It can be quite challenging to keep your lawn hydrated, especially if you use an old lawn sprinkler that you manage yourself, which is why you will benefit from installing an underground sprinkler system.
This is a job that you can do yourself as most of the underground sprinklers systems that are available are easy to install.
Once you have installed your own underground sprinkler system, you will be able to program it to water your lawn on a regular basis. You can also program the startup time and water duration so you can sit back and enjoy your perfectly hydrated garden!
Install Sprinkler Systems Underground: Full Guide
It is quite easy to install an underground sprinkler system yourself.
Installing your own underground sprinkler system can help you save a lot of money and will also end up saving you time as it has an automatic function.
Here is a guide on how you can install a sprinkler system underground.
Determine The Water Pressure
Before you can begin installing your own underground sprinkler system, you will need to test the water pressure of your outdoor faucet. This can be easily done using a simple pressure gauge, which is available at most garden center stores.
To determine the water pressure, you will need to use a five-gallon bucket to determine how much water the faucet produces within one minute.
You should then forward this information onto the sprinkler manufacturer you are using, as well as a scale drawing of your property, so they can find the best underground system for your home.
Once they have handled this information, you should receive a materials list and a system layout from the manufacturer. This is essential information that you will need to install your own underground sprinkler system.
Depending on the sprinkler manufacturer you are using, this information can be given for free, or it will have a small charge. Some companies will charge up to $50 for this information, but this is vital information to enable you to install your own sprinkler system, so this charge is worth it – and it is still cheaper than hiring someone else to do it for you.
The system layout you receive from the manufacturer will divide your lawn into sections and each will be controlled by a zone valve. The number of valves you will need will differ based on the size of your garden.
You can install your entire sprinkler system by hand, or you could use a pipe-pulling machine, which will make the process easier. These machines can be hired for around $150 or upwards per day.
The kind of materials that you will need for your underground sprinkler system will differ based on your location, the temperatures in your location, and the size of your garden.
Running The Pipes
The way that you will need to run the pipes through your garden will differ based on the method you choose. If you are installing your sprinkler system by hand, then you will need to dig the main runs first and then move onto the branch lines.
These lines should be quite deep in your lawn, at least six inches. However, installing them at around eight to ten inches will give you a better fitting room.
If you are using a pipe puller to install your sprinkler system, you will need to attach the pipe to the machine’s blade. If you are running the mainline feed, then it is recommended to wrap the low-voltage cable around the pipe so you can pull them both at the same time.
When the piping is securely connected to the machine’s blades, start the pipe-pulling machine so it will be moving forward and lower the blade into the ground.
Using this blade, you will need to bore into the rim joint of your home. This should make a hole that you can run the copper pipe and cable through and into the ground.
When you reach the underground level, you will need to convert the copper cable to a PVC one, which can be done through a threaded connector. Run this main PVC line and the cable along to the first zone-valve.
You will now need to assemble the zone-valve sets above ground and then cement them to the underground piping for a secure fitting.
Once the zone-valves have been cemented in place, you will now need to install a plastic, inline drain fitting onto the downstream side of each one. The cable wires will also need to be connected to these drain fittings.
To ensure that everything is linked, you will need to connect one pair of the valve lead wires to the white cable wire that serves all of the valves. The other lead of each zone valve should be connected to a different color-coded wire.
You will need to continue to make pipe connections in the same manner until you have reached the last zone-valve.
Install Valve Boxes
After all of the valves have been connected and wired, you will now need to install the valve boxes and backfill.
In order to install the valve boxes, the feed line will need to have a drain fitting at the lowest point. To do this, you should thread the brass drain fitting into the end of a PVC tee. This should be quite easy to do, as this end of the PVC tee will already be threaded.
When you install the tee, you will need to do so downwards at a 45-degree angle.
Once this has been completed, you should dig a small compression directly under the drain. Fill this compression with sand and gravel to keep it secure.
Pipe Pulling Machine
If you are using a pipe pulling machine, which will make this process easier to complete, you will need to start it pulling forward. Make sure to secure the blade into the grass.
The blade, once it has been secured into the grass, will then pull the pipe into the ground.
Assemble the Zone-valves Above Ground
You will now need to assemble the zone-valves above ground, so you can actually see what you are doing and have good control over this process.
Once they have been assembled, you will need to connect the valves to the underground pipes you have just installed. It is important to remember that each valve needs a drain in place.
After this process, you should now attach every one of the zone-valves’ lead wires to the common wire in the system. This common wire will be white, so it should be easy to recognize.
Make sure to connect the colored wires to all of the remaining leads.
Install Brass Valve
On each of the low spots of the feed line, you will need to install a brass valve. You can do this by threading the valve into the tee using Teflon tape.
You will also need to use a homemade sluice pipe to tunnel under any walkways and to remove other obstacles.
A pointed sluice nozzle can be purchased at most garden centers, so it should be easy to obtain and will need to be attached to one end of a PVC pipe. The other end of this pipe will need a hose connector.
Before you can sluice underground, you need to dig shallow trenches on opposing sides of the sidewalk or walkways in your garden.
Once the hose has been connected, turn the water on and push this homemade pipe forward and back underneath the sidewalk to create a hole.
Tunnel Under the Sidewalks and Walkways
You will need to use this homemade sluice pipe to tunnel under the sidewalks and walkways in your garden so you can clear any obstacles.
To secure the underground sprinkler system you have made, you will need barb fittings and hose clamps. If you cannot get your hands on hose clamps, you can also use stainless steel crimp rings, which are actually more durable and cheaper to obtain.
To ensure that everything is the right size and will connect the way you intend, you can snip pipes using a scissor-like pipe cutter.
When you use this kind of pipe cutter, it will be very easy to snip the pipe underground. This process should be quick and easy to do, leaving a clean edge on all of your pipes.
Once they have been cut, you can now slide the crimp ring or hose clamp onto each pipe so you can secure the barb fitting.
Secure Rings and Fittings
Once you have used the crimp rings and attached the barb fitting, you will need to secure them.
They can be crimped tight to ensure that they are secure using pliers. This will ensure that they will not become loose over time.
Make sure you draw the crimp heads together tightly. This will be easy to do if you are using crimp-ring pliers.
There are several different ways that you can connect the heads to the pipes, depending on what is easiest for you.
If you do not have any issues with draining, you can install the heads using a 90-degree ell that has a barb fitting on one end and a female fitting on the other. This is the easiest way to install the heads.
Swipe Pipe Work
You should use a 3/8-inch swing pipe to connect the ell to the sprinkler head.
This can be secured using Teflon tape, but it is not recommended for you to use crimp rings here. This is because it should have a snug fit that won’t require additional security.
When you start to fill in the holes, make sure to do so at around four-inches at a time and tap the soil using a rubber mallet.
Make sure everything is clicked into place and secure above ground.
You can connect the sprinkler head by either installing a threaded riser or a swing pipe at the top of the fitting.
You can choose from a variety of different sprinkler heads based on the needs of your garden.
It is important that you consult your local plumbing codes as they will dictate how you can tap into your household water system.
This can be easily done, but you need to make sure you are abiding by these rules.
Once your sprinkler system has been installed into your household water, you will be able to use it as you please. This includes setting timers and water duration based on the needs of your garden.