How to install an underground sprinkler system? Guide & Tips for Gardeners

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Install an underground sprinkler system in your garden should follow a plan. The more detailed the project is, the more effective you are at installing the items. 

Why do people like to water the grass with the sprinkler? This is because of the huge benefits they can gain. You can take care of a luxury garden where there are various types of colorful flowers and green grass in the most convenient way. 

If the above reasons aren’t enough to convince you, why don’t we go into detail? You will find that the expense for a sprinkler system is worth it.

What is an underground sprinkler system?

install underground sprinkler system

An underground sprinkler system helps you smartly save precious water. This system includes a network of pipes. People often place them 12 inches underground. The system has retractable sprinkler heads as well. Water goes through the piles to the sprinkler. Then sprinkler heads distribute water evenly to the grass. 

Moreover, to build a master system, you can install a rain sensor on the sprinkler system. Thanks to this, you can know how much water the garden receives from the rain. Then you can control the amount of water more effectively.

How to install an underground sprinkler system

Step 1: Ask the building department for permits, if needed

You should contact the local building department and ask them if installing an underground sprinkler needs any types of permits or not. If not, go straight to the installation. If any, let’s apply for the permits. In this case, you shouldn’t do anything until you get the permits.

Step 2: Dig the trench

  • Determine where your water source is.
  • Use the wires or the flags to mark the locations of the trenches.
  • Then use a trenching machine to dig the trench. The perfect depth is from 4 to 12 inches. You should consult the recommended trench depth in your area to decide.

If you don’t have a trenching machine, you can rent it from the dealers or tool shops. If you rent it for a few hours, it is a small expense.

Step 3: Install the water source adapter

  • Turn the water off.
  • Place an adapter into the water source. The PVC cement and primer will help endure the joint.
  • A 90-degree will be the perfect one.

If you aren’t confident, a professional plumber can help you with this step.

Step 4: Create a valve controller

  • Determine the position of the valve controller.
  • In this position, dig an 18 inches deep hole. A 2×3 feets hole is perfect.
  • Put about 2 inches of gravel in the bottom of the hole. The surface must be flush with the ground.
  • Put the controller box into the hole.
  • Connect the valves with 40 PVC pipes. Don’t forget to install the backflow prevention device.
  • Dig a trench from the controller box to the timer.
  • Connect the valves and the wires.

Step 5: Install the pipes

  • Place the PVC pipes in the trenches. The PVC cement will help you connect the joints.
  • To the pipes that will connect to the sprinkler head, attach them with short flexible pipes. You will connect these pipes to the sprinkler head.
  • To the drip-irrigation tubing, you should attach a microfilter.

Step 6: Attach the pipes to the controller box

  • Connect them by the 90-degree elbows.

Step 7: Install the sprinklers

  • Do it as your plan.

Step 8: Roll out the tubing

  • Roll the irrigation along the grass bed. 
  • The distance between the two tubings is 12 inches.
  • If the length of the tubing is shorter than what you want, the push-in coupling will help you connect the two tubings.

Step 9: Secure the irrigation tubings

  • This step will help you secure and hide the tubings. This helps prevent the evaporation of water.
  • The ideal space between the two stakes is from 18 to 24 inches.

Step 10: Install the timer

  • Connect the wires from the controller box to the timer.
  • Read the instruction book, then attach the wires to the timer terminals.
  • Thanks to the timer, the watering will stop automatically.

Advice on installing an underground sprinkler system

1. Make sure to Measure Your Water Pressure First

Make sure to Measure Your Water Pressure First

After you have made the decision to install your very own underground sprinklers, you need to get the water pressure in your home gauged first. You can use a bucket that contains 5 gallons to help make it possible for you to measure the delivery of the system on a per-minute basis. You will need to send these details to the manufacturer of the sprinkler that you have chosen so they can analyze the figures. They will also need a drawing of the areas where the installation needs to be done or allow them to plan out how the system should be installed.

