What brand should I use?
A lot of companies sell their systems as "Toro Systems", or "Hunter Systems". While this works for them I've found that by combining different brands you can make a superior system. Not everything Hunter makes is perfect, the same goes for any brand.
My general recommendations for brand is something like this. Remember this is not set in stone, but just my personal preference for a typical residential install:
Do not use parts from Home Depot or Lowes, even if they are made by commercial companies. Most companies (K-rain and Rainbird etc) have two lines, and their cheap line goes to the home hardware stores. These are garbage. The same goes for anything that Orbit makes.
- Timer: Rainbird ESP-M or Hunter PRO-C
Both are excellent timers. They have similar features and reliability, I have found the ESP is easier to teach people to use, so I install that, but again, both are good timers.
- Lawn Rotors: Hunter PGP or I-20
The hunter PGP has been the industry standard for 25+ years. Its a reliable gear driven rotor that works well in almost any situation. The I-20 add's a stainless riser shaft, more nozzle options, and a shutoff valve in the head.
- Spray/Mist Heads: Rainbird 1800 series
This one is a no brainer to me, Rainbird has cornered the market with their superior wiper seal. They are the best spray heads on the market.
- Valves: Rainbird DVF-100, Hunter SRC. Irritrol 2400
All three valves listed here are good valves, I personally have had best luck with the DVF-100, but you won't go wrong with any of them. I've found that the Irritrol 2400 does not like sandy water, so perhaps consider the DVF-100 with its screened solenoid as extra protection.
I also advocate using valves with flow control. I think the extra flexibility added by this feature offsets the extra buck it costs.
Remember, if you want to be a professional, use professional parts.
Well, thats all for the time being, perhaps I'll write something on which pipe to use, but that will probably start a 20 page debate thread