About lawn sprinkler sytem

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investor4life
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Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:45 am

About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by investor4life »

I'm planning to have an automatic lawn sprinkler system installed this Spring/Summer. What are some of the brands to consider and to avoid, for sprinkler heads, valves, master controller etc.? (I assume mix-and-match is not a good idea?)

Also, what's a ballpark for cost if in the Midwest? My yard is 0.33 acres, nearly rectangular, and I'm thinking 8 zones.

I'd also appreciate info. on things that I should watch out for and ask about as I go start to get bids.

Thanks much, as always.
RDB
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Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:44 am

Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by RDB »

It has been a few years. I forget exactly what we paid, but I think between $2500-3000 for a little bit smaller yard (5 zones). We have a Rain-Bird system and it has been good, no issues. It does not seem like the rain sensor works well, or ever has, but the only reason I got it was because it is required, so I have not bothered to investigate. I often just manually start the system when I want to water, takes two seconds rather than leaving it on the auto/custom mode. The other bid was for a Hunter system and it was about the same price, we chose the company our builder uses for warranty and follow up reasons.
IADFlyer
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Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:54 pm

Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by IADFlyer »

We've got a Rain-Bird system with 3 zones here in No. Virginia. Half acre, but only water the front and sides therefore only needed 3 zones. $1800.
Teague
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by Teague »

This subject is a little like investing: once you know enough to ask the right questions you might just decide to do it yourself. The link below is for DIY (and professionals) and is full of good information. 15 years ago I used it to design and install 2 large yards and other irrigation, and it all worked out very well.

https://www.irrigationtutorials.com/

Edit- about the least important thing to worry about at this stage is the type or brand of sprinklers, controller, etc. You need to make sure your system is properly designed, otherwise you will have untold years of frustration, misery, plague, pestilence, etc. There are many companies that do a good job of design. Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of the other kind as well. Educate yourself first, and good luck.
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Loik098
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by Loik098 »

I don't have a quote for pricing for you, as I did my own system. But here are a few tips if you have one installed for you:

1) Find a reputable sprinkler supply company in your town, and ask what brand of valves and controller they recommend. The last thing you'll want to do is replace a valve two years from now, or try to find someone reputable to do it for you. The valves at HD/Lowes by the big brands are famous for failing.
Irritrol have worked well for me.
2) If possible, install your sprinkler control box in your garage. You may find you'll want to manually control things now and then from the comfort of your pajamas.
3) Make sure your installer runs 1/2" hose to every location you think you might a water supply later (planter box, landscaping, etc). It's easy to do, and will save you time later if you decide you want to use them for drip lines or other purpose.
4) As for sprinkler heads and drip equipment, big box stuff is fine to start with. You'll develop a preference later on if you really get into it.
5) If you are running drip lines to trees/bushes/flowers, make sure your installer tells you what type of emitters are on each (i.e. how many gph), or learn how to identify them yourself. This will help you later if you want to adjust how much water each is getting.
6) Resist the temptation to overwater once it's installed. For grass, lay out a few empty tuna cans in the grass and run your system for 10 minutes. Do the math, and adjust the amount of time it runs so that your grass gets about 1" of water (a full tuna can) per week during normal weather, more for hot weather. Grass also loves deep, infrequent watering, so twice a week is good.
Last edited by Loik098 on Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Teague
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by Teague »

Loik098 wrote: 4) As for sprinkler heads and drip equipment, big box stuff is fine to start with. You'll develop a preference later on if you really get into it.
Agreed. Just to note, there is one component where one is kind of locked in to their original choice. As you note, good valves are important.
Residential sprinkler valves are attached to a manifold, a conglomeration of pipes that connect the water supply to the valves, then out to the sprinklers. The on-center distance varies with the brand, so if you decide to change valves, that usually means a fair amount of work digging up and replacing the manifold.
Last edited by Teague on Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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AnimalCrackers
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by AnimalCrackers »

We have a mix-and-match system, and it works really well: a Weathermatic SL1600 smart controller with an extra module for more zones, wired Weathermatic weather station (temperature and moisture sensor), Irritrol valves, 6-inch Rainbird spray bodies with MP Rotator spray heads.

