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Lawn Sprinkler System Choices

There are certain undeniable foundations to a lot of things in life.  For example:  A good education is a good foundation for a successful life.  Certainly a good foundation is necessary to every building.  Likewise, in the garden good soil makes a good garden, and so does a good lawn need a good lawn sprinkler system or lawn irrigation system. 

While I’m a firm believer in doing things for yourself, sometimes it’s just necessary or desirable to hire out what you need done. When it comes to lawns, unless you are very handy and knowledgeable about the subject of lawn sprinkler systems this may be an area that might not be the best DIY project.

Many people hire a lawn irrigation contractor to install an automatic sprinkler system, as doing it yourself is often quite daunting, expensive, and time consuming.

Still, it gets real old lugging the hoses and sprinklers to different parts of your yard during the dry seasons.


Choosing the Right Lawn Irrigation and Lawn Sprinkler System Contractor

Considerations for Selecting Lawn Sprinkler System Installation Services

Additionally, because a lawn sprinkler system is a complex of many pipes, valves, electrical connections and sprinkler heads, unless you are very mechanically inclined and have a background bent towards understanding landscape design and hydraulics, you’ll be better off hiring a professional if you can afford it.

Lawn Sprinker SystemMoreover, you want to hire someone with the knowledge to design a system specific to your own lawn and garden needs. That’s a huge decision, but a very necessary one, because if you pick the wrong irrigation contractor you will be certain to waste precious water, have high water bills, and be left with a green space that is less than green.

A lot of times, who people hire, has a lot to do with what company is soliciting business in their neighborhood, or who installed such a system for a friend or relative. Other times, it’s all about the lowest price quote. While some may have a list of questions to ask a prospective irrigation contractor — most don’t and pay dearly over the long term for this mistake.

Lawn Sprinkler SystemYou would be surprised at how many people in this business have no business being in any landscaping service occupation. Often they are just startup companies that are not legitimate, so your very first clue may be as simple as checking when they arrive to give you a quote as to whether or not their company has its company name on the side of their vehicle. This is often a good barometer of legitimate companies, because the “here today, gone tomorrow” ones often will not invest in the expense of advertising their company in such a permanent way.

Questions to Ask Prospective Lawn Sprinkler Irrigation Contractors

The first questions are quite basic, things you should be asking any contractor before you hire them:

  • Please show me a copy of your certificate of insurance. (Call insurance company to verify)
  • Will the contractor provide and secure all necessary permits, inspections, and certifications required by local authorities in this state? (Ask for proof of all required documents. You may need to contact your local water purveyor to provide details of necessary permits and certifications).
  • Please provide references that I may contact about your work.
  • How many years of experience have you had in irrigation systems?
  • Will any sub-contractors be used in this contract? Will this sub-contractors employees be covered by the contractor’s insurance, and be under his direct supervision?
  • Will you give me a written estimate of work to be done? Is there a charge for this estimate?
  • May I review a copy of your contract?
  • Will you demonstrate that each part of the system, once installed, is completely operational before I pay?

Once You’d Decided On A Potential Lawn Sprinkler Irrigation Contractor

Now that your decision has been made, these questions should be much more specific, and may require you to do a little research, if you aren’t familiar with what the answers to them should be:

  • What type of product will be used and why? The contractor should be able to tell you specifically what type of controller, valves, rotors, and spray heads are best for your particular situation.
  • Back Flow PreventerWill you install a backflow preventer?  A backflow preventer is mandatory by almost all local codes to protect your drinking water supply.
  • Will you guarantee that any over sprays will be minimal?
  • Will you zone the spray heads and rotor heads separately?  Mixing sprinklers with different application rates on the same line, will cause one area to be over watered in order sufficiently water another.
  • Rain Shut Off DeviceWill you install a working rain shut-off device with my system? (Note: This should be required by every home owner). Many states laws require all new sprinkler systems include a rain sensing device to automatically interrupt the system’s regular schedule, when adequate rainfall has been received.
  • Will you give me a map of my completed system? This is important, in case you need to repair your system or should you sell or rent your house out. Sometimes sprinkler heads will “disappear” beneath overly grown lawns or plants and having a map will aid you in finding them to correct the problem.
  • Will you show me how to use my system in both automatic and manual modes? Any decent contractor will take the time to make sure that you understand how to operate your system.
  • Do you warranty in writing, parts and labor for the entire system, including coverage of any dry spots that may later appear? It is standard to get a one year warranty, some companies will offer a two year.
  • Will you be using watertight connectors, a protective valve box?  Not using such watertight connectors, or a protective valve box to safeguard the electrical elements, will be a gateway to short circuits and corrosion.

Before You Pay For Your Lawn Sprinkler System and Before The Contractor Leaves

As a further precaution, there are certain big red flags in irrigation that the homeowner should be inspecting for and making sure have not occurred:

  1. Check to see if they have installed different types of irrigation heads in the same zones (i.e. micro-irrigation, rotors, and sprayers) — this is a big no-no.
  2. Make sure that the system is not spraying your driveway, the house, fence, sidewalk, or street.
  3. Make sure they haven’t cut costs by installing the irrigation heads on pvc risers.
  4. Make sure that the pop-up heads are more than 6” tall when in operation.
  5. Make sure that the rain shut-off device is working.

What Is Micro-irrigation?

Micro-irrigation systemMicro-irrigation is a system of low pressure sprays, misters, sprinklers, or drips. These various systems put water onto the soil surface close to the plant, or just below the soil directly into the plant root zone.  This is a big savings in water usage.

What Is Rotor Irrigation?

These rotor irrigation systems really should be called impact sprinklers.  A “rotor” is the common name for sprinklers that work by rotating streams of water over the landscape.  This is the most common type of sprinkler system seen today.  These impact sprinklers are mounted on a bearing that allows the whole sprinkler to spin in circles, by way of a swinging arm that hits upon itself, causing it to slightly turn each time

What Is Sprayer Irrigation?

Sprayer irrigation is a system in which pressurized water is sprayed over plants to provide them with water, either by movable or permanent sprinklers.  Some rotate and others are in a fixed position.