I don’t know of any homeowner who doesn’t wish to have a yard with a lush green lawn and beautiful flowers. We all want to be the envy of our neighbors in this respect. In order to get a yard like this though, it is important to ensure that it is properly watered. If you do have an automatic sprinkling system, you know how much time and effort this saves in comparison to the manual method.
If you don’t have an automatic sprinkler system and are considering putting one in, then hopefully you can install it without any problems. My husband and I have had some experience from a couple of situations we dealt with in the past and as a result learned some lessons which should make the next job much easier.
The first situation concerned the home we purchased many years ago. It already had an automatic sprinkler system installed, but the problem we discovered soon after was the inadequate water coverage and therefore many brown spots in the lawn. In addition, there was not a backflow preventer on the line which added some health risk on our water supply. We found out a few months later that the installation was the handy work of some local Boy Scouts, in attempt to help the single mom who previously owned the home.
Our second situation involved a new installation which was needed in the next home we moved into. There is a large area, roughly one third of an acre, which we wanted to cover with pasture grass that needed to be watered. We also needed to get adequate water for some very thirsty trees on the property. Our issue though, was how to get this area on an automatic system and connected to the well in the back yard. It would involve starting from the very beginning as there were no pipes laid in the ground before.
The information below is not a guide on how to install a sprinkler system. It is advice based our experience and the lessons we learned on how to make the job easier. The assumption is that you have a basic idea on how it is done.
Do your homework – Have a plan.
One of the first things you should do is have a plan and drawing one up can help. You can either draw the plan yourself or have your local home improvement store help you with this. Your plan should include the layout of the pipes and the type of sprinkler heads you will need, as this will vary depending on the plants and/or trees you are trying to water. Make sure that your system also adequately covers the area you need to water to prevent dry or brown spots. Check also to make sure that you have adequate water pressure coming in. You will want to purchase the right sized pipes and sprinkler heads to go with it.
Make your life easier – Don’t dig by hand, rent a Ditch Witch.
Now that you have your plan, it is time to dig. Assuming you have gotten the proper digging permit, you have a time limit, usually a week, in which to dig in order to lay your pipes. One of the lessons we learned is that it is easier to dig with a Ditch Witch than to do so by hand. We had a few blisters before we broke down and decided to rent one. The time savings was well worth it. The Ditch Witch will also help to ensure that the trench lines are straight and deep enough so that when you lay your pipes, they do not freeze in the winter if they are not properly drained.
Don’t make yourself sick – Install a Backflow Preventer.
Before the lines are laid, be sure to also install a backflow preventer. This is one part that is necessary and is most often missed as was certainly the case in our first house. A backflow preventer is used to prevent water from flowing backwards, if and when there is a reduction in water pressure. This is even more important if there is a broken pipe in the ground, as the contaminated water can be sucked back into the main water supply and make you ill.
Don’t bury your problems – Test your lines.
Now that you have laid the pipes, connected and glued all of the joints, be sure to test them for leaks before covering with dirt. This was one lesson I learned from my husband on a recent repair job. You can do this by capping the risers, before adding the sprinkler heads and turning on the water. If you see any pooling or sprays of water, then you know you have a leak. If you don’t have to dig them up again to fix those leaks from an improper connection, this will save a lot of time and headaches in the long run.