When deciding on a lawn irrigation system, planning ahead is the most important thing you can do. For those who water their grass with a traditional garden hose and lawn sprinkler from the hardware store, the idea of a sprinkler system may seem deceptively simple. From the water pump you select to the sprinkler heads you install, designing a well-functioning lawn irrigation system is anything but simple. Below is a high-level review of the components of a lawn irrigation system.

Water pump

Water pumps are the heart of the irrigation system. For smaller systems, you may have a single booster pump. However, most can count on the need for a multiple irrigation pumps depending on their design. While standard municipal water pressure is fine for running a garden hose to a sprinkler in the middle of the lawn, irrigation systems require a higher pressure to efficiently pump the water through the pipes and the sprinkler heads.

If you need to rebuild your Wayne sprinkler system pump, check out our rebuild kit .

Water Meter

The water meter, as you would assume, measures the amount of water used to irrigate the property. This allows you to ensure the proper amount of water is applied to the different zones.

But, the irrigation water meter can also be part of your water utility setup. Many municipalities assess a fee for water usage and for water sewage treatment. Under normal circumstances, the amount of water used is also the amount upon which sewage treatment fees are assessed. With irrigation systems, the water does not flow through the full cycle and is therefore not charged the treatment fee.

Different municipalities have different requirements, so be sure to check before you install an irrigation system.

Pump Controller

We’ve talked about pump controllers previously, and you can get more detailed information here. For lawn sprinkler systems, the control has two primary functions: 1) Manage the watering process, ensuring each zone receives the correct amount of water. 2) Monitor the system for possible malfunctions and alert when the happen, as well as shutdown the system if necessary. The pump controller is connected to the system and system sensors to monitor pressure and flow. Any drastic variance in these metrics and there is likely a problem. The controller's ability to pinpoint the problem will depend on how you distribute/place the sensors.

Valve box

Valve boxes are for more than just valves. Valve boxes are placed underground to house components of the sprinkler system. The valve box allows the owner easy access to the sprinkler valve, or other components (sensor, wires, etc), while protecting them from the elements, accidents (errant lawn mower), and pests. With the judicious use of valve boxes, well-designed sprinkler systems can be nearly invisible yet easily accessible for maintenance and repairs.

Sprinkler Shut-off valve

While the idea of a shut-off valve is simple, when incorporated into a well-designed sprinkler system, the sprinkler shut-off valve plays a key role in avoiding or mitigating potentially damaging problems. With a solenoid switch, proper power supply, and a well-designed controller, the system can shut down the water as soon as problems are detected. By properly planning the zones of your irrigation system, and installing the appropriate shut-off valves, you can minimize disruptions while maximizing system protection.

Backflow Prevention Device

When connected to a potable water supply, the backflow prevention devices (BPD) protect the source water from contamination and backup pressure should something go wrong. Municipalities will require a BPD be installed. Usually, when you install the water meter to separate irrigation usage from household usage, there will be a concurrent requirement to install a backflow prevention device.

Type of heads

We won’t get into the various sprinklers that you can connect to your system. What you use will depend on your purpose, and most systems are setup up with different types of heads. From impact sprays for the lawn to soakers for a flower bed, you will need to plan the type of watering required for your plans and select the heads designed to deliver.

Some types of sprinkler heads:

  • Rotors
  • Impact Sprays
  • Drip Lie
  • Emitters
  • Bubblers