On my first home, I paid to have my sprinklers installed. And having seen how they did it, it dawned on me that this was a project I could have done myself. Since then I have installed numerous sprinklers. With this instruction, you will learn the basics of installing your own manual sprinklers. This is a project that can be done over the weekend with some friends, mostly because of the time involved in preparation of the trenches for your lines. The average material cost is approximately $700 to $800. That may increase by $200 more depending on your City Ordinances.
Something to consider prior to installing your sprinklers is designing a long term plan of where your lines will be placed. Draw a diagram of your home and outline of the property line. This may seem unnecessary at the time, however, as time goes on and you want to modify the lines, you will need to know where they are located. Though some cities might not say much about you installing your own sprinklers and do not require that you be licensed, I do recommend you apply for a permit. Once you have your permit, dial 811 or your local utilities to have the underground lines marked.
Some cities will require that you install a Double Check Valve. This is a brass valve designed to keep chemicals out of the Main Water Line. You will need to connect to the Main Line with a Compression Tee, also known as a Pressure Valve. If a Double Check Valve is required, you will need to continue from the Main Line with a brass pipe extending nine feet to your property. You can obtain a self contained torch for about $28 at your local hardware store for that aspect of the installation. The city must inspect your connection prior to continuing.
Your local Equipment Rental Stores provide varying sizes of trenchers for your specific need. Average cost for four hours use of one is approximately $130. The trench must be at least one and a half foot deep. Generally, you will only need this machine for about two to three hours. There will be areas that you will have to dig with a pick due to proximity, such as tree roots or sidewalks.
I highly recommend that you install a Shut-Off Valve before laying down the lines. This is so you can turn off the water to the lines when you need to make repairs, during freezing weather or if you leave for an extended period of time. Most homes will have had ¾" pipe installed from the main line to your home and then reduced to ½" to minimize the pressure to your appliances
From personal experience, it is best to use brass type of valves instead of PVC. Though PVC valves are cheaper, they tend to crack during freezes or simply from exposure to the elements. All valves must include a Back Flow Valve. When installing an automatic system, the valve and back flow valve will be self contained. This is so that debris will not enter the water supply.
In determining the PVC Piping you will be using, it is best to use Schedule 40 grade. Though it is a few cents more, it is a much better grade which will minimize the possibility of it cracking in the future. The type of sprinkler heads will vary depending on your landscape needs. For the grass, low gallon water pressure Popup Heads will do the job. There are several brands on the market which will serve this function. They can easily be adjusted for distance and width of spray. The average water pressure for most homes is 40 PSI which can be measured by connecting a Water Pressure Gauge to the front yard faucet. If your property has at least the minimum pressure, you can install five Popup Heads per valve.
The water needs of flower beds will require the use of Risers to minimize the impact of the spray. You can use as many as fifteen risers per valve based on water pressure. For this type of an area you will need to reduce the pipe to a ½" which will increase the pressure to the risers.
There are resources available to determine the specific material needs for your installation. Check with the major sprinkler manufactures. For a nominal fee of $20, they will provide you with a schematic of your project and instructions on how to install your system. Simply fill out their form such as dimensions of our property and other specifics.
The great thing about DIY Lawn Sprinkler System is that, not only will you learn how the system works, but you can install faucets in any part of the yard that you may not have had access to in the past. This will be a great learning experience and one that you will not forget.