Lawn Irrigation: The Fast Track to Healthy Grass

By HomeAdvisor

Updated October 20, 2016

Irrigated lawn

No matter what kind of house you live in, a green, healthy lawn is always the perfect compliment. When it comes to curb appeal, your grass, plants, trees, and shrubs are more than half the battle. Pulling the hose out every time you need to water is a hassle that many homeowners would rather do without, especially after a long work day; lawn irrigation systems are just the thing to keep your front yard flora blooming and green without putting an unnecessary dent in your free time!

Lawn Irrigation Systems: Sprays, Rotors, and Drips

The most common type of lawn irrigation system is, of course, the sprinkler. Depending on the slope of your lawn, the type of plants in your yard, and your local climate, a series of sprinklers may truly be the only lawn irrigation equipment you need. Often set on a timer (to provide the correct amount of water at the best time of day), sprinkler systems are a convenient and effective way to water, but you must be sure to get the right kind of sprinkler heads.

  • Spray Sprinkler Systems A “spray” sprinkler is good for lawns that are relatively flat. They are stationary (though, some “pop up” out of the ground) and release a large amount of water directly around the area of the sprinkler head. Spray sprinkler systems are not ideal for sloped lawns because the large amounts of water don’t have time to be absorbed into the soil before sliding down a hillside. This results in less than adequate lawn irrigation at the top of the slope, and too much at the slope’s bottom.
  • Rotor Sprinkler Systems A “rotor” sprinkler shoots smaller amounts of water from a swiveling head. They are preferred for land that is not flat (easily illustrated by their extensive use on golf courses). Rotor sprinkler systems are designed so that water doesn’t build up in any one place, no matter its grade.
  • Drip Irrigation Systems Drip irrigation is well suited for flowerbeds and the like. Basically, a drip irrigation system is a long, perforated hose that allows water to escape in small quantities at specified points. The hose can be put on or in the ground to directly target a plant’s roots. Individual plants can be matched with where the holes are, making nearly every drop of water effective. Because little to no water is wasted, a drip system promotes water conservation and costs less than a sprinkler when used to irrigate individual plants. However, they are not the best lawn irrigation systems, as they are far less effective in large spaces than sprinklers.

Lawn Irrigation System Repair and Installation

In most cases, lawn irrigation systems are not good do-it-yourself projects. There are many factors that go into the installation of these systems; not only are factors like water pressure (and its reduction over distances) and property grading taken into account, you also need to have a good knowledge of flora, climate, and sprinkler zoning to do the job right. With many DIY lawn irrigation systems, repairs are often called for even before the project is completed! Though it is possible for individual homeowners to dig the holes, lay the pipes, install the heads, and do all the research necessary for successful operation, lawn irrigation system installation is one job that most (wisely) leave up to the pros!

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While it is too difficult and time consuming for most homeowners to install their own lawn irrigation system, repair is something that many have tackled successfully. There are many things that can cause sprinklers to malfunction or perform poorly, but in many cases, lawn irrigation system repair is a matter of freeing obstructed sprinkler heads or replacing heads that are broken. While less frequent (and often caused by improper installation), more complex problems can occur with a lawn irrigation system; repairs that concern fluctuating water pressure, broken pipes, or soil erosion should, of course, be handled by a professional.

Lawn Irrigation System Costs

When it comes to installing a lawn irrigation system, costs are so highly dependent on so many different variables that it is near impossible to say what the installation will cost without first examining the space. Beware companies who are eager to give you an estimate without first checking out your lawn! Irrigation system costs are rarely prohibitive for the average budget, however, and when you consider the amount of time you’ll save each week, the increase you’ll see in your lawn’s appearance and health, and the fact that these systems can actually reduce your watering costs when planned properly, it’s easy to see why so many homeowners consider them worth the investment.

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