It is finally springtime; time to start thinking about landscaping, planting flowers, and maybe adding a sprinkler system to help keep everything watered. Perhaps you are considering installing your own sprinkler system to save a little money. A do-it-yourself job will cost you only about half the price of having one installed professionally, but it may not be as easy as you think. It is not a simple Saturday morning project, it will take a lot of time and planning on your part. Keep these four pieces of advice in mind, when deciding if you should take on the chore of doing it yourself or hire a professional.
Map out the area you want watered
The most important step is precise planning. You want to begin by accurately measuring your front yard and drawing a rough sketch of what you are wanting watered. Shrubs, flower beds, trees and your lawn all require different types of watering. You will want to sketch the location and dimensions of each area you need a sprinkler for, such as your lawn or flowerbed. This way when you go to purchase the parts for your sprinkler system, a salesman can help you figure out exactly what you need. For areas 25 square feet or less you will need a small to medium sprinkler; larger areas will need a medium to large sprinkler. Different plant life will require different style sprinkler heads. While a flowerbed may need a bubbler head so they are not oversaturated, a lawn will need something different. You also want to make sure that you spread your sprinkler heads out so that they do not overlap too much, but completely cover every area so there are no dry spots. You will also want to note areas of slope and areas that have more sun or shade. All of this will play a huge part in the kind of sprinkler heads you will need for that area.
Check for utility lines before you dig
We have all heard the commercials reminding us to “Call before you dig” (BUD). However, I always thought this was for big home remodeling projects. It wasn’t until I did a little research, that I realized that I would need to call and have utility companies come and mark underground lines. The last thing you want to do is start digging and end up cutting your electric or gas line in two. It is better to know where all these underground lines are located so you can plan where to place your sprinklers to avoid them. You can call 811 before you dig, and they will come out and mark all underground lines. Believe it or not, it is actually the law that you call before you dig anywhere in your yard.
Dig your trenches deep enough
It is very important to dig your trenches deep enough the first time or you will soon realize that you will not be able to cover the sprinklers properly and have to re-dig your trenches. Save yourself the extra time and do it correctly the first time; you will want to dig down 6-12″ in order to bury your lines deep enough. You can either dig the trenches by hand with a spade, or save a lot of time and energy and rent a trencher. If you do use a trencher, you will still want to dig by hand in flower beds so that you do not destroy your flowers. It is also important to dig your trenches level so that all of your sprinklers are the same height. If not, it will affect how the water is dispersed.
Spend the extra money on a timer
As much as I try, I do not have a green thumb. The main reason I have such a hard time with plants is that I get busy and forget to water them. A timer is not that much of an extra investment, and it will simplify your life greatly. After you go through all the time and effort of installing your sprinkler system, if you incorporate a timer, your work is done. You will not have to worry over your garden all summer. You can just set your timer to turn your sprinkler on when you want, and forget about it. It is also great for when you take those summer vacations.