We lived in an arid part of the country for a few years and wanted a lawn for our children. The only way to make that happen was with a sprinkler system. We decided to install it ourselves. It seemed straight forward and simple enough. There were a few things that we should have considered before installation that would have made the process smooth sailing.
Consider the Pipes: Consider the type of system you’ll be installing, but also consider what that system is made of. Saving money now is a good idea, but saving money later may be a better idea. If you buy a cheap system, you can expect to have some problems down the road. If you buy a system with cheaply made pipes, consider that they may crack or become blocked within a few years. You will have to dig up your lawn to find the problem. Let me tell you, digging up your flower beds, hedges, and fruit trees is a complete nightmare. There were three separate cracked pipes in our system. We think it occurred when a heavy piece of machinery was driven over the lawn to dig a pond. If you can afford it, get the most durable system you can.
The Pump System: Ask yourself, “If I have a problem with the pump system, can I fix it myself?” This is important when you’re deciding what type of system to buy. Often, you’ll need to hire an electrician or replace the pump system if something goes wrong. Will you have the money to do that? Is it something you can troubleshoot yourself? A mechanical failure will eventually happen to anything electrical. Are you prepared for it? We bought the simplest system available to ensure that we could take care of any issues that came up ourselves.
Your Area: Consider the area you live in and just how much water you really need. Look for a system that saves as much water as possible. When we lived in Southern California, I saw people watering their lawns multiple times per day, when twice would have sufficed. Water is a precious resource. Use as many native plants as you possibly can in your design and you won’t be a water hog. If you go overboard or choose a system that makes Niagara Falls look like a trickle, your water bill is going to skyrocket. Consider the cost of not just installing a system, but using it each month as well.
Also consider the type of soil in your area and the frost line if applicable. Our area’s frost line is eighteen inches deep and through some serious rock. A sprinkler system here would be a serious undertaking for anyone. If the system wasn’t buried below the frost line, the pipes would crack year after year.
Water: You also need to consider the type of water that will supply your system. If you use water from an unfiltered source to save money, you could very easily block your system over time. Yes, it will cut down on your monthly water bill, but may very well cause costly repairs from silt or hard water deposits. Pooling of water in an area or a slight or nonexistent spray can be signs of buildup or even a cracked pipe.
If you consider these things before you make a purchase and go to the trouble of installing your sprinkler system, you’ll save a ton of money, time, and labor.