As I stated earlier, I will not be able to provide before and after photos on some of my projects. On my first home I paid to have my sprinklers installed and having seen how they did it, it dawned on me that this was a project I could have done myself. Since then, I have installed numerous sprinklers including automatic ones. With this Diy lawn sprinkler system you will be able to learn the basics and able to modify your design to meet your future needs.
This is a project that can be done over the weekend with some friends, mostly because of the time involved in preparation of the trenches for your lines. You can rent a trencher at your local rental store for about $115 for a four hour period, that should be more than enough time. The depth of the trench should be (at least on foot ). Some areas will have to be done with a pick because of the proximity of side walks, tree roots and other structures. The first thing is to apply for a permit with the city. Dial 811 or local utilities to have your underground lines marked. From my experience the material cost for an average lawn is approximatley $700 to $800. Depending on your locality, that cost can increase by $200 more because some areas do require that you install a double check back flow valve. This is so that no chemicals will get into the main water supply. The city will require a brass pipe extend from the main water line by at least 9 feet, connect the backflow valve and be inspected by the city before you continue. If the city requires you to install one of these valves, you can purchase an all contained torch for about $28 at your local Home Depot; by the way that is where I get most of my materials. There is a photo to the right. That is one of several brands that is easy to use.
Most water lines coming in to your house are 3/4" to 1" industrial grade. I have even seen some lines with only 1/2" which is fine for home use, however, it reduces the water pressure for the sprinklers. That would mean that you would need to use more valves and less sprinkler heads per valve. You do benefit from better water pressure if you have a Fire Hydrant located on your corner or a Water Tower within a mile of your residence. Also, you can check the pressure by using a Water Pressure Gauge. The gauge costs about $10 and is placed on the closest outdoor water faucet. The average pressure for residences is 40 to 50 pounds.
Before you start digging make a plan of what type of an area you want to water, whether lawn or flowerbeds. One thing I can tell you from personal experience is that as time goes on, you will not remember exactly where you buried your sprinkler lines. This will come in handy when you need to extend those lines for any reason or if you will be planting trees whose roots will affect them. Once you have that plan, get a measurement of the area to determine your materials list such as how much Pvc Piping you will need. They come in 10' lengths. A good resorce in developing your plan is a free brochure provided by Toro located at your local Home Depot plumbing area. They charge a nominal fee of about $20 to prepare a materials list and instructions on installation.
Now that you are ready to dig, open your Main Water Line Cover to see which direction your line is going. The line coming in from the main is Industrial Grade meaning it is oversize in measurement. For that reason you will need to get a Compression Tee, also called a Quest. I recommend a threaded connection from that Tee instead of permanent Pvc Glue. You will find that if you ever have to work on those connections in the future, it is much easier to unthread a specific area without removing several components and re-gluing again.
One thing that is very important in installing your sprinklers is that you should install a Shut Off
Valve, preferably close to your entryway for easy access. I do recommend that you use brass valves, and this type of control illustrated is for easier use. Though Pvc Valves are cheaper, you will have to replace them more often, due to exposure to the elements such as cracking from the sun or the water freezing inside the valve. Even though you will have turned off the shut off valve in the winter, whatever water remains has a good likelyhood of cracking the Pvc Valves. With the brass type, though it may expand, you can reseal the connection with Teflon tape. Hard plastic covers are sold to conseal your valves. The Shut Off Valve needs to be protected by this cover so it is not stepped on or run over by equipment. The other valves used for watering can be placed above ground for easy access and usage.
As you have extended your lines it is time to install your control valves. As illustrated on the right, this is a basic connection view. The water comes in from the right in this example. Once you open the valve, the water will continue through a Back Flow Valve. If the city does not require a Double Check Valve as indicated at the top, then all you really need is this Back Flow Valve with each valve you install. It serves the purpose of keeping debris from entering your water supply. Also, as illustrated, I recommend using 40 Schulde grade Pvc Pipe. There is a 200 Schedule Grade, however, it is too thin and you will have problems with it.
Next, you need to decide what type of sprinkler heads you will be using and for what purpose. You can use the concealed type that comes up only when in use or stationary ones if you have tall shrubs. Based on standard water pressure, you are able to use up to 15 Risers per Control Valve or up to 5 Low Gallong Pop Ups. This low gallon head can water up to 36 feet whereby you can easily control spray and distance. When installing lawn sprinkler heads, position them in a manner that they will overlap each other's spray radius.
The great thing about installing your own sprinkler system is that you can also install faucets anywhere you need them such as a Green House, Work Shop or any area not easily accessible. I have also provided a general Materials List to give you an idea of what you will need. For specific requirements to your project, the brochure provided at your local Home Depot will be of great benefit. You can leave any questions you might have on the Message Board, and I will be glad to assist. You are welcomed to post your photos so I can see how you are doing with your project.
- Compression Tee Valve
- Double Check Valve
(If Required by City)
- 40 Scheduled Pvc Pipe
- Shut Off Valve
- Male Adapter
- Pop Up Sprinkler Connectors
- 12" Standard Vave Box
- 6" Round Valve Box
- Reducing Male Adapter
- Flexible Risers
- Teflon Tape
- 4" Pop Up Sprinkler Heads