I can't say enough about the value of a smart controller and the MP rotator spray heads (now owned by Hunter). They make the system super efficient, as confirmed by an outdoor water use audit provided through my county a few years ago.
"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face." -- philosopher Mike Tyson
bluebolt
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by bluebolt »

I had an existing system in the home I moved into and installed a RainMachine controller.
I love that it automatically adjusts watering based on local weather forecasts (temperature & precipitation).
I also love that I can control it from my phone - it's great for when I'm in the yard and want to run a particular zone. It also allows me to keep track of things when I'm away from home. I picked up an 8 zone system for $160. It took about 10 minutes to install.
open_circuit
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by open_circuit »

There are sprinkler controllers that have Ethernet (Wired and/or wireless) interfaces that you can control from your computer/smartphone/refrigerator/etc now available. I'm interested in avoiding reliance on company to provide access, so I'm replacing the (perfectly functional) controller at my new house with an opensprinkler controller. If you are less interested in DIY, look at Rachio or similar for computer-controlled sprinkler controllers.

I'm going this way for automatic watering level adjustment based on network weather data, instead of a rain sensor. I used to have a system with a radio weather receiver (required for drought exemptions in when my house was built), but I can't say it ever worked, and it was basically impossible to troubleshoot what the problem was due to being a cheap consumer (proprietary/locked down) product.
Texanbybirth
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by Texanbybirth »

Nice, thank you for sharing this website.
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Teague
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by Teague »

Texanbybirth wrote:
Nice, thank you for sharing this website.
You're very welcome. I consider it one of the true gems of the Internet.
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Gadget
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by Gadget »

I have all rainbird nozzles and equipment, but recently replaced my rainbird controller with a Rachio gen 2 smart sprinkler controller. I really like it. Super easy to install over an old controller. I can control lawn watering from my phone and it automatically turns off if rain is predicted or occurring. With phone notification to tell me if it starts or skips watering. And I can setup complex watering schedules that avoid the part of my yard the dogs are in during the day to other hours. It also can water large zones in short repeating cycles to avoid runoff.
obgraham
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by obgraham »

Been living in areas where everyone uses UG sprinklers for 40 years. I don't think the brand of components is as important as the design and the installer. Where I live, every landscaper is a sprinkler installer, and can work with all sorts of system, mix/match or not.
However, I have relatives in the Midwest who put in a system, and I think it is harder to find a good installer there. I advise looking for a high volume sprinkler installer, and one who is responsive to come out when a repair is needed. After a while you will probably realize that you can do most repairs yourself. For that reason it is nice to use components that are widely available. (For instance it is a whole lot easier to replace just the innards of a Rainbird sprinkler than digging out the whole thing.) In my area we use irrigation water, not city water, and it is not very clean, so heads and emitters fail every year -- that's just the way it is.

Finally, make sure that the installer designs an easy to use way to winterize the system. If it is hilly you might get away with a gravity drainage, but otherwise it's nice to have an easy to locate access point for a compressor.
Bacchus01
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by Bacchus01 »

investor4life wrote:I'm planning to have an automatic lawn sprinkler system installed this Spring/Summer. What are some of the brands to consider and to avoid, for sprinkler heads, valves, master controller etc.? (I assume mix-and-match is not a good idea?)

Also, what's a ballpark for cost if in the Midwest? My yard is 0.33 acres, nearly rectangular, and I'm thinking 8 zones.

I'd also appreciate info. on things that I should watch out for and ask about as I go start to get bids.

Thanks much, as always.
Do it in the fall. You'll save 25% or more.
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htdrag11
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by htdrag11 »

Not so much advice on lawn sprinkler system, but If you mow your own lawn, you would minimize head damages. Replacing heads are quite straight forward even for klutz like me.

For 1/3 acre, sure you could not do it manually with timer? 8 zones seem to be very liberal. I've an acre on 10 zones.

How is your neighborhood? Do you need to keep up with the Joneses? Is it feasible to plant or replant with grasses for low-maintenance drought-resistant?

One lesson learned: do not lay near young trees. After 10 years, the root systems had broken several of our connecting pipes.

FYI, I came from a town home and found watering the lawn is such a waste of money and natural resources.

GL
Mike83
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by Mike83 »

I suggest checking out the Rachio controller. It is, alas, internet connected. It coordinates watering with actual and predicted rain from the nearest hyper-local weather station. It also makes seasonal adjustments on its own based on weather patterns in your locale. Takes into account shade, sun, hedges, grass, slope, sprinkler head type etc. Has a simple smartphone app that really works nicely, or use web browser. Replaces any existing timer and save on water bill if you pay for water. Many weed types thrive from over-watering and this takes the guesswork out of it. Under $200 for an eight zone controller.
Mudpuppy
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Re: About lawn sprinkler sytem

Post by Mudpuppy »

As others have noted, the design is more important than the implementation. You should design zones to have the same type of heads (e.g. all drip emitters or all pop-up heads or all rotors), sufficient flow to feed all of the heads when on, well thought out placement of the heads and valves, and so on. A poor design will cause nothing but headaches.
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