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The Home Depot

Sprinkler System Installation Guide

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Landscaping > Sprinkler System Installation Guide
Sprinkler System Installation Guide

If you live in areas where your outdoor landscape needs irrigation during the growing season, a sprinkler system could be an important outdoor component. Instead of arranging and adjusting a sprinkler in your yard, moving it frequently to make sure that every plant receives moisture, a sprinkler system installs permanently into your landscape to deliver water exactly where plants need it.


By following general guidelines such as planning the placement and then proceeding with digging and trenching, you can make sure that your sprinkler system will serve your needs efficiently. With a sprinkler system installation guide, your landscape should stay vibrant and healthy throughout the growing season.

  1. 1.Materials and Codes

    It’s imperative that you know exactly what’s under the ground and where every cable or line exists before you break ground and dig.

    Your geographical location will determine some of the materials you use for your sprinkler system. If you live where it stays above freezing year-round, you can install PVC pipe. If you live where the ground freezes for part of the year, you’ll need flexible polyethylene pipe instead, to withstand the contraction and expansion of the soil.


    You’ll also need to install a backflow preventer 1 foot above the highest point in your landscape to prevent your irrigation system from causing contamination to the potable water supply.


    Check with your local municipality to see what building codes govern the installation of a sprinkler system. You may have to have your system inspected and you probably also need to purchase a building permit.

  2. 2.Preparation

    One of the first steps in installing a sprinkler system involves contacting your local utility companies – cable, electric, telephone, water and gas – to have a representative from each company come to your property to mark underground lines. It’s imperative that you know exactly what’s under the ground and where every cable or line exists before you break ground and dig.


    Once you know where every line sits underground on your property, you’re ready to plan where you want to locate your sprinkler system. Draw out where you want sprinklers, drip emitters, pipes and valve boxes throughout your landscape. Once you draw the configuration, mark it in your yard with stakes.


    Perform a final inspection of the entire system, examining the stakes you installed, to ensure that it serves your needs. Make any final adjustments before you proceed with breaking ground.

  4. 3.Installation

    The main irrigation pipes should be about 8 to 10 inches below the surface of the soil. Dig these first. After you position the main lines, add the branch lines.


    An easier alternative to digging trenches for pipes by hand is to use a pipe-pulling machine that helps you bore and run the various pipes down into the soil and through the ground where you want them. Once you get all the pipe connections installed, it’s time to install the sprinkler heads. Choose from rotary heads that will cover large areas, smaller spray heads for medium-size areas and bubbler heads for the smallest landscape areas.


    Once you have your sprinkler system installed, the task of irrigating your landscaping areas suddenly becomes as simple as setting the timer to make sure the water comes on when you want to water your yard.

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