Irrigation System

How To Install Irrigation Systems?

Installing an irrigation system helps conserve water through proper placement of sprinklers, even water flow, consistent timing, and the right amount of water based on the climate where you live. A properly installed irrigation system is ideal for water conservation while keeping your lawn and landscape healthy.

In this article, you are going to learn the steps to install an irrigation system. Also, you will know which is the best irrigation system to install, factors to consider before installing an irrigation system, materials needed to install, who should install one and if the installation is expensive or not.

1. Remove Sod First

Sod or turf is a piece of grass-covered surface with soil held together by the roots of the grass. 

  • Cut off the sod before you dig a hole so it can be put back into place. Cut it by putting a sharp spade about 2 to 3 inches deep along the outlines of the trenches..
  • Remove and keep the grass on top of the trenches for replanting later if you installing an  irrigation system in an existing lawn.
  • Cut the pieces of sod into ideal size lengths of 2 to 3 feet and then undercut them with the spade. 
  • Roll the pieces of sod, and place them in a shady, undisturbed place. 
  • Water them lightly and at times so that they don’t dry out.

2. Pull The Pipes With A Vibratory Plow

Pulling polyethylene pipe across the ground is easier, faster and doesn’t create a huge mess compared to digging trenches. Listed below are things to consider when pulling pipes with the help of a pipe pulling machine:

  • Avoid tree roots. To get a rough idea of how far the roots extend from the trunk, consider that the root system is usually the same size as the canopy.
  • Cut down to a depth of about 10 inches.
  • Insert the pipe into the hole as you pull.
  • Make sure not to pull pipes that are joined as they can break underground.
  • Pull all the pipes immediately and return the machine if you rent a plow.
  • A vibratory plow may not work in extremely compacted soil, so you may require a trencher in place of it. 

3. Hand-Dig Around Utilities

Always hand-dig over and around utilities, no matter how deep you think a utility pipe or wire is buried.

  • Make sure to keep the holes or trenches minimum 18 inches away from 811 markings. The 811 guidelines suggest that trenches/holes should be kept at least 18 inches away from both sides of marked lines.
  • If you have placed underground pipes or wires yourself, consult your notes to determine their location. 
  • There are private location service providers who will inspect your property for a fee and help you locate any underground conduits, pipes, and wires. 
  • Dig slowly and methodically as irrigation lines and landscape lighting conduits and cables are not determined by 811 location services. 

4. Bore Under Obstructions

Obstructions like driveways and sidewalks might appear impossible to get over. Since the pipe has to go under these obstacles, you will have to find the solution to dig a trench without removing the hard surface. The most cost effective and efficient way to bore under any obstacle is to create a hole with the help of the power of water. Just attach a jet nozzle to one end of a piece of PVC pipe and a garden hose to the other end with the required fittings. The force of the water will create a hole the same exact size as your PVC pipe through to the other side. 

Things required to bore under an obstacle:

  • Brass 2 inch sweeper nozzle (1 qty)
  • PVC male hose end adapter fitting (2 qty)
  • Brass 3/4 inch female hose to 3/4 inch female pipe swivel (1 qty)
  • Brass 3/4″ male hose to 3/4″ female pipe(1 qty)
  • PVC glue
  • Garden hose

Follow the steps the listed below:

  • First dig your trenches on both sides of the walk to the depth required for your system. (at least about 6-12 inches). 
  • With the help of a PVC pipe cutter, now cut the piece of schedule 40 PVC pipe about 2-4 feet longer than the width of your driveway or sidewalk. 
  • Next, attach the brass 3/4″ female hose to 3/4″ female pipe swivel to one of the PVC male adapters. Then attach the brass 3/4″ male hose to 3/4″ pipe fitting to the other PVC male adapter on the opposite side. 
  • Connect your garden hose to a female pipe swivel adapter. Connect the male hose/female pipe adapter to your 2 inch sweeper nozzle. 
  • Turn on the water and grab onto the pipe. Keep the pipe level at the bottom of the trench and insert the boring tool into the soil. The dirt will settle at the end of the nozzle, simply leave the nozzle in place for 15 to 30 seconds to enable the water to loosen the soil. 
  • Pull back the pipe 6 inches to a foot and jab it into the soil again and keep repeating this step.
  • Once the pipe has come through to the other side you can stop the water and cut the hose end fittings from both ends of the pipe. 
  • Attach your fittings to the pipe and continue to assemble your irrigation pipe.

