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Install an Automatic Sprinkler System in Eight Easy Steps

Are you are tired of dragging the hose and sprinkler around your lawn all summer? Then consider installing an automatic sprinkler system. A day or two of work with a few simple tools will save you hours of drudgery.

Eight Steps to Installing a Sprinkler System

  1. Measure the lawn area, then lay out your system coverage. You can pick up a grid template for this purpose at your local home improvement store or any store that sells sprinkler supplies. Make sure you have overlap on all your sprinkler patterns. Put no more than six sprinklers on one valve circuit.
  2. Using your use grid template, make a list of what you will need: PVC pipe (3/4" schedule 40 pipe is recommended), glue, elbows, tees, risers, sprinkler heads, valves, manifold, and controller box. If you are installing a drip system, get the pieces for it as well. Purchase a bit more than you need--it will save you a trip back to the store and give you a stock of repair parts.
  3. Dig trenches for your supply pipes. You will need a main supply with a separate shutoff running to your manifold, then pipes running from the manifold to the sprinkler heads (and drip system, if you're installing one). Depth of the trenches is determined by your coldest winter temperatures. The colder the deeper, up to 18 inches. Make sure you place a drain at the lowest point of the system.
  4. Lay out your pipe, valves, and manifold, connectors, risers, and sprinkler heads. Cut pipe as needed with a hacksaw or a pipe cutter. Once everything is in place, glue all the connections with PVC glue.
  5. Adjust the height of the sprinkler head risers so the heads are even with the lawn surface. Don't install the sprinkler heads just yet.
  6. Connect the water supply to the manifold and manually test the valves. This will also flush any debris from the system that could clog sprinkler heads. Then install the sprinkler heads.
  7. Connect the controller box to the valves, following the manufacturer's instruction manual.
  8. Connect the controller box to an electrical outlet and program it according to the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure you program according to any local watering restrictions on days of the week, time of day, etc. And mark your calendar to turn off and drain the system before the first hard freeze.

Now pour yourself a cold glass of lemonade and enjoy the summer on your porch or patio while your automatic sprinkler system takes care of the watering chores.