We have a shrub-free lawn about 60 feet wide, 15 feet deep, divided by a
I'd like to get a SIMPLE sprinkler system to help avoid dragging hoses all
over the yard. I don't want some system that measures rainfall and
automatically turns on and off -- just something that I can turn on at two
locations and do the job -- then turn it off. I would think that two jets on
each side of the walkway would do the job.
It seems to me that this should be a fairly easy job that I could do myself.
Am I right? Where would I go to get the materials?
You can get as complicated or as simple as you want.
Complicated: Find and dig up your water supply line. Dig a trench from
there over to where you want the manifold. Dig other trenches from where
manifold is going out to the heads. Run electrical control line to where
electrical control will be. You can then run it on auto, or manual.
Easy: Use battery operated clocks. It sounds like you have a
straightforward application, and this would minimize digging and all the
falderal of manifold/controller/actuator valves. The downside to the
battery devices is that they will freeze, and will need regular battery
OR just run a couple of lines to the sprayers from a water line, and use
manual valves to turn on and off. Simple, but not a good idea if you are
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It depends on "simple" With exception of programmable timers, most
lawn irrigation components are pretty cheap. Some folks run
underground sprinkler system from a hose faucet. I had one installed
at our last home and the full system, which included six zones, a
programmable timer and the rain sensor was in the range of about
$1,400 installed. Installation is a pretty straight forward do-it-
yourself project but when I looked at component prices, cost of
renting a trencher and back pain, I was doing a lot of work for about
The system you are describing, if adequate, should be cheap. BTY, the
rain-sensor option was about $30.
It may not be as simple as you want it to be. Some issues:
Permit? In many locations you need one to install a sprinkler system
Backflow preventer is required
In some locations that rain sensor that you want to avoid is
required by law to cut down on wasted water
It is fairly easy as long as you're comfortable with basic
plumbing and can figure out the appropriate locations for
heads, type of heads, etc.
The components are available either at home center stores,
plumbing supply, irrigation supply, or online. Online generally
has the best selection and pricing. I'd also reconsider not
making it automated. It's not that much for a controller and
if you have a place to mount it and can work it in, having it
fully automated sure makes it a lot easier. How many times
are you going to turn it on, forget about it and have it run
for 3 hours?
Just create a small manifold out of PVC piping (1' diameter) that
connects to an outside faucet. The manifold just utilizes a couple of
"T" connector aligned together. This will allow the water to feed
either of your two main lines out to you sprinkler heads. Attached to
each "T", put a shut-off valve. Then run either black poly piping
(come in 100 ' rolls), or PVC pipes. I would suggest using the black
poly as it's easier to work with. Just cut the piping where you want
to place a sprinkler head. Attach a "T" adapter and a threaded nipple
to attach your sprinkler head onto. add another section of piping to
your"T" and continue down the run. At the end of your run, use a
elbow (90 degrees) addapter with a nipple and sprinkler.
Create your second run the same way. Then dig a trench and bury the
runs. Attach the manifold to your water faucet and you're ready to
adjust your sprinkler heads for coverage.
You'll need to turn the water faucet one and then either one of the
valves to feed each run individually.
Not hard to do, just takes time and a good shovel, or a trench digger.
The simplest solution is to quit putting the hoses away; just leave them
there for the next time you water.
Installing a system requires a lot of planning, starting with measuring
the pressure and size of your water supply, and in cities, that can vary
during the day, high at night when no one is using the water; low in the
morning when everyone is taking showers. One advantage of a timer is
that you can set it to water just before dawn, when the pressure is high
and the water will sink in without a lot of evaporation.
The only heads that I have seen irrigate in a circular pattern, or a
fraction of a circle, so to water a rectangular area without waste you
probably need a 90 degree head at each corner, and enough heads between
them to fill in the areas they don't reach (the pros recommend double
coverage or overlap). If you want to avoid watering the walkway, it
will take more heads.
Many manufacturers make multiple grades of equipment, a cheap one that
won't last, and a pro line that is sturdier. You can guess which line
Home Depot and the ilk carry. My best advice is, unless you are handy
and have a lot of time and knowledge, hire a pro to set up your service.
I did, and he even put in an extra valve in case I wanted to add
another zone (I did add a zone to water some flower beds a few years
later), and the pro grade equipment he installed has worked flawlessly
for many years.
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