What are the Best Tips for Installing a DIY Sprinkler System?

Bobby R. Goldsmith

Though it may seem complicated, installing a do-it-yourself sprinkler system is a relatively easy project to perform as long as a few simple tips are followed during the installation process. From the design of the system, to choosing the right materials and performing the labor, installing a DIY sprinkler system is a job that usually can be completed in a single weekend. In fact, the most helpful tip for such an installation is a thorough preparation process beforehand that factors in every aspect of the project. From the outset, an installer will need to consider lawn dimensions, whether an automatic or a manual control system is desired, and what combination of sprinkler head types will be most effective for an underground sprinkler system.

Stainless steel pipes can be used in a sprinkler system.
Stainless steel pipes can be used in a sprinkler system.

The most important tip for a successful installation process of a DIY sprinkler system is designing and laying the system out. An installer will need to choose between automatic and manual control systems at the outset of the installation process. For sprinkler systems that will operate on a timer, an installer also will need to put an automatically-controlled sprinkler system in place. If there is no need or desire to have the sprinkler system operating on a timer, then a manual control system is the way to go — it has an easier design layout and is easier to install. This is due to the fact that a manual control system has no electrical components, so the installer has a lot more leeway regarding placement of the control valves and back-flow preventer.

A lawn sprinkler.
A lawn sprinkler.

One thing that some DIY installers fail to do when planning is to account for the dimensions of the lawn. A good tip is to survey the lawn by carefully measuring its length, width and perimeter, taking into consideration the layout of the lawn as well. Any indents or angular contours of the lawn must be taken into consideration as well. When designing a DIY sprinkler system, an installer must also consider proper coverage — not only to ensure that every part of the lawn gets adequate irrigation, but also that the parts of the yard that are not grass do not get excessively watered by the lawn sprinkler system. Such waste is grossly inefficient and counterproductive to proper lawn irrigation.

Another great tip for an installer of a DIY sprinkler system is to consider ahead of time what types of sprinkler heads to use. There are two basic types of lawn sprinkler heads. A rotary sprinkler utilizes water pressure to propel its motion, as the sprinkler turns on a radial axis, watering a swath of lawn with each pass. Static spray sprinklers do not move at all, as they water the lawn in a fixed radius from the base of the sprinkler. Most do-it-yourself sprinkler systems will incorporate a mix of both types of sprinkler heads to ensure proper and efficient lawn irrigation.

An important tip for a DIY sprinkler system installer to follow is to design the system so as many of the needed sprinkler heads as possible can be placed on as few pipes as necessary. This will make the installation process much easier, as the installer will not have to run auxiliary pipes to one part of the lawn for a single sprinkler head. Also, DIY sprinkler system installers should only utilize PVC piping, as copper, brass and steel pipes are especially prone to corrosion and have the potential to leach toxins into the water table.

PVC pipes are the best to use for sprinkler systems.
PVC pipes are the best to use for sprinkler systems.

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