May 20, 2011

Designing Your Own Sprinkler System - Part 3

Sample graph. Courtesy of
An integral part of sprinkler system design is properly measuring your property and creating a top down view on graph paper. Your drawing should be to scale (i.e each square equals one square foot). Be sure to include sidewalks, patios and decks, driveways and trees. Also, you should label everything including, grass, water meter location and garden areas.
Once your layout is complete and to scale, you can decide on sprinkler head types. The three main types of sprinkler system heads are:
  • Large area - Areas larger than 25 feet x 25 feet
  • Medium area - Areas smaller than 25 feet x 25 feet
  • Small area - Areas with shrubs, ground cover and flowers
For larger areas such as backyards and play areas, water sprinkler heads should be placed between 15 and 45 feet apart. This depends on the style of sprinkler head you plan on using. The two main styles of large area sprinklers include gear drive and impact. Pop-up sprinkler heads are ideal for medium-sized areas such as front and side yards and should be spaced between 10 and 15 feet apart. For small areas, mushroom bubblers and shrub heads are ideal.
Using the graph you made, you can determine which types of sprinkler heads need to go in certain areas for optimal yard watering. For narrow areas near sidewalks, lawn sprinklers should be placed evenly 4 feet apart. Place sprinkler heads in corners and use a compass to draw out the spray patterns and distances. After your graph and sprinkler head choices are complete, you can determine and create your sprinkler stations or zones.


Phil Goold is a retired landscaper of 30 years. He loves being outside more than anything else, except maybe pie. He enjoys connecting with other landscapers and gardeners because everyone brings something new and fun to the table. Connect with Phil on Twitter and Google+.

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