Sprinkler systems are a wonderful thing, especially if you have a large lawn and are trying to keep it looking good. If you are interested in an automatic sprinkler system you are probably tired of dragging hoses around the yard after seeding, fertilizing, or liming.
Have you ever set up your sprinkler, turned on the water, then went inside to watch a little T.V. meaning to turn it off in 15 minutes, only to realize 2 hours later that you forgot it, meanwhile the neighbor’s dog is floating down the gutter from all of your excess water running off. This scenario is played over and over every year by thousands of people watering by hand.
An automatic sprinkler system will eliminate these problems by automatically shutting off the system, this will use less water overall than watering by hand. Automatic systems will use less water each year because they will water when it is needed, and only for the amount of time specified, this will eliminate wasting water.
Besides being more frugal with water, automatic systems are just plain great for watering the lawn early in the morning while you are getting ready for work, (no more muddy shoes before work). If you ever have an automatic system, you’ll never go back to watering by hand in any other house you live in.
Automatic systems work by simple low voltage electric valves opening up on demand from the timer, or clock. The timer, when set to water on a particular day, will turn on a zone ( a section of the lawn, or shrub beds). The timer will open the valve allowing water to flow through to the desired set of sprinkler heads in a certain part of the lawn for the set amount of time. The lawn can be watered at any daily schedule, each day, every other, or just certain days of the week. Also, each day that is set for watering can be watered several times a day, allowing for great seed germination after reseeding.
An automatic rain sensor can be set up to shut the system down when the rain comes, this also saves water. The overall look and health of your lawn will be better by far with automatic watering. If you plan to consistently have a class-looking lawn, you are going to have to water, and depending on where you live you could have to water if you are going to have a lawn at all. So it comes down to either you spend a buck or two and have an automatic system, or drag those hoses until you can’t any longer.
Benefits of a System
The benefits of an automatic watering system are several. First, you will use less water. That’s right, with an automatic watering system you will use less water than you would if watering by hand. This is because the system will turn on the water when it is needed, and off when it is supposed to. When watering by hand we too often leave the water running much too long and let the water run off and waste it. Second – With the in-ground system water is put where it needs to be, on the grass, not the walk or driveway or street, this eliminates waste by eliminating water running down the street.
Third – The in-ground system (when designed and installed right) will water more efficiently than by hand. When the sprinkler heads are placed where they are supposed to be, there are no dry and wet spots. All areas of the lawn should be watered at the same rate. This is called matched precipitation rates. So if you water for an hour and the center of the lawn receives 1 inch of water, the edges should receive 1 inch of water. Fourth – Fertilizers, insecticides, weed control products and even overseeding work better with an in-ground system. Since it is so easy to just go to your timer and push a button, you will find that your fertilizers, insecticides, and other lawn maintenance products will work better when watered as the directions tell us to. Fifth – Shrubs will last longer, and are protected against a dry spell.
You spend thousands on Landscaping but don’t provide water. That doesn’t make sense. An automatic system will keep watch over your shrubs and be sure they don’t die of thirst. In some areas of the country if the flowers, shrubs, and lawn aren’t watered in a week’s time they will be toast. This means you couldn’t even take a vacation unless you make arrangements for someone to water for you. The system will handle this for you.
How Do I Get A System?
Two ways to get a system that I know of –
- have a professional put it in for you. This will run a range from $500.00 per Zone to $800.00 per Zone depending on how large your system is, where you live, how much competition there is in your area, and what time of year you choose to put it in.
- Put it in yourself. This may sound like it’s not possible (and for some it’s not) but a lot of people are capable of doing it.
If you know a little about plumbing, (the easy PVC type) and just a little about wiring, and don’t mind doing some digging and running a trencher to dig the trenches, you can probably do it. Even if you don’t know much about the wiring part, you can hire someone to wire up the controller.
A Zone is each area of the lawn that is watered at one time. Most lawns cannot be watered all at once, they must be broken up into areas, or zones. Each zone’s size is determined by the dimensions of the area, and the water pressure and gallons per minute available from your water source. A large wide open lawn with no small irregular-shaped areas can be watered with fewer zones. A lawn with a cut-up pattern, several small areas, several beds in different areas, and cut-up by sidewalks or driveways will require several zones.
This is not that hard to determine but requires more explanation than we have space here to do. If you are this far in this article and you are thinking you might like to try putting in a system Order An Irrigation Installation Manual Here for information on installing a system. We can also provide help in designing, setting up zones, and laying out the entire system, leaving you the hard part to do, digging. Even though you can use a trencher to do most of the digging, you will still have to do a substantial amount of hand digging in cleaning out the trenches, digging large holes for the valve boxes to go in, or even getting started on boring under walks or drives. The components of a system include the following:
Timer – This is the controller of the system, and regulates how long each zone stays on and when it comes on.
Valves – These are the gates or doors that open and let the water go to each zone.
Heads – The heads actually spray the water out onto the lawn. Two types of heads are mainly used, spray heads (for smaller areas) and rotor heads (for covering large areas).
Rain Sensor – Shuts the system off in the event of rainfall eliminating unnecessary watering.
Piping – The pipes that deliver the water to each zone.
Wiring – Connects the valves to the timer. What type and how many of these components you use is determined by the final design of the irrigation plan.