2. Expect a Layout and a Plan

Since these details are sent to the manufacturers, the next step will be for them to send you a layout. They will also include the materials that you are going to need to gather with you especially if there are items that the manufacturers are not able to provide you with upon installation. The layout provided by these providers can be free or they can cost a certain amount as well, most of the time, they are going to depend on the plant that you wish to be delivered to you as well as how soon you would want to get them.

3. DIY or Rent Out a Machine

It is possible to get the system installed by yourself. There have been many instances where people have made the decision to do the installation on their own. But if you wish to experience considerable convenience while doing. So, a pipe pulling machine is something that you can consider renting out as well.

If you live in areas where the climate is warm, the entire system is quite possible to run with the use of PVC pipes. Another alternative would be the use of polyethylene pipes. They tend to be more flexible especially if there is going to be a need for these pipes to successfully withstand cycles of freezing and thawing.

4. Call the Experts in

Not a lot of people are sold with the idea of having to do the job on their own. They understand that the whole process can be such a challenge especially if they do not really have that much knowledge when it comes to the plumbing system. This is the reason that most would rather call the professionals in. Yes, this is going to cost them some good cash as a result but they always feel that the numbers will be worth it. They can enjoy the ease and the convenience of being able to start using the system afterward.

They do need to choose the right experts though, finding people that have earned a good name and reputation in the business is crucial. Making sure that they are going to have the right level of experience is very necessary as well.


1. How much does an underground sprinkler system cost?

It depends on how big the garden is. Fortunately, we have a formula for you. You may spend from $1,714 to $3,520 on installing a sprinkler system for a ¼-acre garden. On average, people may spend about $2,538. This price includes the money for buying necessary material and labor expenses.

2. What are the essential components of a sprinkler system?

  • The PVC pipe. You should buy more than you need. In case of a wrong cut, you needn’t go far to buy some more.
  • PCV fittings: They help change the direction of the piping. 
  • Coming up with the Controllers & Timers, you will have a smart sprinkler system. The system can automatically turn off at the proper time.
  • The sprinkler heads spray the water evenly.
  • Some wires help connect the controller to the electricity supply.

3. How to check the flow rate of the sprinkler system?

Determine the flow rate. Then you can know how much water that the system supplies in a minute. Thanks to this, you can water the lawn with an accurate amount of water. The checking is simply if you follow the below steps:

  • Take a gallon container.
  • Turn on the sprinkler system.
  • Use the container to collect all the water from the outside spigot.
  • Count how long it takes to fill the container. 
  • Have a division of the container’s capacity and the time that it takes.
  • Then multiply the flow rate by 60. It is the flow rate per minute. If you want to know the flow rate per house, multiply the result by 60.

4. How many head types does the sprinkler have?

install underground sprinkler system

There are some designs of sprinkle. Belonging to the characteristics of the yard and the weed, you should choose the proper types of the sprinkler.

  • A fixed spray sprinkler is suitable for a small yard. It is good to use to water the shrubbery. The spanning ability is from 5 to 15 feet.
  • Bubbler sprinkler is the best choice for big trees. This type of sprinkler waters the trees flooding in the root zone. It spans well under the 5 feet radius.
  • If you have a big yard, let’s choose a gear drive sprinkler. Its performance is smooth. Moreover, you can adjust the spray patterns.
  • Multiple stream sprinkler’s streams are thin. People often install it in their uneven yard. The multiple stream sprinkler will rotate slowly. The working area is from 18 to 27 feet.
  • There is a type of sprinkler that is suitable for all types of gardens. When the system is on, the head is up. The head disappears if you turn off the system.

Final thoughts

Installing an underground sprinkler system isn’t difficult at all. However, you have some things to prepare. Let’s take a list. Therefore, you will forget annoying things. 

When you install the system, if there is anything wrong, you should not be impatient. Keep calm and check the plan again. Then you can find an effective solution for dealing with the problem.

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