In order to pull off a successful DIY home sprinkler system installation, you’ll need to do your due diligence. To borrow from the real estate vernacular, the three most important elements of setting up your own sprinkler system are: planning, planning, planning.
From layout to measurements to drainage, connections and proper burial, you’ll need to work out many details in advance if you hope to get the job done right. Fortunately, I’ve done this before– and not so successfully at first, I’ll confess– so my tips may just save you unwanted headaches down the road.
Here are some helpful planning tips for savvy sprinkler system self-setup:
System Design: Although we’re calling this a do-it-yourself job, DIY sometimes means knowing when to turn to the pros for help. Fear not, you can get that assistance for free. There are plenty of gardening stores and even big box home and garden centers that will be happy to design your sprinkler project free of charge providing you purchase the necessary components from them.
Measurements: Rough estimates won’t cut it. You’ll need to thoroughly and accurately measure your yard or garden so that you’ll know how many sprinkler heads you’ll need and where to place them for optimal performance. The last thing you need are sprinklers that don’t cover your entire lawn. Avoid this rookie mistake by fastidiously measuring the area to be watered.
Water Pressure: Before even buying any sprinkler system components, you’ll need to make sure your property’s water pressure is up to the task. If you’re not getting enough water pressure when you wash your car or water your garden, chances are you won’t have enough pressure to successfully water your entire yard. If your pressure is low, have it adjusted before installing a sprinkler system.
Check for Water Restrictions: I live in California and was rudely awakened when I learned that the city where I lived restricted water use, including sprinkler systems, in an effort to control drought. Things have only gotten worse over the years, with severe drought affecting record swathes of the nation. Check with your municipal water authority to ensure you’re in compliance with all restrictions. Failure to do so may result in heavy fines.
Bury Sprinkler Lines Properly: One of the biggest and most frequent mistakes people make when installing sprinkler systems is not burying the the lines deep enough. You’ll need to dig trenches that are at least six inches deep to safely accommodate most modern sprinkler lines. That’s deep enough to give you some wiggle room but not too deep as to create unnecessary headaches.
Beware of Dog: No matter how carefully you bury your sprinkler lines, doggedly determined dogs are known to dig them up for reasons unbeknownst to the human mind. That being said, if you follow the six inch rule above, you’re likely to keep canine excavators at bay.