As the weather warms up and you start spending more time outdoors, you may find yourself wishing your yard was a little more green and lush. Installing a sprinkler system is one way to help keep your grass healthy and vibrant all summer long. Maryland Lighting and Sprinklers can assist you in choosing the right system for your yard and landscaping needs. But with so many different types of sprinkler systems available, how do you choose? This guide breaks down the pros and cons of different sprinkler setups to help you select the right system for your yard and landscaping needs.
Above-Ground Sprinkler Systems
Above-ground sprinkler systems, also sometimes called above-ground irrigation systems, are one of the most affordable and DIY-friendly options. These systems utilize various sprinklers, pipes, and hoses that sit on top of your lawn rather than being buried underground.
- More affordable, upfront costs compared to underground systems
- Easy for homeowners to install themselves
- Sprinklers and components are accessible for repairs and adjustments
- It can be set up temporarily or taken down at the end of the season
- Less aesthetic appeal since piping sits above ground
- More prone to leaks and punctures from lawn mowing or other activities
- Requires seasonal setup and take down
- Not designed for extreme cold climates
If you just need basic watering for your lawn and garden beds, an above-ground system that you can install yourself may be all you need. These systems are also a good choice if you’re working with a tight budget or rent your home.
In-Ground Sprinkler Systems
In-ground sprinkler systems provide the most seamless look, as all piping and sprinkler heads are buried underground. Water is distributed through a network of PVC pipes to sprinklers that pop up when the system runs.
- Piping is hidden underground for better aesthetics
- Less prone to leaks or punctures from above-ground activity
- Often, higher water pressure leads to better coverage
- A permanent system does not require seasonal setup/take down
- Well suited for lawns of any shape and size
- High upfront installation costs
- Professional installation is recommended
- Repairs require digging to access piping and sprinklers
In-ground systems provide the best long-term sprinkler solution for most landscapes. Though it is costlier to have professionals install upfront, an in-ground system can last for decades with proper seasonal maintenance. The piping’s underground location also makes these systems very durable.
Drip Irrigation Systems
Drip irrigation systems take a more targeted approach by applying water directly to plant roots through a network of small tubing and emitters. Water is delivered via drips or trickles rather than spray.
- Very efficient – less water wasted and lower bills
- Focused watering helps avoid diseases
- Easy to install in existing beds or containers
- It can be automated based on schedules
- Not suitable for full lawn coverage
- Components more prone to clogging
- Require more frequent monitoring and maintenance
Drip irrigation excels at nurturing gardens, flower beds, trees, shrubs, and container plantings. The slow application of water to the soil and plant bases encourages healthier root systems. Drip systems also conserve a significant amount of water compared to sprinklers. This makes them ideal for drought-prone regions. Those with municipal water or wells will see noticeable savings on their bills too.
Sprinkler System Components
Regardless of which type you select, all sprinkler systems share some fundamental components. These include:
- Water Source – This is the inlet that connects to your main home water supply line. Systems also require a backflow preventer valve and a manual shut-off valve.
- Tubing/Piping – What carries water from the source to the sprinklers. Materials like PVC, polyethylene, and rubber are common.
- Valves – Control zones and turn sections of sprinklers on/off when activated. Anti-siphon valves prevent dirty water from flowing back into the pipes.
- Sprinkler Heads – Release water over the lawn or plants. Spray heads, rotor heads, misters and bubblers are some examples.
- Timers/Controllers – Automate when the system runs by opening/closing valves according to set schedules. Smart controllers adjust for weather fluctuations, while basic timers stick to fixed run times.
- Filters – Essential for keeping small debris from clogging pipes and sprinkler heads. Filters should be inspected and cleaned regularly.
Professional installation will ensure all components are sized and situated properly for optimum performance. But DIYers can certainly put together their own above-ground system with some planning and elbow grease as well.
Where to Find Sprinkler Installation Help
Installing an underground sprinkler system is a complex work best left to the professionals. Be sure to obtain quotes from multiple sprinkler service near me companies before selecting one. Ask for references and check reviews to verify they do quality work. Reputable irrigation companies should also carry proper licensing and insurance.
For basic above-ground sprinkler setups, you may choose to tackle the work on your own. There are kits available at most hardware stores that provide all the materials you need. You’ll also find staff there that can offer pointers if you get stuck. And helpful YouTube videos can provide visual step-by-step guidance.
If you need assistance programming your sprinkler system controller or troubleshooting issues, your installer may include limited service calls as part of the initial installation. For ongoing tune-ups and repairs, establish a relationship with a local sprinkler maintenance company. They can assist with spring start-ups, blowouts before winter, adjustments, and fixing leaks. This helps ensure your system runs smoothly for many years.
Assess Your Sprinkler Needs
Choosing the right sprinkler system involves assessing your available budget, yard size and shape, local climate, and goals. Those with ample funds, large properties, and cold winters are often best served by a professionally installed underground system. For smaller spaces like apartment balconies or townhouse gardens, a simple above-ground setup should suffice.
Be sure to consider expandability too. Even if money is tight now, you may opt for a modular underground system that additional zones can be added to later. This eliminates the need to uproot everything for future upgrades.
No matter which type of sprinkler system you select, the reward is the same – being able to enjoy lush and vibrant landscapes all season long. So start researching the various options and request quotes from local sprinklers installation near me companies today. Before you know it, you’ll have the greenest grass on the block!