Choosing Lawn Sprinkler Systems: Automatic Watering System

Learn About Lawn Sprinklers, Including Types, Zones and Heads

Law sprinkler system

A lush, green, perfectly manicured lawn is the ultimate goal of many homeowners. However, unless you are fortunate enough to live in an area which receives abundant rainfall each year (Seattle, anyone?), you'll probably need a little help with the "green" part. A lawn sprinkler system can ensure that your grass receives the proper amount of moisture throughout the year. The following information will teach you how to choose the one to fit your lawn watering needs.

  1. Type of sprinkler system. The first decision that you'll need to make when learning how to choose a lawn sprinkler system is what kindwill work best for your yard. The most basic type, of course, is to take your sprinkler out to the middle of your lawn, hook it up to a hose and turn on the water. This is not a type an automatic system, but is very low-cost - some can cost as little as $15, but it does require turning the water on and off manually and moving the sprinkler around the yard to guarantee that all areas receive moisture. It also wastes a large amount of water because it's not a very efficient system.

    If you want a more permanent automatic watering system solution, you'll need to think about choosing permanent, in-ground lawn sprinklers, and systems in which are all connected and zoned. There are two types of these - automatic and manual. Just as the name suggests, automatic lawn sprinkler systems are electronically controlled. They have a timer which can be programmed to turn off and on at certain times. Some can even detect when your lawn needs to be watered, and when the moisture levels are adequate. Manual sprinkler systems are controlled by you. Just as with a portable sprinkler, you'll need to turn the water on and off when your yard is dry. It does eliminate the tedious step of moving it around the yard, though. Manual systems are more reasonably-priced than automatic ones.

  2. Zones. The next decision to make is how to set up the zones. It would be impossible to water every part of your yard at once because the water pressure for such a large area would be nearly nonexistent. Instead, lawn sprinkler systems consist of a network of pipes buried horizontally under your grass. Then, short vertical pipes connect to sprinkler heads, which water your lawn. When activated, it delivers water to one area of pipes at a time. When you are determining the zone layout, you'll need to make sure that the spraying pattern of each sprinkler head overlaps the pattern of those adjacent to it. Otherwise, the areas nearest to the head will receive more water than those which are further away. It also helps to make sure that all areas receive at least some moisture, even if the wind is blowing in the opposite direction. Zones can be set up in either a square grid or a triangular grid. Triangular grids require more pipe to be laid, but also provide more thorough coverage.
  3. Sprinkler heads. The final decision to make concerns the sprinkler heads themselves. First of all, you'll need to decide if you want ones which are always at ground-level, or heads that pop up above ground level when they are actively delivering water. The advantage of pop-up heads is that the water has a better chance of clearing taller grass and landscaping. You'll also need to decide if you want mist-type sprinkler heads or rotary heads. Misting sprinkler heads deliver water evenly to a more precise area. They are frequently used on golf courses. Rotary heads deliver water to a larger area, so you can install fewer of them. Finally, determine what spraying pattern you need. Some spray in a full circular pattern, others in a half-circle or quarter-circle, and still others can be adjusted to spray anywhere in between.

Once you've decided on a lawn sprinkler system, you may choose to install it yourself or hire a landscaping professional. If you do it yourself, plan it very carefully before installation. It's difficult and expensive to make changes. Also, be certain to properly maintain your sprinkler system, especially in northern areas, where the in-ground temperature can dip below freezing for weeks at a time. Fixing a burst pipe when it's a couple of inches below ground in winter is not a fun chore!


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