Updated: October 12, 2016

Best Sprinkler Systems

One of the few home improvement projects you can do that actually makes your life easier is installing a sprinkler or irrigation system for your yard. No one likes hand watering gardens, flower beds, or lawns - moving a lawn sprinkler attached to the hose every 20 minutes can push anyone over the edge pretty quick. Installing a sprinkler system automates this entire process and lets you forget about whether your yard is getting the water it needs. Of course, it is easiest to install an automatic sprinkler system when you are first building your home or doing your landscaping, but it is also suprisinlgy easy to add irrigation to your yard after the fact. Below, we will look into what the best sprinkler systems are, how much it costs to install a sprinkler system, and what you should plan for in your landscape design.

How does an automatic sprinkler system work?

Hand watering takes more time, wastes waters, and leaves areas of your yard either over watered or under watered. A good sprinkler system solves all these problems. How does a sprinkler system work? At the most basic level, a sprinkler system contains a few main components. The first is the controller. This is an electronic, computerized unit that normally hangs on the wall of your garage. It is the "brains" behind the sprinkler system, with a timer that tells your system which set of sprinkler heads should turn on when, and for how long. The controller is connected to a set of valves that regulate the flow of water into a specific "zone" in your sprinkler system. The valves act like faucets that turn off and on when told to by the controller. The valves are tied directly into your water system and are normally found in buried plastic boxes with removable lids for access. The valves then feed water into the rest of the sprinkler system, which is composed of plastic PVC pipes that lead to the actual sprinkler heads. The pipes are all buried approx. 12 inches underground. The sprinkler heads are set normally at about ground level when not in use, and then they pop-up when the water pressure fills the pipes below them. Raised heads are also used in garden areas, where they are permanently elevated above the surrounding foliage and thus are able to deliver water without being blocked by other plants. So that, in a nutshell, is the basic details of a sprinkler system. There are some extras, like rain sensors that will keep your system from running on rainy days. RECOMMENDED - You can browsing all the underground sprinkler systems here. You will see the various parts and equipment necessary to put in your underground sprinkler system.

Installing a Sprinkler - Finding a Sprinkler Contractor

Most people that put in a sprinkler system have it done by a professional contractor. They will analyze everything from your soil conditions to which parts of your yard get sun or shade to the slope of your property as they design a sprinkler plan for your yard. They will provide you with a plan diagram and estimates on cost and time - normally, once scheduled, a sprinkler system can be installed in 2-7 days. Ask about warranty, types of products that will be used, and what kind of service is available, from fixing repairs to winterizing the system for the off-season. Make sure your contractor is insured, bonded, and licensed. During the installation process, a trenching machine is used to dig and lay the irrigation pipes into your existing lawn - you are left with a very small seam afterwards that soon disappears. Some manual digging will likely be required in tighter spaces of garden beds near your house. They flag-out all the locations of sprinkler heads with small colored flags to the layout and coverage area is easily visuallized.

How much does a sprinkler system cost?

The cost of an automatic sprinkler system can vary region to region, but it depends mainly on 2 factors - the size of your lawn or yard to be irrigated (ie, how much pipe needs to be laid, how many physical sprinkler heads are needed) and the components you choose to build your system. For a 2500 square foot lawn, you could expect a figure of around $2000-$2500 for an underground spinkler system. However, as you go up in size, costs do not increases at the same rate since you have already paid for the plumbing connection to the water system, the controller, etc. So a 5000 sf lawn might only be $3500. Another ballpark figure to use is $500 per zone (a zone is an area where the sprinklers all operate at one time - due to water pressure and volume issues, normally 5-10 sprinkler heads operate at a time - a zone usually consumes 15-20 gallons of water per minute), so a 5 zone system would run somewhere around $2500.

Sprinkler Repairs - Sprinkler Parts

The biggest names in the Sprinkler business are Hunter, Rainbird, Nelson, and Toro. Rainbird makes a complete line of sprinkler controllers, rotors, valves, and heads. The Rain Bird ESP-LX Plus Controllers are their most advanced models, while the Rain Bird Ec Controllers and the Rain Bird RC-Bi Controllers are the more basic versions. From the Hunter website: "Hunter is the world's leading manufacturer of reliable, efficient gear-driven sprinklers. Irrigation contractors and designers worldwide insist on Hunter sprinklers, spray heads, valves and controllers for their residential and commercial projects. Hunter's leadership, precision engineering and commitment to quality assure years of trouble-free irrigation." You can buy replacement parts for sprinklers at most irrigation supply and hardware or home stores, like Lowes or Home Depot. Also, most landscaping services also perform sprinkler and irrigation work - if you see someone in your neighborhood who has a lawn service, just walk up and ask.