5. Keep Pipes Clean

Dirt and other sediments that get into the pipes will clog the heads. Keep all that out by covering the ends with duct tape. Apart from dirt and rocks, rarely snakes and frogs have been found clogging up the works. After kicking dirt down in the pipe, flush the pipe before installing that head.

Another way to keep pipes clean is to use a filtration system to eliminate most particulate matter from the water source. Use of a very efficient filtration system is the first thing you can do to prevent any particles from entering an irrigation system.

6. Don’t Cut Pipes With a Saw

If you cut the pipes with a saw, it can leave behind plastic shavings that could clog the sprinkler heads. A cheap poly pipe cutter also works nicely. If available, pick a bright-colored one, that will be easier to spot in the grass. 

However, proper technique is important when using a pipe cutter. Follow the instructions that come along with it and make several practice cuts to be able to use it perfectly. Using the cutter wrong can lead to hairline cracks in the pipe which will not be noticeable until it is too late and you experience a leak. 

Use the cutter to slice through the pipe with much less pressure. Very gently press the handles and rotate the cutter around the pipe.  As you do it, the razor sharp blade will cleanly and smoothly slice through the pipe without leaving burrs or ridges. 

7. Install Heads With Swing Pipe

Next, install a section of ‘swing pipe,’ usually called ‘funny pipe,’ between the end of the poly pipe and the sprinkler head. Beginners need to make sure that you have all the necessary tools on hand to properly install the swing pipe on the sprinkler system. The only tools you will need include:

  • the swing pipe itself
  • a shovel
  • a sharp knife or pipe cutter
  • spiral barb fittings (particularly, swing pipe fittings)

You have to locate each point where you will have a sprinkler head and measure the length of the swing pipe you need. Then, you can cut the piping as required and fit it to the PVC pipe itself, using your spiral barb fittings to tighten the connection. Repeat this step with each of the swing pipes you install on your sprinkler heads.

Swing piping is also more durable than other available options, since it enables the head to move a little in case it’s run over by a vehicle or pushed around by the frozen ground. When a head is directly connected to the rigid poly pipe, any movement could split the fitting that connects them. 

8. Cut Out Kinks

A kink is a sharp twist or curve that creates a weak spot in a poly pipe. Trying to straighten them will not solve the problem. Rather, remove the kink by cutting it out and join two pipes together with a coupler. Don’t cut the pipes with the help of a saw since it leaves plastic shavings behind. The shavings lead to clogging in sprinkler heads. Rather, use a poly pipe cutter. It’s inexpensive, readily available, and works really well. If you need to pull a pipe that has been joined, add some extra clamps to the fitting and hook up the longer section of the pipe to the plow.

9. Protect Wires From The Elements

The wire connections in the valve box need connectors approved for direct burial. Water and electricity cannot be mixed. Keep wire connections on each valve dry and protected to help them last longer and maintain system communications so that the sprinklers work properly. 

To do this, you can add waterproof connectors to protect the system wiring from the elements. You can get waterproof connectors from any home improvement store, and they cost less than a dollar each. Installation requires not much more than a simple twist. Mixed with a sealant, waterproof wire connectors will keep the electric components of a sprinkler system free from contact with moisture.

What Is The Best Irrigation System To Install?

Among different irrigation system techniques, drip irrigation systems are the best to install. In this system, water is supplied directly to the root zone of a plant in a slow but steady way through hoses or tubes that release the water through inline emitters, bubbler nozzles, or micro-sprayers. 

Well-established and properly installed drip irrigation systems use 30 to 50 percent less water than other irrigation systems. Since the water is supplied at the soil level, there is no wastage or runoff and it is more easily soaked in complex soil like sand or clay by the slow application. This system can be either a manual or an automated installation. 

