Installing a sprinkler system is definitely a DIY project any homeowner can tackle.

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A great tutorial on how to DIY your own sprinkler system

Connecting to the house’s water supply was difficult. Installing the backflow prevention and the sprinkler valves was tricky. Now that those are finished (See part 1 of Installing Sprinklers), putting in the sprinkler system itself is much simpler. Not easy—it’s a lot of work. But simple. Dig the trenches, lay the pipes, attach the sprinkler heads, and test.

Plan the Landscaping and Sprinkler System

I mentioned in my post about putting in sprinkler valves that we started our sprinkler system by submitting our landscape plan to Rainbird. We mailed them a scaled drawing of our yard and landscaping as well as information about our water supply and water pressure. You can learn more about it on Raindbird’s website.

A few weeks after mailing in the information, Rainbird emailed us a design for our new sprinkler system with a shopping list of parts we needed to purchase. The best part is the plan was free. It even came with a discount coupon to help us buy the parts.

In the Trenches

We marked where the sprinkler pipes needed to go, then started digging. Normally, you would rent a trencher at this point and get all the trenches dug in just a few hours. We didn’t. Our ground is full of rocks, 6-inch and bigger river rocks. They are fondly called “La Mesa Potatoes” by the locals, and they are everywhere. We were afraid they might break the trencher. Plus, our lawn is not that big, only 12 by 20 feet.How to install a sprinkler system

So we dug the trenches with a pick-ax and a shovel. It took longer and was a lot of work, but, hey, it saved us a little money. To make it more fun, we took lots of pictures and made a time-lapse video of the progression.

Now watch it again and notice what my girls are doing. Crazy kids.

Laying the Pipes

Our lawn is going to be a rectangle, so it only needs three pipes, two on each side and one connecting them on the end. (Our last lawn was free-form shape that looked really cool, but was a pain to adjust the sprinkler spray correctly.)

We started by glueing a long PVC pipe to one of the sprinkler valves. Once it was in place, we cut the pipe where the first connection and sprinkler needed to go.How to install a sprinkler system

We put in a double tee fitting (plus-shaped), so that one pipe could continue straight, one could go down to the right, and the first sprinkler head could attach to the fourth opening.How to install a sprinkler system

Here it is, all glued and connected. There is an extra pipe going on top which is for the drip system in the back of the yard. More about that later when I post about our drip system.How to install a sprinkler system

The pipe that came out to the right goes down west side of the lawn.How to install a sprinkler system

We added a sprinkler in the middle and a sprinkler at the end of the side pipe.How to install a sprinkler system

Adjust the Sprinkler Heads and Test

The sprinklers need to be exactly the right height so that they don’t stick out of the ground too much and become a tripping hazard or too little and become filled with dirt and stop working. We connected our sprinkler with this 6-inch swing arm, which is essentially a lever that can raise or lower the sprinkler head Each sprinkler can be easily adjusted to just the right height. Pretty cool.adjustable sprinkler heads

When all 6 sprinkler heads were installed, we waited a few days for the glue to dry. First we removed the sprinkler heads and flushed the whole system, to get rid of any dirt in the pipes. Then we replaced the heads and tested the whole sprinkler system. Yes, it sprayed the dirt, but it’s important to check for any leaks in the pipes or sprinkler heads. Fortunately, there was nothing to go back and redo or repair.How to install a sprinkler system

Bury the Sprinkler System

When each sprinkler head was adjusted to the right height, we buried the whole thing. You can see the sprinkler head sticking out of the ground about an inch. When the sod is laid, this sprinkler head will come right to the bottom of the grass. The perfect height.DIY sprinklers

With the sprinkler system in place and leak-free, we can get start preparing for grass. A luscious, green lawn for my kids to play on is almost here! See how we put it in my next post.The sprinkler system is install and ready for grass


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