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Thinking about installing a sprinkler system

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by ALarsh, Jul 21, 2005.

  1. ALarsh

    ALarsh LawnSite Silver Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 2,412

    I have been thinking of installing a sprinkler system at my house. We have about 3/4 acre. I'm not 100% sure i'm going to do it yet but I wanted to research it first.

    What are some good websites to do some reading on installing an irrigation system?
    About how much money would it cost me in parts to water around 3/4 acre?
    About how much time would it take me (a beginner) to do it solo with a trencher?

    After some reading, would I be capable of doing this without any other irrigation experience?

  2. drmiller100

    drmiller100 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 562

    step one: Figure out how much water pressure and volume you have available.
    Step 2: design the system.

    Step 3: buy parts.
    Step 4: Implement.

    Steps one and two are pretty cheap, and have a HUGE impact on the rest of it. I bet I could do a 3/4 acre for 1000 bucks in parts, assuming 15 gpm, no sprays, and fairly open country.
  3. lqmustang

    lqmustang LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 620

    I've been thinking about installing a system at my house also. I've done a ton of reading here, and elsewhere on the net. I found what appeared to be a good site at http://www.irrigationtutorials.com/index.html. After doing all the reading, I went ahead and let rainbird design a system (why not, they do it for free). I just got the design back a couple days ago. I plan on making a few adjustments to their plan, then I'll be ready to cost it all out and maybe actually install the system. :)
  4. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 641

    Just to reassure you guys, I just finished my own system. It is just about 3/4 an acre with 8 zones/36 Hunter PGP rotor heads, a drip zone for a flowering ground cover bed, a zone of HP Rotators for a shrubbery/flower bed, and a remote garden hose connection that I will use for starting perennial beds at the far end of the yard. I was about 2 weeks from excavation to the last hand rake out. The actual system build took just about a week, and another to backfill, rake and reseed. I did my own design, because RainBird, Hunter and Toro all tell you in their stuff what they're going to do. Once you have the drawing of the yard done, the hardest design work is over. I followed the rules of head to head design and stayed very conservative on number of heads per zone based on my pressure and flow. The only consideration that I didn't look at first was that the precipitation rate of of fractional arc rotors is higher than full rotation rotors. Given the precip rate of a full rotation, you need to double it for 180 degree rotors and quadruple them for 90 degree rotors.

    While the predominant opinion on this forum is that you should hire a pro, you can build a professional system if you do a lot of research, read everything there is to find on the internet, do an accurate drawing of your yard, carefully and realistically measure your water pressure and flow, do some math and then sit down with a compass. If you don't have the patience for that and don't have a couple of weeks to devote nearly full time to the project, then follow the advise of others and hire an irrigation contractor.
  5. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,781

    I don't think implying that the pro's here are against DIY systems is true. I do believe that most people will not get a quality system on their own. Unfortunately, there is a lot of DIY info out there that will have you calling a professional to fix your system when your done. If you do the research to get a quality design and do the work to install a quality product, the that is what you will end up with. I can promise you that there are some "pro's" out there who are just as good for buisness as the average DIY system. My rule of thumb and goal on a new install is to spend less than 10 man hours per zone plus the tap/connection. That means more than an hour per head on average. Your example of 8 zones and almost 40 heads fits. You said a week for the sprinkler work plus cleanup to get ready for seed. something between 60-80 hours? In my market, I would have to bid that system at around $4,000. I would guess, depending on where you purchased them, the parts cost you around $1500, and you incurred $300-$500 in machine expenses. So, your 80 hours = $2000. That's $25/man hour. What is your spare/free time worth? If spending your annual vacation digging in a sprinkler system to save $2000 was a good deal, then you came out ahead. We make our living on the customers who would prefer to enjoy that vacation time and value their own personal time more. This is a luxury market.
  6. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Sean ought to make this sentence a sticky and post it in each forum for all to read before posting. excellent reply !!!!!
    If you can't sell it, you can't install it
  7. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 641

    Due to the nature of my "day job", I have a lot of time in the summer. This wasn't my annual vacation and I needed some more projects to justify the purchase of my new tractor and backhoe. :rolleyes:

    "...Value their own time more..." -- that sort of sounds like you value your time less. I am not trying to start an argument. I thought I gave a realistic explanation of what is necessary to do a system correctly, pointing out that you have to do your homework and devote a great deal of time to a project of this size. Your numbers are pretty much right on except my trencher was only 200. $4000? I could have hired you and paid your travel expenses from Kansas to Springfield and still saved several thousand over any quotes I got. Then when you started digging here, you would have immediately known that you underbid the job. To call it rocky is an understatement.

    Yes, owning a sprinkler system in the Midwest (or anywhere for that matter) is a luxury, not a necessity. Most of the people in the market for a system are not going to get out in triple digit weather and swing a pick and a post hole digger to cut 12 inch risers into ground that is as much rock as soil. But, don't try to imply that I am a penny-pinching miser because I choose to and enjoy it. You must, as well, or you would do something else for a living.
  8. jabbo

    jabbo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 215

    Not trying and but in, but I am also in the process of designing my own system and have already drew my yard to scale and have started drawing in the heads. I see that you used pgp's and that is what I'm mostly using except for a few pgj's for a small area. I was just curious to know what gpm and pressure you have and about how far you spaced your heads. I'm working with 13 gpm at about 50 psi at the connection. I'm on a well. I'm running full circles at 4 gpm, halfs at 2 and quarters at 1. Also would like to know what type of valves you used because I have some elevation change to deal with. Luckily it is all downhill. As far as I can tell I have 10 zones with about 50 heads total. Alot of those are half circles since I had to go around the house and up and down both sides of the drive. Then I have 2 zones of sprays in the beds around the house.
  9. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 641

    I used Hunter jar top PGV valves. My system is all downhill, as well, and I have some issues with the last heads in the lines creating swamps. I am going to replace the downhill PGP's with the check valve model. I'll let you know how that works. I have 20gpm at 55psi at the point of connection. I laid out my zones based on 15gpm at 40psi. I have them spaced between 36 and 40 feet apart and run a #7 nozzle in most of them. I have been tweaking the system by swapping tips and adjusting the run times and just about have it going the way I want.
  10. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,781

    I'm comming back to this because I think you took my comment the wrong way. I didn't mean to imply that you were trying to save money at all. My intent was to ask the simple question that in hind sight, was it worth it? Yes, this is what I do for a living. There are days and jobs that make me wish I had considered alternate choices, but what job out there doesn't have those moments. I pride myself on being extremely proficient at what I do. I hope, in your "day job" you feel the same way. I don't install systems for very many people that I wouldn't call "successful" in their chosen field. It is my experience, that when I need something done outside of my region of expertise, that I do what I recomend to my customers. Get a PRO. If the manual labor and improving your property was something you got personal satisfaction out of, then even if you ended up working for free, it might of been a good deal. I know of very few break-even or cheap hobbies. And unless I missed something in the quantity of materials you installed, or you had to rent a rock saw to finish, my $4,000 figure would have been good, except for the fact you are outside of my service area. Also, if could trench it, a good vibratory plow could have pulled it. Solid rock is another story, but plows pull through rocky ground better than trenchers do in the same soil.

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