Install Your Own Sprinkler System

Plan and install a sprinkler system. 12 gallons per minute per zone. Overlap spray to get best coverage. Use automatic valves to save work.

Are you tired of dragging the hose around the yard? It may be time to install an automatic sprinkler system.

In order to begin the installation process it is necessary to make a plan of the area that needs water. This is possibly the most important step to a successful system, after all if it doesn't cover the intended area or there isn't sufficient pressure or volume for the number of sprinkler heads then it isn't going to perform the job. First, make a map of the area to be watered. This should be a "to scale" model. Next decide what type of sprinkler heads would work best. There are several different styles, from oscillating to pop up spray heads, as well as combinations of both. These different heads also use different amounts of water. Once it has been decided which heads or combinations of heads to use, it is time to determine where to place them. To get the proper coverage the heads should be placed so that the spray from one head reaches the next head in any direction. So, a half circle head should spray to the heads to the right, left, and the next head out in the lawn. This creates an overlap of spray and if done correctly prevents dry spots. The distance a head sprays and the pressure requirements needed are generally printed on a paper attached to the head. Using this information return to the map and set a compass to the distance of the spray for the heads to be used according to the scale of the map. Then draw a symbol to represent the heads in the desired locations and use the compass to draw a line for the spray. When all the heads are place with the overlap and the area is covered, then the number of heads can be counted.

Now it is time to decide how to run the lines. The pipe can be PVC or a poly pipe, but PVC is usually used because of the price and ease of working with it. Before the placing of the lines can be added to the plan it is necessary to determine how many zone will be needed to cover the area without reducing the water pressure too much. The general rule of thumb is that no more than twelve gallon per minute of water should be used per zone. This rule applies to 3/4 inch and 1 inch pipes at 40 psi. If the lines are smaller or the pressure is less, then number of heads in a zone also needs to be reduced. Also, remember that if in doubt use fewer heads in order to assure coverage of the area. The gallons per minute usage of the respective heads is also printed on the label. It is not necessary that only one kind of head be used, for instance, if there is a small section on the side of the house that is using small heads to cover it and a large area in back or front, larger type heads can be used as long as the 12 gpm is not exceeded. After the number and locations of zones has been established draw in the water lines from the water source.

At this point the work begins. Use the plans that have now been completed and figure how much of each material is needed. This will include many fittings for the pipe, such as tees, elbows, and threaded tees and elbows for the sprinklers stand pipes. The sprinkler system can be manual or automatic. Manual is less costly, but requires more work in regulating watering. In most cases automatic is preferred. The trenches for the lines can be dug by hand, using a trencher, or with a backhoe. If using PVC pipe it is best to let the pipe sit for 24 hours after it has all been glued together before the water is turned on. When it is ready turn it on before putting the heads in place, this is to clean the lines of rocks and dirt that may have entered during installation. After it is cleaned, add the heads and set the controls (for automatic systems) and test it. If the coverage is satisfactory and there are no leaks then the system is complete.

© High Speed Ventures 2011