Do It Yourself: Lawn Sprinkler System Design Must-Knows

A few tips and pointers you must first know before you design and install a lawn sprinkler system yourself, including tools, materials and instructions.

The very first things you need to know are the city codes. You must check both the building and water codes. Some cities have restrictions on underground systems and you want to be sure you do not dig where under ground pipes and lines are already placed. You will also be able to find out if there are any restrictions as to the type of pipe you can use for your sprinkler. Many states have a system in place that will come out and free of charge locate all underground utilities and mark them for you.

Next, you will need a drawing of your property. This should include your house, garage, sheds, landscaping, patios, trees etc. You will want to make this drawing to scale. You can check with the city to see if they have a scale drawing of your property then all you need to do is put in the house, outbuildings and landscaping. Sometimes if you know who built the house you can find drawings with them.

Once you have checked with the officials and have your drawing, it would be wise to find out your flow rate so you know what type of system your water pressure will handle. There are a couple ways you can do this: 1) call the city water department and ask them. 2) Put a gallon bucket under an outside faucet and with all other water faucets turned off turn your faucet fully on and time how long it takes to fill the bucket. Once it is full, divide 60 by the number of seconds it took to fill the bucket. This is your flow rate or gallons per minute. Therefore, if it took 6 seconds to fill, your flow rate would be 10 gpm.

Now that you have this information, you can begin laying out the design of the system. Make sure you plan for ample overlap so there will be no dry spots in the yard. Calculate the number of fittings and elbows needed and footage of PVC pipe also.

The best type of pipe to use is what is called PVC pipe. This type of piping is light, easy to use and doesn't rust or corrode over time. The diameter of your pipe will be determined by the flow rate:

* ¾ inch pipe for 14 gpm

* 1 inch pipe for 25 gpm

* 1 ¼ inch pipe for 40 gpm

You must also make sure you have all the proper tools and materials necessary.

* Pipe wrenches

* T-fittings, close nipples, hose connector, male and female PVC adapters, gate valve, anti-siphoning valve, sprinkler heads, unions, elbows, and sufficient amount of pvc pipe.

* Teflon plumbers tape

* Utility knife, hacksaw or tube cutter

* Solvent glue, felt markers, emery cloth, electrical tape, wooden stakes and wire supports

* Shovels

* Gravel or sand

Once you have all this you are ready to begin digging the trenches and laying out your sprinkler system. One last tip is for those living in climates where the temperatures get below freezing make sure you turn water off to the outside sprinkler and turn the system on with water off to drain all water from the system.

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