DIY Guide to Installing a Lawn Sprinkler

Beautiful and green lawns are something all homeowners strive for. Making sure the grass in the yard gets all the nutrients it needs to be healthy which includes water is essential to having a healthy-looking lawn. A great way to ensure adequate water supply to the grass is by installing a lawn sprinkler system. Below is a great DIY guide to installing your own lawn sprinkler system. In addition to this helpful guide, are the needed tools and materials for a successful installation. 

Tools 

  • timer
  • vibratory plow
  • poly pipe cutter
  • shovel

Materials 

  • PVC valves
  • PVC pipe
  • PVC connectors 
  • Sprinkler head 

1. Plan 

Before diving into the installation of the sprinkler system, it is important to plan and prepare. There are plenty of benefits to an irrigation watering system but there are a number of factors to consider such as the grass and soil type of the yard. 

There are a number of different types of grasses, some of which include:

  • St. Augustine Grass - Warm season grass that is mostly found in warm regions like Florida and the Gulf Coast region. This grass needs plenty of moisture to stay healthy. Having a sprinkler system that can cover the whole lawn is crucial. 
  • Kentucky Bluegrass - A grass that is super thirsty and needs 24-26’ of supplemental irrigation each year compared to the average 10’ with other grasses. 
  • Fine Grass - Another grass that needs above-average watering 

DIY Sprinkler GuideDetermining the type of soil is also important to determine the absorption level. Sandy soil can absorb the water more quickly than clay soil. Watering more than the soil can hold will induce runoff. 

Before any type of installation, it is imperative to check with the local city for the requirements such as a building permit and whether or not they only allow for professionals to install the system. Some municipalities, if not all, may have rules in regards to watering days and times, so knowing this beforehand can save any future fines. Always check for utilities before digging of any sort. 

Finding the water pressure of the home in pounds per square inch of the home is important to purchase the right components. More findings should include water service line size, the water flow rate in gallons per minute, type of backflow prevention, water meter size or water well size. 

There are two ways to measure the water pressure which are static and working. Measuring working water pressure means the water is on. Static measuring is just the opposite, measuring when the water supply is shut off. To determine the working water pressure number, a pressure gauge is needed. 

More factors that need to be looked at when planning is determining the water meter size, flow rate and service line size. A municipal watering system will have the size of the meter printed on each meter. More ways to find this number is checking a utility bill or calling a service provider. Homeowners that are on a well system, will need to find the pump size. 

An irrigation system will be hooked up to the homeowners existing water service, so knowing the size of a service line is crucial. As for the flow rate, it can be quite simple, all that is needed is water from the spigot, a container and a timer. Filling a container with water from the spigot and time how long it takes to fill and divide the container that is full in gallons by the seconds it took to fill and multiply by 60. 

For example, a 3-gallon bucket that takes 15 seconds to fill-3 divided by 15 = 0.2 so take 0.2 and multiply that by 60 to get the flow rate. 

More planning should include determining your coverage needs which will more than likely be 100 percent coverage to avoid dry spots. Knowing the coverage needs will determine which sprinkler head to use. 

2. Dig the Sprinkler System

Installing Sprinkler

The first step to digging is to identify the location of the dig. This can easily be done with some rope and stakes as well as placing a colored flag where the sprinkler head will be placed. When installing a system yourself, dig 6-12 inches to allow the sprinklers to retract underground to prevent any damage from small engine machines such as a lawnmower. Renting a trencher is a great tool for digging however if someone chooses to dig by hand, a garden spade with a straight edge is best. Another important point to remember is to have a trenches level.

3. Assemble 

It is ideal to lay out the pieces and assemble them before putting them into the trench. First, start out by cutting the PVC pipes with either a hack saw or pipe cutter. Using a knife or fine file to smooth out the edges and then it is time to position the pipe. To do so, install the pipe into the fitting followed by adjusting so the pipe is in the correct position. To save time and energy, mark the pipe and fitting line with a marker for reference, this way it is easier to find the position after cementing. Once the pip is cut and positioned, you want to prime the pipe by removing it from the fitting. Clean the surfaces so you can use a solvent primer to matte the finishes. Once this step is complete, brush all surfaces, inside and out with cement.

Once the preparation of the pipe is finished, it is time to install and align the PVC piping. To do so, push the pipe into the fitting and use your reference lines as a guide, then twist the pipe in order to align it with the marks. By doing this, you are allowing the cement to be spread. It is important to be able to work quickly with this step as the adhesive sets quickly; 30 seconds quickly!

4. Connection of the Sprinkler Heads

There are a number of ways to connect the sprinkler heads to the pipes. The most accurate information pertaining to the connection of the new sprinkler heads will be found on the manufacturer’s box/packaging. However, anyone attempting the DIY route should be sure to clear any debris from the line before connection to avoid blockages. 

5. Service Line

Irrigation System

The 4th step is to connect the sprinkler system to the water supply and you can do so by following one of these two ways.

Like garden hoses, the line can be connected to the outside water faucet which can be found outside of the house either in the backyard or side and in some cases, the front. 

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The second way to connect is by doing so directly through the service line. If someone decides to go this route, shut off the main water supply, and then cut out 1 inch from the line and add a compression tee fitting. In addition to this, add an additional valve so the system's water supply can be controlled independently. 

6. Backflow Prevention and Control

If the water is ever siphoned back into the supply, chemicals from the lawn could enter and cause serious damage. Reverse pressure from the system can also encourage backflow. It is no wonder this is a very important step. To prevent backflow, a system will need to be installed, and just like the sprinkler heads, it is important to check the manufacturer's instructions to ensure property and correct installation. 

Once everything is complete it is time to set up the control system. Set up and program timers, zones and more. Having one zone timed for 30 minutes, and another zone set up for an hour is also possible. Knowing how much water is needed for each zone is important so the control system can accurately be set up. It is also a good idea to set the control system to have a timer for shut off. 

By installing a sprinkler system correctly, and making good use of it, your lawn will be gorgeous all year round!