DIY Lawn Irrigation System

With as much constant care and attention lawn-care requires, it’s shocking that it was one of the most enjoyable things I did this year.

I try to be efficient as possible throughout my day-to-day and watering the lawn by hand or via sprinkler (multiple times a day during some weeks ) did not fit into that category. I did a lot of research online and even got a couple quotes online for a professional irrigation job, and I ended up deciding to give do-it-yourself a shot with this. I was quoted an average of $2000-$3000 dollars to have it done professionally (not including the plumbing I would need to have done as well in order to hook up a new spigot and backflow valve). I thought to myself… “hmm I bet I can do a good enough job myself!”

Overall, it turned out to be quite simple. I went to the local big-box hardware shop and purchased a bunch of PVC pipes and fittings.

For the irrigation controller, I found a 4-zone WIFI enabled controller by Orbit. I liked how it came with an iPhone App and was also controllable via Alexa. I mean… “Alexa, water Zone 1 for 15 min” is probably the coolest thing ever, right?

iPhone irrigation app screenshot iPhone irrigation app screenshot iPhone irrigation app screenshot iPhone irrigation app screenshot

I also purchased a standard irrigation manifold, 4 Rain Bird valves, a handful of sprinkler heads and assorted wiring. (Prob a few other things too)

The next step was to start digging!

I started on the manifold and dug a large pit off to the side of my house near the existing spigot I normally use. I attached all the valves together into a standard setup, plugged in the orbit and did a dry run. So far so good!

Partially completed sprinkler manifold

Closer look at components for a partially completed sprinkler manifold

The next step was to figure out how I would bury these PVC pipes without damaging my lawn too much. I ended up finding a good pattern/groove using a spade and shovel. First I would walk the track where the PVC would be buried and proceeded to use the spade like a knife to slice the turf in a straight line. Next, I used the spade to remove the sod about 5″ down and flipped it over, making my way along the route. In the end, it looked like I just folded the lawn at a seem to expose the dirt.

Daughter helping me with irrigation system

PVC layout of irrigation

PVC layout of irrigation system

The next thing I did was take the shovel and start digging a trench. Finally, I placed the PVC into the trench, attached the sprinkler heads, and buried it. The sod folded back over very nicely and it was almost like I didn’t even leave a mark! I was quite pleased. I repeated this for 3 zones. One of the zones makes a Y so that part didn’t come out as “clean” as I had hoped. (But after the first few weeks of new grass seed, you couldn’t see it!)

Going back to the manifold, I want to talk about how I connected it to the existing spigot. I basically jimmy-ed a bunch of couplings, reducers, and bits and bops together so that coming out of the main input of the manifold was a standard size 3/4″ tube that I fastened a standard female hose attachment to.

On the spigot itself, I attached a splitter, which ended up being quite difficult. I didn’t realize that it actually reduced the flow quite substantially until after I hooked it up. Something you normally wouldn’t notice all that much with normal use – but since I needed all the flow I could get, I had to shop around to find one that worked the best.

After all was said and done, it was such a great relief to turn on each zone, one by one. It all worked out super well and I saved thousands of dollars. I don’t know exactly how much it all cost, but I would estimate it was around $300 for everything (that may even be on the high end).

Lawn Irrigation system on

Feel free to email me with any questions if you have them – I will answer best I can! stephen@thewickedweb.dev