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How to Install an Irrigation System in 9 Easy Steps

Expert advice about irrigation installation from the job site. Not every job needs a pipe puller, but this is how these guys install irrigation.

Install an Irrigation System

is a great way to keep a lawn green through even the doggiest days of summer. Watch how to pull pipe, make solid connections faster and get it done safely. The result: a well designed irrigation system that sips water instead of guzzling it.

How to install a vacuum breaker/backflow preventer is not shown here. It is recommended that a licensed plumber is hired for those install steps to include connection from the manifold to the home water supply line.

1-Irrigation Installation:

A Good Plan Saves Water

Be sure to scale and map your yard. offers pre-packaged irrigation packages with a variety of options with sprinklers to match your landscape needs. To identify which sprinklers will work best, check out this site below:

2-Remove Sod First

Slice off the sod before you dig a hole so it can be put back into place. If you do it right, the yard should show very few signs of your labor—besides the greener grass, of course.

Grow greener grass and be the envy of the neighborhood!

3-Pull Pipes with a Vibratory Plow

Pulling polyethylene pipe through the ground is faster and easier than digging trenches, but sometimes we don`t have this option. Here are some things to consider when pulling pipes using a pipe pulling machine.

Avoid tree roots. (To get an idea of how far they extend from the trunk, consider that the root structure is often the same size as the canopy). Shoot for a depth of about 10 in. Feed the pipe into the hole as you pull. Avoid pulling pipes that are spliced (they could come apart underground). If you’re renting a plow, pull all the pipes right away and return the machine. This may allow you to rent for only a half day and save money. A vibratory plow may not work in super-compacted soil. You may need a trencher instead.

Caution: Always call utilities companies before you dig!

Hand-Dig Around Utilities. No matter how deep you think a utility pipe or wire is buried, always hand-dig over and around those areas.

Bore Under Obstructions. Some vibratory plows/trenchers are capable of horizontal boring as well. If you plan to rent a plow and have to dig under a sidewalk or driveway, you might as well rent the boring rods and the drill head at the same time.

4-Keep Pipes Clean

Dirt and other debris that get into the pipes will plug the heads. Keep all that out by covering the ends with duct tape. Besides dirt and rocks, these pros have found the occasional snake and frog clogging up the works … surprise! If you know you’ve kicked dirt down in the pipe, flush the line before installing that head.

Don’t Cut Pipes With a Saw: Cutting pipes with a saw can leave behind plastic shavings that could clog the sprinkler heads. An inexpensive poly pipe cutter works great. If you have the option, pick a bright-colored one that will be easier to spot in the grass.

Cut Out Kinks: A kink in poly pipe creates a weak spot. Don’t try to straighten the pipe. Instead, cut out the kink and splice two pipes together with a coupler. If you must pull a pipe that has been spliced, add a couple extra clamps to the fitting and hook up the longest of the spliced sections to the plow.

5-Double-Clamp Main Lines

You can secure pipes to fittings quickly and easily with crimp clamps, but sometimes they can ever so slightly squish the pipe into an oval shape, creating a less than- perfect connection. Main lines (the lines leading to the zone valves) are always pressurized, so install two crimp rings on each side of each fitting connection for extra protection against leaks.

6-Install Heads with Swing Pipe

We recommend you always use ``swing pipe,” often called “funny pipe,” between the end of the poly pipe and the sprinkler head. This is a flexible joint, you can easily position the head exactly where it needs to be, away from a fence, the house, decks or other outdoor sheds and such. Funny pipe also allows the head to move a bit in case it’s run over by a vehicle or pushed around by the frozen ground. When a head is connected directly to the rigid poly pipe, any movement could crack the fitting that connects them.

7-Install the Valve Box

Installing a valve box over the manifold is easy enough, but if the box needs to be cut to pull the pipe through then be sure to leave enough room. Most boxes just need to sit over top the manifold of valves to protect the solenoids, which are located at the top of the valve.

8-Rain Bird Controllers Save Water

Experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of irrigation water is wasted through over-watering. Traditional controllers for yard sprinkler systems turn each zone on and off for a predetermined amount of time. A rain gauge connected to a controller will monitor recent rainfall and shut down the system in the middle of or shortly after a rain event. The complete TM2 Rain Bird controller is WIFI compatible so you can operate your system anywhere, anytime. A well-planned watering schedule along with WIFI can save a couple hundred gallons of water per day!

9-Protect Wires From the Elements

The wire connections inside the valve box require connectors approved for direct burial. Basically tubes filled with dielectric grease. This will protect your wiring system from malfunctioning. At the start of each season be sure to check the connection to each valve and at the controller to ensure a secure connection.

An irrigation system can last for years and is a viable investment providing incredible ways to save on water consumption, watering bills, seeding, and re-sodding of your yard. Be sure to take extra care during spring start up and winter bed rest.

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