Regular maintenance is necessarily required for any irrigation system and if you are attentive it may extend the life of your irrigation system. With drip irrigation, the filters require flushing from time to time to prevent clogging and mineral buildup. Inappropriate installation of a drip system can lead to poor root development and may cause the plants to shrivel up. 

Drip irrigation is also vulnerable to animal damage. When the drip is running, rodents and pests know where the water is. It’s like a small faucet to them and with their teeth they will try to make the faucet hole bigger and will eat the top out of a spray sprinkler.

While several parts of your system may require replacement throughout its life, you can expect the average sprinkler system to last for about 20 years. During this time, you will probably need to replace your sprinkler heads after around 10 years if using high-quality heads. Average range of drip irrigation installation costs anywhere between $500 to $3,000.

What Factors Should Be Considered Before Installing an Irrigation System?

There are mainly four irrigation system techniques. The factors to consider before installing any of the irrigation systems are: topography of your lawn or garden, type of soil, plant types and weather conditions. 

Lawns and gardens that are situated on slopes or hills are often an obstacle when choosing a drip irrigation system as it is possible for the water to run-off. Next, the exact composition of the soil in your lawn affects how it absorbs water and the runtime of your system. 

Also, sprinklers are not suitable in regions that are specifically windy, arid regions which have low humidity and places which are hot and sunny. This is because a lot of water will be wasted due to evaporation or strong winds. In such circumstances, the best method for irrigating a lawn is by using drip irrigation.

What Are The Materials Needed When Installing An Irrigation System?

The following materials are needed to install an Irrigation system:

  • Pipes: Pipes are tubes used in irrigation systems as a channel to convey water to the plants.
  • Pipe connector fittings: PP connector plastic pipe fittings (joints) are mainly ideal to use with PE (Polyethylene plastic pipes). Full range of all sizes, types, and kinds of these pipe fittings are available all over the world. These are used to secure pipe connections.
  • Flow control devices: It is a device installed in an irrigation system to ensure that the water reaches the desired destination, at the proper time, in the needed amount (the flow rate), and under the right pressure, is called a control appliance. It is used to control the proper operation of a fluid system.
  • Filters: These are used to filter water of any debris or dirt before supplying it to the plants. Adequate filtration can help to extend the life and improve the maintenance of an irrigation system. 
  • Fertigation equipment: With this equipment solid fertilizers soluble in water and liquid fertilizers can be introduced into the system. A tank having fertilizer solution is connected to the irrigation pipe at the supply point. With fertigation equipment the fertilizer solution is distributed evenly in irrigation. 
  • Water emitters: Water emitters are devices used to regulate the release of water from the pipes to the plants. They are often spaced more than 1 meter distant from each other with one or more emitters used for a single plant such as a tree. 
  • Automation equipment: Automation equipment is used for the operation of the system with zero or minimum of manual interference apart from the supervision. Practically  every system (sprinkler, drip, surface) can be automated with the help of sensors, timers, mechanical appliances or computers .
  • Operation equipment: Operation equipment in irrigation systems suggest a package of organizational, economic and technical arrangements that guarantee planned distribution and maximum use of water resources for heavy and good quality yield of agricultural crops.
  • Water-lifting devices: They are basically used for lifting water from unlined wells, ponds or streams for irrigating small fields.

Who Should Install An Irrigation System?

Are you constantly trying to attain the goal of a lush green lawn? Fed up with pulling out the hose and sprinkler? Live in an area that doesn’t receive much rain?  If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, an irrigation system is simply what you need. An irrigation system saves time, water and money together with other advantages. 

Is irrigation system installing expensive?

No, installing an irrigation system is not very expensive. It depends which type of irrigation system you have chosen to install. Price range of the sprinkler irrigation system is from $1,759 to $3,350, drip irrigation lies between $500 to $3,000, subsurface irrigation lies between $1,000 to $4,000 and surface irrigation lies between $8000 to $9000. 

Eden provides quality installation services of irrigation systems, along with designs that best suit your lawn or garden needs. Consider installing an irrigation system to save time, money as well as water. 

From selecting the right seasonal plants to installing an outdoor kitchen, our landscaping services can do it all for you. Contact us today for a stunning landscape!