Top 9 Tips To DIY Your Sprinkler System

If you are like me, you like to DIY some things around your house so you don’t have to pay someone else to do it.

So before you start installing the sprinkler system, make sure to follow these tips.

The tips include mapping out how you want the sprinkler to be set up, calling someone to mark any power lines or piping, checking your water pressure, checking with your city to purchase any necessary permits, figuring out how you are going to dig the trenches, determining where the water source is going to come from, determining how many valves you need, figuring out how much piping you need, and figuring out what type of sprinklers you want to use.

Read on to figure out why all these tips are necessary.

Map out how you want the sprinkler to be set up

Of course, the first step you’ll need to take to DIY your sprinkler system is to map it out.

No one sprinkler system is going to be setup the same as another.

This is because everyone’s yard is a different shape than everyone else.

In our town, everyone has different acreage, so it would be hard for one person to go off of another person’s plan.

Plus, this would allow you to set up the sprinkler system just the way you would want it to go.

So first, you’ll have to have an idea of what your land looks like.

If you don’t know the property lines, then you might have to call a surveyor to come out and mark it for you (especially do this to make sure your neighbors are happy).

Make sure to ask the surveyor what they charge because they are more than likely going to charge you to come out and mark the property lines.

If there is fencing already up, then you probably won’t have to worry about a surveyor, just stay within your side of the fence.

Once you know the property lines, then you should be able to walk off your yard so you have an accurate measurement.

Grab someone from your house and ask them to help you.

Then get the longest measuring tape you have.

After that, stand in a corner and have the other person extend out the measuring tape until it has gone as far as they can.

If they get to the end of the yard before the measuring tape has run out, then good, write down the measurement and then continue along another end of the yard.

If you still have some distance to go, ask your friend to stand at the end of the measuring tape, and then you extend the measuring tape out from where they are, continuing along the same end of the yard.

Continue this until you get to the end.

Once at the end of the yard, go along the next line of the yard.

Do this until you’ve gotten all 4 lines of the yard.

Then you have all the measurements you need to make your yard.

From here, draw out the yard on a piece of paper, with the measurements.

Next, you can do one of two things:

  • Send your diagram of your yard to a sprinkler manufacturer

Some sprinkler manufacturers will actually create a layout for you for your sprinklers and a list of what you will need.

They do this so you will purchase their products while doing your DIY project.

This is probably the simplest of options, but I cannot guarantee 100% that the manufacturer will send you back plans.

But it is at least worth a try if they would do it for free.

  • Write out the plans by yourself

Writing it by yourself might not be the best option if you don’t know what you are doing.

But it should be pretty easy to do a few Google searches and find out the best way to diagram your backyard.

You’ll also need to know a little bit about how pipes work.

Other than that, it should be pretty easy for you to do.

Either option you choose, you should be ready to go.

Call someone to mark any power lines or piping

Depending on where you live, different lines are buried at different depths.

Digging for sprinklers doesn’t need to be that deep, but you should still have someone come out to mark the lines.

Even if you are only going down a few inches, you should still call.

Who comes out to mark the lines depends on where you reside.

Some places will bring one person out to mark the power and water lines.

But other areas are going to make you send a request to the company that owns the lines.

The local water company, in this case, would have to come out and mark the water lines, while your power company would mark the power lines.

So you’ll need to find out who to contact.

Again, the best way to accomplish this is to do a Google search to find out what the requirements are.

A second option is to call your local city government and ask them who should be contacted.

They probably have a good idea or may even have the phone numbers you need to call.

And their marking of the lines is probably going to be free.

You see, they want to make sure you aren’t breaking the buried lines, so they will offer this service for free.

Once someone comes out and marks the lines, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t digging within 2 feet of the markers, just to be safe.

Check your water pressure

It is important to make sure you get enough water pressure for your sprinklers.

According to

When pressure is not adjusted properly, your system isn’t going to operate the way it was designed. Pressure that’s too high can result in sprinklers that produce a mist or fog, resulting in water waste and higher operating costs. High pressure can also increase the wear and tear on your system. Some systems can be fitted with special valves that keep the pressure at an ideal level. 

Low pressures mean your sprinkler will not be able irrigate the area it’s intended to cover, resulting in dead patches of lawn or garden. For low-pressure lines, boost pumps can often be installed to help increase the pressure to your sprinkler heads.

So making sure you have the right water pressure is important to make sure your sprinklers are running appropriately.

Your water pressure should be between 30 – 35 psi and 10 – 13 gallons per minute of water flow through the sprinkler system.

There are two options here: either purchase a water pressure gauge (like the one here) or hire a professional plumber to come out and check the pressure.

Since water pressure gauges are pretty cheap, your cheapest option is purchasing the gauge online.

