Guide to Sprinkler Systems
Underground sprinkler systems have taken the work out lawn and garden irrigation
By Don Masters
Gone are the days of dragging hoses around or hiring a neighbor to do it for you. Installing an underground irrigation system is laborious, as you will need to dig some trenches 6- to 8-inches deep; however you can rent a trencher to help with this home improvement project. Armed with a strong back and a basic understanding of hydraulics and plumbing products, you can complete this task.
- What You Need to Know
- Along with hydraulics, plumbing and digging trenches, you'll need to know how to use a few tools. Many of them are self explanatory, and the ones that aren't can be easily explained at a hardware store. They include a water pressure gauge, trenching shovel, irrigation flags, power trencher, PVC pipe and fittings, and irrigation sprinklers, control valves and a control clock.
- There are limits to how many sprinklers can be on each valve or zone. Take the time to learn these requirements prior to laying out your system.
Locate your water and power supplies. This will determine the location of your irrigation valves and the electronic timer. Check the available water pressure on a faucet located close to the installation location of your valves.
Determine what you will be watering. Since grass and shrubs usually have different water requirements, plan on a separate valve (zone) for each of these locations.
Visit the local home supply store. Inspect the different irrigation products they have available and ask for someone to explain the differences between them. Knowing how each sprinkler works helps tremendously when you are laying out your system. Some stores will actually help you lay out your system and draw a schematic for you to use if you provide them with a sketch of your yard and your water pressure.
If your landscape is already installed, it's easy to see what needs water. If the installation is not complete, use marking paint to draw a line on the ground, indicating where your grass and shrubs will be located. Use irrigation flags to indicate where you will install each sprinkler.
Dig the trenches. Remember plumbing fittings come in 90 and 45 degrees, so the ditches need to be dug at these angles.
Lay out all of the pipe and fittings for your system beside the trenches. Refer back to the schematic and glue one zone together at a time. This helps to keep the zones from getting crossed unintentionally.
Turn on the water to flush out the new piping, and then install the sprinkler heads. If after inspection you find no leaks, back fill your ditches and connect the control wires to the valves.
The irrigation control clock is usually the last item in the system installed. Once this is complete, set the time on the clock and run through each valve zone individually to make sure it is functioning properly.
About the Author
Donald Masters is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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