August 19, 2011

Installing a New Sprinkler Head

For Small to Medium Size Lawns

Don't Wait 1 More Minute

If you have a patchy lawn, or maybe you've just started to notice one spot is going a little dry, now is the time to do something about it.

The Solution

A lot of times, the first idea that comes into people's head is that the lawn needs fertilized. They've checked their sprinkler system and all is working just fine and the whole lawn appears to be getting water. It must need fertilizer, right?
If you've already fertilized this season, DO NOT fertilize again. Fertilizing is a one time thing during the summer months.
The real problem: The patch of dying (or dead) grass is not getting enough water. You might think that because it's getting wet when the orbit sprinklers are on, water is not the issue.
Here's an effective rule to go by: Overlap. If a section of grass is not getting sprayed by two sprinklers, it is in jeopardy. Refer to the diagram to the right. You are experiencing a/many dead spots because you have too much space between two or more sprinkler heads.

The Good News

Lucky for you, installing more sprinkler heads is not that difficult. First timers may struggle a little bit. It is always best to have someone show you how to do something like this, but for those of you that are self learners, here's a bit of a guide for you to go by.

What you'll need

First thing you're going to want to do is figure out where the new sprinkler head is going to go. With dead spots, it is probably a good idea to go with a "dead on" approach which means using a 45 degree spray setting rather than a 90 or full 360 degrees. You want to target the dead spot directly. Now, if the dead spot is large or there are multiple dead spots right next to each other, instead of installing more than one sprinkler head you could use a head that sprays 180 degrees, etc. It all, of course, depends on your situation.
However, installing a sprinkler head is almost always going to be the same procedure no matter how big or how many dead spots you have.


Hand Shovel

PVC Cement

PVC Primer

Pipe Cutters


Sprinkler Riser

Sprinkler Head

Installing a Sprinkler Head, Step by Step Guide

1. Turn the main water supply valve to the off position. After you've estimated where the new sprinkler head is going to go, locate the nearest already installed sprinkler head to that point.

2. Dig straight down from the sprinkler head until you come to the piping. Be careful as you dig because PVC pipes crack easily and if you damage your piping, you will have bigger problems on your hands.

3. Determine which way the piping goes based on the other sprinkler heads around it. This will give you a good idea of where the piping is at relative to the location you have chosen for your new sprinkler head.

4. In your head, follow the piping down to the newly targeted are and carefully dig another hole in attempt to locate the sprinkler pipe. Once you find the pipe in a location that a new sprinkler head will be of benefit, dig down and around the pipe to give it lots of space away from the surrounding dirt.

5. Get a feel for where the PVC Tee is going to go by holding it over the pipe and imagining the sprinkler head straight above it. Do not get hasty and cut into the PVC until you have considered the new location for this sprinkler head thoroughly. You should know without a doubt that this is the best, most beneficial spot for the sprinkler head.

6. Once you are sure of where the PVC Tee will be placed within the piping, set it on the pipe where you want it to go and use a marker to mark where you need to cut. The pipe should enter a quarter of an inch into the Tee on each side. Be careful not to cut too big of a chunk out of the pipe. Using the PVC Pipe Cutters, start with a small chunk, then cut out a little more if needed. Once you cut too much, there's no going back. So start small.

7. Now, open both the jar of Purple Primer and the Cement and prepare them for use. Notice the lid has a cottom swab attached. That is what you use to spread the contents onto the PVC.

8. First is the Purple Primer. Place a layer onto the inside of the two bottom holes of the PVC tee then onto the outside of the two edges of the pipe that is underground. Make sure to get the bottom really well.

9. Quickly do the same thing with the cement, spreading on a nice even layer over the Purple Primer. Slide the pipe ends into the Tee nice and snug. Make sure the top hole is pointing straight up.

10. Screw in the sprinkler riser to the top hole of the PVC Tee. Cut off any unneeded sections.
Note: Do not bury the pipe until you have the riser on the correct setting and the cement has dried.

11.Screw sprinkler head onto the riser. Run sprinklers manually to test and make sure it worked. Make sure the dead spot(s) get lots of water. Adjust sprinkler head accordingly.

And there you have it! It may sound complicated but once you get going it is mostly common sense.


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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