A professional is probably going to charge you much more than the gauge.

Next, to check the gallons per minute, fill up a gallon bucket from the water pipe that will support your sprinklers and count how long it takes to fill up.

Once you have the time it took, then divide 60 by that number.

For example, if it took 5 seconds to fill up the gallon bucket, then it would be 60 / 5, or 12 gallons per minute.

At this point, you should have all the information you need to know if your water spout can support sprinklers.

If you don’t have enough pressure, you might need to call out a professional to review your water pressure.

Check with your city to purchase any necessary permits

Your city is going to be most worried about where you are digging and making sure you aren’t digging where there are lines buried.

Check with your city to see if you need to purchase any permits.

The last thing you want is to upset someone in your city or accidentally dig up lines and then have a mess of problems to fix.

You also might end up getting fined if you don’t contact the city.

So make sure to contact them and purchase any necessary permits.

Figure out how you are going to dig the trenches

There are a few options for digging the trenches.

Depending on the kind of soil you have in your yard, this may or may not be a good option.

If you have very compacted soil, then the pickaxe would be good for breaking up the soil.

Then you would use a shovel to move the soil out of the ground.

This might make for a lot of work if your yard is large (like our 3/4 acre yard), but you could get a good workout and exercise.

  • Using a gas-powered trenching machine

This would be the easiest option for digging your trenches if you have the resources for it.

And it would do the job rather faster for you.

This might have a problem if you have a very rocky yard, so have a pickaxe and shovel handy in case you run into a few rocks.

Determine where the water source is going to come from

Make sure you have an idea where the water is coming from.

Once we purchased a house that we thought had water rights for our yard.

When the first spring season came along, we found out that we didn’t actually have water rights.

So for a few weeks, we were out of luck, until we talked to a neighbor and found out where the water was coming from.

Once we knew there was water, we had to figure out how to get the water out where we needed it.

So in this case, we couldn’t have done anything for sprinklers if we didn’t know where the water is coming from.

So make sure you know you have water and if so, make sure to know where it is coming from.

Determine how many valves you need

You can call them valves or zones.

They both mean the same thing.

Depending on the size of your yard and how much water pressure you have, this will help to determine how many zones you should have.

First, figure out how many gallons per minute your water source gives.

Then determine how many gallons per minute your sprinklers need.

And then divide the gallons per minute from the water source by the gallons per minute from the sprinklers.

This will tell you how many sprinklers you can put in one zone.

For example, if your water source gives 15 gallons per minute and your sprinklers need 3 gallons per minute, then you can place 5 sprinklers in one zone.

Then, figure out how many sprinklers you need to determine the number of zones.

Figure out how much piping you need

It should pretty easy to determine the piping you need.

You first need to have the diagram of your yard and where you have sprinklers/hoses going.

Then you should be able to calculate how much piping you will need.

For example, if your yard is 50 feet by 50 feet and you have 3 zones for sprinklers, you’ll start out by needing at least 150 feet of piping.

Then, you will need piping from the water source to where the zone starts.

For example, if you have a zone that starts 50 feet from the water source and another 25 feet, then you need an additional 225 feet of piping.

This doesn’t include any fittings you will need, but you know you need at least 225 feet.

Figure out what type of sprinklers you want to use

There are all different types of sprinkler heads.

They include:

  • Pop up – this sprinkler head starts off underground and then when the sprinkler receives water pressure, they will “pop up” out of the ground. This is nice because is hides the sprinkler away until it is used. If you have kids, then might be the best option because they are pretty well protected, unless you kids jump straight on them.
  • Raised – these sprinkler heads are always raised above ground. These are mostly used for garden areas, but can be used in the regular part of your yard. Just be aware that someone walking around could run into it and break it.

There are also different types of spraying options:

  • Fixed – these sprinklers will come out of the ground and stay in the same spot, the sprinkler won’t move at all. These are good for smaller yard, since they don’t need to cover a large area of yard.
  • Rotating: impact – these sprinklers will rotate. This makes it so they can cover a large area of yard and do it in a consistent manner.
  • Rotating: gear driven – these sprinklers will rotate. All of the gears of the sprinklers are made of plastic and are incased in a plastic case, keeping them safe when they are under ground.
  • Rotating: large turf – these sprinklers are good for golf courses. You’ll need a lot of water pressure and it will cover quite a bit of space.
  • Misting – mostly used for gardens, since they cover only a little area. Can rotate, but don’t necessarily do.


Installing your own sprinkler system, while it may seem like a pretty intense job, can actually be done pretty easily.

Just make sure to have a good plan before you start and make sure you purchase all the items that you need.

Then make sure you have a plan to dig the trenches and then let the work begin.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

Recent Content