkler system installation or construct a DIY system by learning how to set up sprinklers. 

This will not only help you save money on labor costs but will also provide you with a sense of achievement. Building your own sprinkler system will cost you less than $1,500. Of course, the total cost will depend on the size and complexity of the system.

So, if you’re ready to take the DIY route, this guide will explain everything you need to know about installing sprinklers in your yard. 

Understand your water supply 

garden plumbing

Before you begin the home improvement project, you need a plan – a plan that’s specific to your yard, property boundary, and region of the country.

The first step is to check the water pressure in your area. The minimum water pressure for your sprinkler system should be between 30 and 35 psi (pounds per square inch) and the water flow should be 10 to 13 GPM (gallons per minute). 

Map a layout plan

The next step is to map your property boundaries and landscape. This will help you determine which type of sprinkler system will be most effective for your yard.

Keep in mind that the number of sprinkler heads in each zone will depend on the water pressure and total volume per minute. Generally speaking, one zone can have between 5 and 6 rotor heads or between 8 and 10 spray heads.

Mark the sprinkler head and zone valve locations with plastic flags or wooden stakes. Once you have a fair idea of where to place the sprinklers, you’ll need to get in touch with the local building department and obtain the necessary permits. Also, you’ll need help marking any buried utilities such as electrical cables, gas lines, water supply lines, or sewer lines. Before you begin the digging project in your yard, it’s a good idea to call 811 and get the officials to locate any utility lines on your property. 

Get the supplies

Once you have your irrigation map and the requisite permissions, gather the components of your sprinkler system. These include polyvinyl (PVC) pipe or polyethylene pipe, a pipe cutter, control valves, risers, sprinkler heads, and the automatic timer. You should be able to buy the necessary supplies at your local hardware store or a home-improvement store.

Dig trenches

Follow the path of the flags and dig trenches that are 6 to 12 inches deep and 4 inches wide. Make sure the trench is deep enough to allow the sprinklers to retract underground. This is crucial in preventing any breakage from lawn machines.

You can either dig by hand using a garden spade with a square edge or rent a gas-powered trenching machine. When working around shrubs and flower beds, it’s a good idea to dig by hand to prevent damage to the plants. Make sure the trenches are level or the sprinkler system will not be as efficient.

Make the water and PVC pipe connection

sprikler maintenance

Locate the pipe for the water source and turn off the water to the house at the meter. Now connect the pipes using a tee fitting wherever it’s branching out for a sprinkler.

Install the zone valves

Install the zone valves by digging a trench from the main water line to the valve box. Dig a hole measuring 18 inches in depth and 2 to 3 feet in length. Line this hole with some gravel (about 2 inches) and set the valve box into it – ensuring that the lid is flush with the grass. Now, glue the manifold together in the valve box and attach the zone valves.

Next, connect a PVC pipe (about 1 inch) from the main water line to a backflow preventer and connect it to the manifold. You’ll have to dig a shallow trench all the way from the valve box to the location of the timer and place the underground wire there. Connect it to the wires from the valves. 

Place the PVC pipes into the trenches

Lay the pipe in the trenches leading from the valve box. If required, you may join the pipe sections with couplings and PVC cement. Join tee fittings and flexible piping to connect to sprinkler heads. You may install a riser to each tee connection to connect your water line to the sprinkler heads. 

Connect pipes at the valve box

Join the water pipes to the zone valve pipes coming out from the valve box with 90-degree elbows. Turn on the water supply to flush out dirt or debris from the system. Now, again shut off the water supply to install the sprinklers.

Install sprinklers

Attach the flexible piping to pop-up sprinklers – pushing the fitting all the way into the pipe. Now, install the spray nozzle after removing the cap from the sprinkler.

Connect the sprinkler heads to an automatic timer

Make sure the sprinkler head and risers are facing the right direction and are at ground level. Pack some soil around the heads to keep the arrangement in place. 

Wall-mount the automatic timer near a power source and wire it to the control valve. If you’re unable to correctly connect the wires, you may hire a licensed electrician

Test the sprinkler system

lawn sprinkler system

Set your timer to the watering schedule suitable for your yard size. Complete a test run to verify that all the zones and sprinklers are getting the right amount of water, at the right time. Adjust the sprinklers that are not spraying water properly. Now cover the pipe with soil. You’re ready to enjoy your hard work! And yes, do remember to maintain your sprinkler system and winterize it during harsh weather conditions. 

Last thoughts

A sprinkler water system allows you to water your lawn and yard in an organized manner. It helps you follow a timely watering schedule and maintain a beautiful lawn and garden without hassles. 

No more dragging out the garden hose and sprinkler every few days. You get total coverage, precise watering, and automatic schedules. And, no water wastage!

Learn how to set up sprinklers step by step was last modified: January 25th, 2023 by Ramona Sinha
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