Install an Irrigation System

A key step in your landscape project is the irrigation system. Many households use more than half of their water for landscape irrigation, so we’ve got tips to help you make the most of every drop. Whether you’re converting an existing lawn sprinkler system or starting from scratch, we’ve got you covered.

Irrigation System Installation Recommendations

To ensure high quality product, we recommend purchasing irrigation equipment from a local irrigation suppler rather than a big box store. See our list of recommended irrigation suppliers and manufacturers below.

  • Use schedule 40 PVC for mainlines and Class 200 for lateral lines.
  • Install a shut off ball valve on the mainline so you can work on the system.
  • Each irrigation zone should include plants with very similar water needs. Medium water needing plants on one zone and low water needing plants on another zone. In addition, each irrigation zone should be in a single microclimate. For example, if one part of the yard is in full sun all day and the other is in part shade, they should be on separate irrigation zones.
  1. Drip Systems
  2. Sprinkler Systems

Drip Systems

  • Each drip irrigation zone should have a filter and a pressure regulator. 
  • Use in-line drip tubing for the best results. These ½-inch drip lines have factory installed emitters built into the wall of the tubing every 12 or 18 inches. This allows you to install the tubing in parallel rows across your entire planting area resulting in uniform watering. See more drip irrigation and maintenance resources below.
  • To avoid frequent maintenance, minimize the use of ¼-inch “spaghetti” tubing and multi-outlet high volume drip such as “octa-bubblers” or “quadra-bubblers.” As an alternative, run your ½-inch tubing closer to the plants.
  • Always use pressure compensating emitters. This ensures all emitters flow at the same rate regardless of the elevation.
  • Install the drip tubing on top of the soil and then install 2 to 3 inches of mulch on top.
  • Install a flush cap on the drip line so you can flush the line.  
  • Loop the drip lines instead in installing one long run. This ensures the water pressure equalizes throughout the line.
  • When installing drip emitters into ½-inch tubing try doing it when the tubing is cold. The holes will punch in much easier.
  • Use a lot of drip stakes when installing tubing. These will help hold the drip line in place.

Irrigation System Maintenance Recommendations

We recommend inspecting your irrigation system by manually running each irrigation zone several times per year and inspecting the sprinklers and drip. View our DIY Irrigation System Check in the resource list below to help you inspect your system. When inspecting look for the following:

  • Broken Sprinklers – A broken sprinkler head can lose more than 200 gallons during one 15-minute watering. 
  • Blocked Sprinklers – When grass or plants block a sprinkler’s spray, it results in flooding at that plant and dry areas beyond. Prune plants/grass so sprinklers can spray unobstructed.
  • Misting Sprinklers – If the sprinklers are misting, it is a sign that the water pressure is too high. Misting sprinklers waste water because the small water drops are carried away in the wind. This can be remedied by installing a pressure regulator at the valve or installing pressure regulating sprinklers.
  • Mis-directed Sprinklers – Sometimes sprinklers get turned around and end up watering the driveway or sidewalk. Most sprinkler stems (the part that pops up) can be twisted to the correct direction. (Note: It is normal to hear a ratcheting sound when you twist the sprinkler stem.)
  • Broken Drip Line – Breaks in a drip line can go undetected for years. It is important to check the drip zones carefully by looking and listening for breaks
  • Clogged/ Missing or Broken Drip Emitters – These can go undetected for years and result in plants getting too much or too little water. 
  • Constant Leaks – Check for slow, constant leaks in your irrigation system. The usual location for constant leaks is the irrigation valve. Irrigation valves can leak due to a worn-out diaphragm in the valve assembly. This results in water seeping down the sprinkler pipe to the lowest sprinkler head. If you have sprinkler heads that always seem to always have a little water flowing out of them and even have moss growing on them, you might have a leaking valve. Contact a landscape professional to repair the valve assembly.

Irrigation Controllers

Irrigation controllers help you automate your irrigation system throughout the year, resulting in a healthy, efficiently watered landscape without wasting water. Get details about our Smart Controller Rebate and see tips below to get you started: 

  • Learn to program your controller to suit your landscape. We recommend reading the manual or watching a tutorial to familiarize yourself with your controller. 
    • Most irrigation controllers have the following features to ensure your landscape is watered efficiently.
      • Programs: Controllers generally have two or more programs available. This allows you to use a separate program for plants with different water needs. Use Program A for lawns and Program B for shrubs. This will allow you to water lawns more days per week than shrubs. 
      • Start Times: The Controller "start times" setting allows you to set multiple run times for each program.
      • Run Times: The Controller “run times” setting determines how many minutes the station will water each start time. 
  • Set your watering schedule. View watering recommendations in our Lawn and Landscape Watering Schedule (PDF) to help you determine your yard’s needs.
    • Please note: For new landscapes, the plants will need to be watered more days per week to ensure they get established. 
  • Replace the battery in your controller once a year. This will ensure you don’t lose your programming when the power goes out.

Drip Irrigation, Watering, and Maintenance Resources

Irrigation Suppliers and Manufacturers

Local Irrigation Suppliers

We recommend purchasing irrigation equipment from local irrigation suppliers who sell quality commercial-grade equipment and have expert knowledge on the products.

Irrigation Equipment Manufacturers

Below is a list of leading irrigation equipment manufacturers. In additional to equipment, they also have resources available to assist with irrigation design, controller manuals, technical support, and more.

Irrigation Connection (PDF)

Irrigation Connection Graphic

Example of the components of an irrigation connection including the shut-off valve, irrigation valve, filter, and pressure regulator for a drip system.

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