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How to Install a Sprinkler System by Yourself

Man installing diy sprinkler system in lawn
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One of the top secrets to a lush and verdant lawn is proper watering. You can accomplish this efficiently by using a lawn sprinkler system. With the right supplies and a little know-how, you can construct your own sprinkler system and save some money on labor costs. Here’s everything you need to know to get started and help you determine if you’re up for the challenge.

Products and tools you’ll need: 

How to install your own sprinkler system

Beofre you start, you may be wondering how much your DIY sprinkler system is going to cost. In general, the cost of a DIY sprinkler installation is typically between $1,500 – $2,000, saving you a hundreds of dollars from the average cost of hiring a pro, which is $2,535. 

Learning how to install a sprinkler system isn’t overly complicated, but it’s very important to do it properly. Otherwise, you can end up with water flowing places you don’t want it to go, or not flowing anywhere at all. Follow these steps carefully to ensure your sprinkler project is a success. 

Step one: Check for underground utility lines 

One thing to do before you get started is to check with your local building department to see if you need a permit for your DIY sprinkler system. You also need to call 811 or visit your state’s 811 website before you start a digging project to make sure you don’t disrupt any underground utility lines.

Step two: Gather information about your water supply

To make sure you order the right components, you’ll need to gather some important information about your water supply, including the following:

  • Water pressure in PSI
  • Size of the water meter (municipal system) or well pump (well water)
  • Size of the water service line
  • Flow rate measured in gallons per minute

Step three: Create an irrigation map

Draw a diagram of your property, including any trees, shrubs, and flower beds. Mark on the diagram where the control valves and pipes will go. Mark where the sprinkler heads will go as well. Be sure to space them so they’ll provide adequate coverage.

Step four: Gather your supplies

Based on the specifications of your water system and irrigation map, gather the components of your sprinkler system. The main parts of any sprinkler system include:

  • Control valves
  • Sprinkler heads
  • Risers
  • PVC pipe
  • Automatic timer

Step five: Map your installation and dig trenches

Before you start digging, place stakes or flags in your yard to mark where each sprinkler will go. Then, connect the stakes with string to indicate where the pipes will lay underground.

After you’ve marked the placement of your sprinklers and pipes, you can start digging trenches for your pipes. Just follow along the string and dig. Your trenches should be 8 to 10 inches deep and 4 inches wide.

Step six: Connect your pipes

Lay your pipes into the complete trench to make sure you have enough. Using a primer and adhesive, connect the ends of the PVC pipes. Use a tee connection where each sprinkler will go.

Step seven: Hook up the system to a water source 

Once your pipe is assembled, you’re ready to connect the system to the main water source. Connect your control valve to an existing faucet or directly to the service line. Your PVC sprinkler pipe will connect to the control valve as well. You can use multiple valves to control water flow to different zones of your yard.

Note: If connecting to the service line, it’s recommended to hire a plumber to complete this step. 

Step eight: Attach the risers and flush out the system

Risers will connect the sprinkler heads to your PVC piping. Place a riser into each tee connection along your PVC pipes. You’ll also want to flush out the system of any dirt that might have gotten into the pipes during construction. Turn on the system’s main water supply and let it go until any debris has flowed out.

Step nine: Install sprinkler heads and an automatic timer

Attach a sprinkler head to each riser. Be sure that they are placed pointing in the right direction and that they connect at, or just above, the soil level to ensure proper function.

Next, it’s time to set up your automatic timer. Wire your timer to the control valve using a waterproof pipe. The timer should be programmable so that you can schedule different watering zones of your yard at various times

Step ten: Test your system and bury the pipe

Once you’ve verified your system is flowing properly with no leaks, you can finally bury or cover the pipe and enjoy your new sprinkler system.

Cost of a professionally installed sprinkler system installation

Hiring a professional contractor to build your system will generally cost between $1,679 to $3,541. While more costly than doing it yourself, a contractor will likely be able to design your system in an efficient way that conserves water over time. Vet them carefully. Request an on-site estimate and ask for their professional certifications and references.

The bottom line 

Installing your sprinkler system is doable if you’re willing and able to put in the work and time required to do it right. However, it is one of the more challenging projects a homeowner can take on themselves. Even experienced DIYers may need a plumber or electrician to complete certain aspects.

Frequently asked questions


How do I build my own sprinkler system?


To build your own sprinkler system, you need PVC pipe, sprinkler heads, risers, and a control valve. You’ll need to dig a trench for the pipe and properly connect the system to your water service line.


How much does it cost to build my own sprinkler system?


Typically you can build your own sprinkler system for less than $1,500. The size and complexity of the system will greatly determine the cost.


Why should I install a sprinkler system in my yard?


Sprinkler systems are beneficial for those who are looking to save time and money to water their lawn. Sprinkler systems are set on a timer to water your lawn at set periods of the day, making them very convenient if you’re out of the house all day.


Should I hire a professional to install a sprinkler system?


Installing a sprinkler system by yourself is hard work, and can be a bit challenging if you’ve never done it before. If you’re not feeling confident or handy enough to install one on your own, it’s best to hire a contractor.

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