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How To: Design Sprinkler System

Posted on March 22nd, 2022

Design Sprinkler System. Creating a sprinkler design may sound simple enough. Once you get into the details like getting accurate gallons per minute (GPM), a basic understanding of water dynamics and physics is needed.

Your design should allow for overlaps to ensure that you cover the entire area of your lawn. Doing so will prevent dry spots and overrunning water. If all of these details sound too much, it would be best to call the experts.

If you have refined your DIY skills, you can put them to the test by trying the fundamental planning steps described below.

How to Design Sprinkler System Units

The following sprinkler design tips will help you understand how it all works. We’ll only cover the design process and not the actual construction of a sprinkler system.

Here are the steps on how to design sprinkler system units for your home’s yard:

  1. Measuring Your Lawn

Measure the width and length of your yard using a tape measure. It’s okay to round off the measurements but make sure to account for potential dry spots. Using graphing paper, draw your lawn to scale – you can estimate that one square on paper will be equivalent to 10 square feet. It’s up to you how you want to scale your measurements.

Make sure to include the lawn items found in your yard. These elements would consist of trees, bushes, fences and other essential things that will affect how well the sprinklers work.

  1. Sizing Up Your Water Supply

There are two essential factors to consider with the water supply – the water pressure and water flow. With insufficient flow and pressure, your sprinkler system will fail and have dry spots and patches of ground with too much water. Therefore, you must first determine the level of water pressure in your sprinkler system.

Here’s how you measure water pressure:

  • Turn off the water inside your home.
  • Use a gauge and attach it to your home’s outdoor spigot
  • Turn on the water for the spigot and set it to full blast.

The gauge will tell you your home’s water pressure output. Next, there are two ways to measure the flow rate in your pipes. The first method is by using a one-gallon bucket. Set a timer, place the bucket near the outdoor spigot, turn the water on at full blast and measure how much time it takes to fill the bucket. This process will tell you the flow rate per minute.

If you want to use a more scientific method to measure the flow rate, here’s one of our essential sprinkler design tips. First, call your city or town water supplier and ask for the water velocity in your neighborhood. Next, find the main water supply going into your property. Measure its circumference. 

After that, compute the pipe diameter by dividing the circumference by pi (3.1416). And finally, enter all those numbers into this flow rate calculator. That should give you an accurate flow rate for your home.

  1. Design Hydrozones Throughout Your Property

Next in our sprinkler design tips deals with hydrozones. First, divide the area of your yard or lawn into different sections. Different sprinklers will water each section. The goal is to prevent over and under watering the plants in each area. Each area in your design is called a hydrozone.

You need to identify four variables in each of the hydrozones in your sprinkler system. They include the following:

  • The size of the hydrozone and its shape: some hydrozones will be larger than others. Some will need more water too. This step will help you pick the type of sprinkler and the amount of water output required for every particular hydrozone.
  • Soil type: if there is only one type of soil in your yard, you won’t have to worry about this part. However, if you use different soil types in your yard, indicate which one is in a particular hydrozone. The most common types of soil are sandy, loam and clay. Each soil type will hold water differently.
  • Exposure to sunlight: some hydrozones will be in shady areas while others will have more sun exposure. Take note of how much sun exposure each hydrozone will offer. In some instances, you’ll have more plants in some areas than others, depending on the sunlight available.
  • Plant types: some plants will need more water than others. Some of the plants located in the sunnier areas of your yard will need more water – except, of course, if you’re growing cacti in that area. Take note of the water needs of the plants in each hydrozone.

You can label each hydrozone on the graphing paper depending on how much water each area needs. Some will require routine irrigation, while others will need reduced irrigation. Some hydrozones will need little to no irrigation at all. All of this information will come in handy when you determine the watering capacity of your sprinkler system.

  1. Choose the Type of Equipment and Sprinkler Heads

Make a shopping list of sprinkler heads and equipment for your system. Look up different brands online and compare. If you don’t have a water meter, you need to purchase a new one. In addition, you’ll need a flow sensor, a master valve, backflow preventer, filter, mainline irrigation pipe, emergency shut-off valves, appropriate zone valves for each hydrozone and sprinkler head.

There are different sprinkler heads to choose from depending on the size and water requirements of each hydrozone you have identified earlier. 

They include the following:

  • Rotor heads: best-suited for large spaces with plenty of watering needs.
  • Fixed spray heads: these heads are best suited for smaller areas.
  • Spray head with rotary nozzle: it’s a combination of spray and rotor heads, which are more versatile.
  • Bubblers and specialty pattern sprayers: these sprinkler heads are designed for particular uses like watering lawn end strips and the sides of your yard, which can be tricky to reach.
  1. Create a Sprinkler Head Layout

As you figure out how many of each type of sprinkler head to use, you should also determine the equipment cost for your sprinkler system. After that, create a layout for the sprinkler heads. Each sprinkler will have its spray radius. Make sure to create an overlap of each radius to prevent dry spots. Each sprinkler should have radius adjustments – make sure to check this feature before buying one.

  1. Design Valve Zones

Finally, group all the sprinkler heads into different clusters to install a control valve for an entire group. Then, attach the valves to an irrigation controller. Designing your sprinkler system this way allows for better water flow control. Include where each of the pipes and fittings is found in your design.

Designing Sprinkler System with Seasoned Experts

We understand that sprinkler design can be a complex process. Our lawn experts at Turf Unlimited are ready to help you if you need assistance. We know how to design sprinkler system units that efficiently cover every inch of your yard without wasting water. Contact us today for a consultation.

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