Underground Lawn Sprinkler Systems


Maintaining a beautiful lawn during hot, dry summers along with the added restrictions on water use is a problem for many home owners across America.

We have one of two choices. Either we water the lawn the best we can and try to save it, or we give up and let nature apply the torch to the lawn that was our pride in the early spring and summer.

One of the easiest ways to water a lawn properly and still have plenty of leisure time for other summer activities, is by installing a permanent underground lawn sprinkler system… complete with a zone control and timer. Installing drip irrigation is a good watering solution for landscape and garden plants.

These underground systems literally make play time out of spray time, but what is even more important, they make the most efficient and economical use of the available water supply.

Facts to Remember

If high water costs discourage lawn sprinkling in your area, here are facts to remember:

Underground sprinklers are adjustable, and special heads eliminate watering walks, driveways or the house because the sprinkling pattern can be pinpointed to water just the area you want! Most systems spray with droplets rather than a fine mist.

This minimizes water loss from evaporation or distortion of the spray pattern in windy weather.

If you live where lawn sprinkling is limited to certain hours (usually late evening or very early morning and odd and even days) , the underground lawn sprinklers will do the job quickly with a minimum of work on your part.

With just the turn of a valve or an automatic zone switch every half hour or 45 minutes, two or three times a week when necessary, you can water your lawn more thoroughly and more completely than with any other method.

Economical Materials

Irrigation and sprinkler systems have been used by farmers and nurseries for many years. However, the galvanized or copper pipes used decades ago have been replaced due to technology and being cost prohibitive to the home owner.

The economical answer has been found in the use of vinyl, polyethylene, PVC and other plastics and special rubber hose used in today°s underground lawn sprinklers.

Underground lawn sprinklers of this type were first introduced on the west coast and in the south about 60 years ago, and have been become a mainstay in home irrigation systems.

The underground lawn sprinkler system is installed to water the exact area you want. Sprinkler heads are set 10 to 20 feet apart (depending on the system you buy) and cover from 20 to 50-foot areas for each sprinkler head.

About five to eight heads per valve are all you can expect to operate efficiently from a 30 pound water pressure (which is about average).

With 60 pounds pressure, you can have 12 to 15 sprinkler heads per valve installed… pipe size also plays a part in the design.

You can economize by installing a sprinkler system only in the area where you want the most beautiful lawn. This will probably be your front lawn. Add to the system later to take care of other sections of lawn if you wish.


Numerous sprinkler systems are on the market each with its own features. Most of them use PVC piping that is corrosion-proof and will last for many years.

Sprinkler heads are made of rubber, plastic, or metal… although the nozzle itself can be made from brass, hard plastic, and even ceramic materials.

If dirt or other objects get into the system, the nozzle can easily be removed and the obstruction flushed. out. Most sprinkler heads fit flush with or below the ground and will not interfere with lawn mower use.

Several systems offer “pop-up” heads that rise several inches above ground level under water pressure, and drop again when the water is turned off. These heads rise above the grass so that the spray pattern is not deflected by the grass.

Do It Yourself?

The easiest to install of the sprinkler systems are pre-assembled and joins together with hose couplings, just as does your lawn hose.

In most systems, heads, couplings, and hose are separate, and are joined by the installer. These latter require more work on the part of the installer, but each system has its own definite advantages.

It’s a good idea to contact your local dealers and compare the different systems. Pick the one that seems to fit best your needs and budget.

You’ll find these dealers listed in your local telephone directory, or your local garden center can make some recommendations. Companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s often have installers they work with.

If you or other members of your family have real ‘“do it yourself” ability with a good knowledge of plumbing, you can probably install one of these systems yourself.

However, you’ll get better results and better service from your underground sprinkler system by having your dealer plan and install the system for you!

Unfortunately, the ease of installation has sometimes been over-emphasized, and in some cases. exaggerated in publicity and advertising.

When your dealer sells you an installed system, he will also guarantee complete, thorough coverage of the area you specify. He should also be willing to service your system for one season at no additional cost for a period of time.

Frequent Mistakes

There are several mistakes amateur installers are likely to make.

Many home owners expect to water their entire lawn at one time with an underground sprinkler system. Actually the lawn is watered by sections or zones. Each zone is controlled by a valve that supplies water to five to 15 heads, depending on the water pressure.

Amateurs often attempt to install too many sprinkler heads per zone. They are also inclined to give the instructions a brief reading, then attempt the installation without carefully following the manufacturer’s detailed step-by-step directions.

Companies like Toro, Rainbird, Hunter and others have entire R & D departments and intensive testing on their products.

Make sure you read the directions for proper installation.

However, if the home owner will let the dealer plan his system and install a proper water supply, the handyman could probably take over the installation from that point… but I would still recommend using an irrigation professional.

This includes laying out the system on top of the ground to determine the desired pattern; assembling the unit and adjusting the sprinkler heads for proper coverage, then cutting the trench in the ground and imbedding the system in the lawn.

If you want the utmost in lawn sprinkling convenience, you’ll want to consider an automatic sprinkler control. Once this control is installed and pre-set, you can forget your lawn sprinkling chores for the season.

Although checking in on the irrigation control is a good idea.

There are several models of these controls available. Irrigation controls can be set to operate the system from 1 minutes to hours each day.

It can be set to operate at any hour of the day or night and be preset to operate the system any day or days of the week for any length of time. This unit is precision made to operate for years without any service.

Should you invest in one of these masterminds, be sure to check your dates with it before planning any lawn parties. The affair might be interrupted by a shower of man-made origin.