Everyone wants to have a good-looking lawn, one that is lush and green without weeds, bare spots or dying grass. A lawn that is healthy, mown and perfectly edged can give a feeling of envy to most people. Everybody wants one, but achieving a well cared for lawn can be almost impossible.
It is hard to do because a lawn can be so demanding. After your lawn is established you have to deal with fertilizing, weed control, watering, mowing, edging, and raking to keep it in its best shape. That can be pretty time consuming, but really if you look at the individual tasks, you are sure to find that watering is the greatest demand. Underground sprinklers can take that chore out of the mix making it possible to have that lawn that you envision.
Of all the tasks that are necessary to maintain an attractive lawn, watering is the only one that can have a daily requirement. Depending on the season, the weather and the condition of your soil, you may have to water your lawn daily, twice a week, weekly, or every two weeks. You may have trees or gardens that require soaking, or need to be watered more often than the lawn. If you have a life, keeping up with the schedule may be hopeless. Having an automated sprinkler system can be a blessing.
Underground sprinklers that are automated can ensure that your lawn, trees and garden get watered on time. You can set it to water at the best time of the day without adjusting your schedule. You can avoid over-watering or under-watering. You will no longer have to “move the sprinkler”. In fact, you won’t even have to be there to ensure that your lawn gets the water that it deserves. Best of all, you won’t have to deal with the unsightly water hoses anymore. A sprinkler system that is underground makes for a beautiful lawn without the eyesores.
Choosing Underground Sprinklers
Choosing an underground sprinkler system that best meets your needs will require some research. Take the time to compare the features and the costs. The features of a sprinkler system includes timers, valves, pipe and sprinkler heads.
To select an appropriate system, it is important for you to know what your water pressure is in pounds per square inch (psi). The size of your meter or well pump, the size of your service line, and the water flow rate in terms of gallons per minute (GPM) may make a difference in the performance of the system. It will also determine what the size of the pipes in the system need to be. The building codes in your area may dictate most of this.
There are various types of timers, sometimes called sprinkler system controls. There are models that are designed to be kept outside while others are just for indoors. Some can be designated to water different sections at different times, while some cannot. That depends on the stations and programs that they provide. The effort of comparing timers is time well spent.
Sprinkler heads are another choice that is based on your landscaping and your preference. Some sprinkler heads stay underground when the sprinkler system isn’t activated, while others are always above ground. Above-ground sprinkler heads can be a pain when you are mowing plus they can be unattractive; however, underground sprinklers with above-ground sprinkler heads can be less expensive than ones with under-ground sprinklers.
The most common types of sprinkler heads in a sprinkler system include rotor heads and spray heads. Rotor heads are best for large areas, especially if you have slopes in your yard. For small areas without slopes and for gardens, trees, or flower beds, spray heads are better. Depending on the system that you choose, you may be able to use different types of sprinklers on different sections of your lawn.
Hiring a Contractor or Do-It-Yourself
You may choose to hire a contractor to install the system, or you might choose to take the money-saving option and do-it-yourself. Installing underground sprinklers can be difficult and labor intensive, so if you plan to install your own system yourself be sure that you understand what the undertaking will require. It requires lots of digging and a basic understanding of plumbing. You are not capable of hard labor and have limited knowledge of plumbing, hiring a contractor for the whole job, or at least part of it may be best.
Time, money, physical fitness, and skill are the primary determinants to make the decision of whether you take on the project or to hire a professional. If you are physically fit and have a lot a time, but no skill, you can study the process and develop the skills that you need to install an underground sprinkler system. If you don’t have the time or you have physical limitations, you may have no choice but to hire the project out. If money is tight, you may be able to hire a handyman instead of a specialist because handymen usually have better prices and they can usually do just about anything.
When hiring someone to do the job, it is imperative that you check their references. If they have never installed underground sprinklers, they might not know what’s involved. They are likely to become challenged and give up on the job before its finished, or worst, mess it up which will definitely make you expenditure a waste. Talking to people that they worked for before and finding out that they do have experience installing underground sprinklers can set your mind at ease while protecting your investment.
To further secure the project, you might choose to hire a contractor who has a license to install sprinkler systems. Licensed contractors usually provide warranties and have insurance or bonds to pay for mistakes. Getting proof of licensure, insurance and bonding is a good idea.
Planning the Project
Planning is necessary before you purchase or install an underground sprinkler system. If you are hiring a contractor, you may like to get them involved during the planning project, they are sure to appreciate it. They can make recommendations in regard to the system and can really help you out with making a map of the plan for the project.
For safety, you should always check for underground utilities before installing an underground sprinkler system. In some cities, a building permit is required. If you hire a contractor, they usually take care of that for you. At any rate, make sure that is done before anyone starts digging. Digging into underground utilities can be dangerous and costly, and it’s against the law.
Whether or not a building permit is required, it is best to check. There may be building codes that must be adhered to when installing a sprinkler system. Following them will make sure that the sprinkler system is a property improvement and code violations will not be held against you if you ever sell the property. Checking the codes can also help you to decide to how deep to bury lines to protect them from freezing.
Of course your planning will consider your landscaping, determining where the sprinklers will be and the need for separate lines to be hooked up to the timer stations. This is a necessity if you intend to automate your system to water separate areas at different times. It will help you to select appropriate sprinkler heads when purchasing your system.
Whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a contractor, be sure that project is totally mapped out before you get started. Planning is the heartbeat of a good project. A well-planned project speeds up the process and makes project management so much easier.
Installing the System
If you hire a contractor, you don’t need to be concerned about installing the system. However, if you are doing it yourself, here are some tips that will make the installation easier.
The most time-consuming process of installing an underground sprinkler system involves digging. Using the project map, use stakes and string to mark where your lines will lay. You can tie a flag to the string to mark where your sprinkler heads will be located. This will give you a visual of the system. You can measure everything to make sure that it will provide sufficient coverage. If it won’t, it is worth your time to revamp the plan.
The next step is to make the trenches that the pipes will lay in. This can be done with shovel or a garden spade, but renting a trencher makes it so much easier and less labor-intensive. The trenches need to be from 6-12 inches deep, depending on the severity of freezing in your area and the specifications of the system. It is important to ensure that the ditches are level because if they aren’t, gravity can be problem that will make your underground sprinklers less efficient.
After the trenches are done, all you have left is assembly of the system, hooking it up to your service line, installing sprinkler heads, burying the lines, and connecting your timers. As for the assembly, follow the directions that come with the system. It is best not to connect the sprinkler heads or bury the lines until after the system has been connected to the service line and tested. This will enable you to check for leaks in the water lines and repair them as well flushing out debris that has the possibility of damaging your sprinkler heads.
To connect the system to the service line, you must first shut off the water. It is best if you install a shut-off valve for the sprinkler system. That will keep you from having to shut-off the water to your house if you need to work on your underground sprinklers. Hooking up the system to the service line requires basic knowledge of plumbing, so if you don’t have it, it may be best to hire a plumber to take care of the task.
After the system is connected and tested, you will be ready to install the sprinklers and timers. Install the sprinklers and timers according to the instructions that came with the system and bury the lines. Your underground sprinklers are now ready to go.