Things You Will Need
- Graph paper
- Tape measure
- Colored pencils
- Small shovel
- Adjustable pliers
- Flash light
- 1-inch diameter PVC pipe
- 3/4-inch PVC pipe
- PVC fittings
- Sprinkler heads
- Compression tee
- Sprinkler system
Orbit has been producing lawn care products for more than 40 years, and their sprinkler system line makes installing an entire sprinkler system more manageable. Take the project one step at a time to minimize difficulties and mistakes along the way.
Do not underestimate the need to plan your sprinkler system before digging holes and trenches. A little planning in the beginning will save you time and money in the long run.
Plan the Sprinkler System
- Draw a diagram of your yard, including the positions of all relevant landscape features such as the house, sheds, fences, trees, bushes, shrubs, flower beds and vegetable gardens. Plan it to scale using graph paper so you will have a good idea of the amount of materials that will be required to complete the installation.
- Select the positions of the key features for your sprinkler installation. You will need to know where your water main runs and note the position of the main on your plan. Find the main water valve on your property out in your yard and remove the cover. You may need a small shovel and a pair of adjustable pliers to help you remove the cover. Take a flash light with you so you will be able to see the direction the water main pipe leaves the water main valve. Soon, you will need to expose the water main pipe in order to tap into it, so it will be useful to know what you are dealing with now.
- Note where the valve manifolds will go on the plan. Locate them near the house in the front yard and in the back yard.
- Think about how to run the underground pipe and how to break the installation as a whole up into different zones. You will not have enough water pressure to run the whole system at a time, so by breaking the plan up into different zones, you will help the installation work efficiently.
- Plan where you will install a backflow prevention device. There are three common types that are in use: a pressure vacuum breaker, a double-check valve and an automatic antisiphon valve. Check with your local water district to see which model is recommended for your area.
- Draw the layout of your pipes on your plan. There are two types of pipe that you will need to include: the main sprinkler lines (called header lines), which are made of 1-inch PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe, and the secondary lines (called lateral lines), which are typically made of 3/4-inch PVC pipe. Differentiate the two types by using different colored pencils on the plan. Be sure the plan makes the lateral lines branch off of the header lines.
- Plan the placement of the sprinkler timer and wire route. The wires have to connect directly to the valves in the manifold boxes to turn the valves on and off.
Install the Sprinkler System
- Dig a short trench to expose your water main. You will need to get down into the hole so you will need to expose enough of it that it will be easy to work with. Turn the water main off at the curb and tap into the water main with a compression tee.
- Install a gate valve 12 inches away from the compression tee. This will act as your main shut-off valve for the whole sprinkler system. Cover the valve with a box.
- Dig a trench for the main sprinkler line. The main sprinkler line will feed all valve stations in your system, so the main line will wrap around to the back of your home. Attach the main line to the valves to create the manifolds for the front and back yards.
- Dig the trenches for the zones. Run ¾-inch PVC pipe throughout each zone to feed the sprinklers.
- Tap into the ¾-inch PVC with tee fittings to install sprinkler heads. Install in-line drains at the lowest point of each zone.
- Attach the sprinkler wire from the sprinkler timer to each valve. Test the operation of each individual station, and look for leaking joints before burying the pipe.