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Take a Permanent Vacation from Manual Watering

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re tired of moving a garden hose all over your yard every other day. Not only is it a big time waster, you also have to remember to move the sprinkler or turn it off.

It’s time to add a home irrigation system with underground sprinklers and say goodbye to your manual sprinkler and hose dragging rituals.

Whether you have all lawn or mixed lawn with flowers, shrubs, and trees your landscape investment will be enhanced greatly by adding an automatic underground sprinkler system. And, it will add significant value to your home’s worth.


If you’re the handy type and you have time on your hands, you could do the job yourself and save 30 to 40 percent of the cost of a professional installation.

Professionally installed systems can run anywhere from $1,500 to thousands depending on how big your lot is. If you have 2,500 square feet of lawn it will probably cost somewhere between $1,500 to $2,500, with labor eating up around 35%, plumbing connection, piping, and heads another 50%, and an electronic controller 15%.

To determine how large your lot is, dig up your old appraisal papers and look for the lot survey. This survey has all the dimensions you need. If you can’t locate the survey you can measure its dimensions manually. Use the numbers above to help calculate a rough estimate for cost.

Most common sprinkler heads

Spray heads can either pop up out of the ground when activated or rest on pipes that are permanently above ground. The heads discharge a lot of water in a short time so this type of head isn’t recommended for slopes due to wasteful run-off.

Rotor heads have a lower application rate, which makes them ideal for slopes. These heads are also better suited for watering larger areas because they water more uniformly. If you have a large yard filled with mostly lawn, rotor heads make the most sense.


Controllers range from $90 to $400. Choose one that can be set for different zones and for different schedules per week. It’s also a smart idea to choose one with a rain sensor so it shuts off automatically when it rains and thus conserves water.

Get to know your water

If you’re planning on doing the job yourself you’ll need to measure your water pressure, which can be achieved by using a pressure gauge or by calling your local municipality. Using a gauge requires shutting off all inside and outside water, attaching the gauge to an outside faucet, turning the water on, and recording the pressure reading.

You’ll also need to determine your water meter size from either the meter, your water provider, or your utility bill. And, you’ll need to measure the service line size; wrap a piece of string around the water service pipe once then measure the length. Last, but not least, you’ll need to determine the flow rate. You can do this by timing how long it takes to fill a container to a measurable level and then divide the volume by the measured time to convert to gallons per minute or gallons per hour.

Your water pressure and flow rate will determine your sprinkler heads performance.

Installation and design

Besides careful analysis of your water pressure, design also includes checking with Department of Works for any underground cables or pipes, choosing the right components, making sure beds and lawn zones are separate, and ensuring zone to zone coverage isn’t wasting water or not using enough. Installers can do the job quickly, typically 3 days for 2500 square feet of lawn.

Your long-awaited vacation

Once your system is in place you can program it to water on a regular schedule, set the watering duration, and set the start time. During a drought your city may require you to water every other day; just program your new system to run on specified days and enjoy your new automated watering system.

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