How to Install an In-Ground Sprinkler

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Scale ruler
  • Compass
  • Water pressure gauge
    with hose bib adapter
  • Tape measure
  • File
  • Straight-edge spade
  • Trencher or pipe puller
    (rental equipment)
  • Knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Hacksaw or plastic
    pipe cutter (for PVC)
  • Plastic tubing cutter
    (for PB)
  • Pipe wrench
Materials Required
  • Watering system
  • PVC or PB pipe
  • String
  • Wood stakes
  • Back flow preventer
  • Hose/pipe adapter
  • Garden hose
  • Primer and cement
    (for PVC pipe)
  • Connectors
    (for PB tubing)
  • Teflon tape
  • Stainless steel
    hose clamps

Before You Begin

The instruction below describe the steps to make the installation. To find a contractor who has the skills and tools to do it right, click Home Advisor and find contractors in your area to do the job.

  • Step 1 : Make a plan

    Use graph paper or a scale ruler to prepare an accurate scaled drawing of your property. Include buildings, patios, walks and driveways, fences and other obstacles. Designate lawn, garden, shrubs and additional types of plantings. Indicate the location of water lines, water meter and outdoor spigots and where you want to locate the control valves. To accurately determine the pressure and flow capabilities of your water source do some investigating. Use a pressure gauge to test the water pressure at your outdoor spigots. Look at the size of your water meter and outside diameter of your water service line and hose bib piping. With this information, use the manufacturer's guidelines to determine the appropriate components for the yard's in-ground system.

    Depending on the system selected, you may be working with rigid PVC pipe, which is joined with fittings that are solvent-welded together. Other systems use flexible poly pipe, which is joined together with barbed fitting and hose clamps. Either piping method is easy to work with and requires only hand tools.

  • Step 2 : Lay out system

    Lay out the in-ground system

    Lay out the system using stakes at sprinkler head locations and string to represent the piping between them. Cut PVC pipe to length with a hacksaw or plastic pipe cutter and temporarily assemble parts without cement according to the layout.

  • Step 3 : Dig trenches

    Dig trenches for in-ground system Dig trenches

    Disassemble the parts and move the piping aside to dig trenches 6-10 inches deep. You can dig by hand with a square-edge spade, with a rented trenching machine (if soil is relatively rock and root-free) or a combination of the two. To tunnel under a concrete walk or similar obstacle, attach a length of pipe to a garden hose using a hose/pipe adapter. Insert the pipe into the ground, turn on the water and slowlypush in the pipe as the stream of water cuts a hole.

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