image by Seemann: morguefile.com
Sprinkler systems are not mentally challenging to install. If you are lacking in plumbing or hydraulic skills, you can ask your local home improvement store to help design a system that will suit your needs. They can also provide you with advice and tips on putting the system together. The installation process itselfcan be physically challenging since you will need to be able to dig a variety of trenches about 6 to 8 inches deep, although a rented trencher can help facilitate this.
Find a garden hose connection (hose bib) on your house. Using a water pressure gauge, check the available pressure for the house. These simply screw onto the hose bib.
Draw a small sketch of your house and the intended lawn areas. Make note on your sketch where your water meter is located and include dimensions of your lot size, lawn size and distance the meter is from your house.
Take your sketch and water pressure reading to your local home improvement store. The store representative can provide advice on installation and direct you toward the proper purchases you will need to make. Some stores will actually draw a schematic for you based on your sketch and water pressure.
Install the main irrigation water shut-off. Depending on your plumbing skills, you may want to hire a plumber to install this valve. You will be connecting to your home's main water supply and local plumbing codes may require permits and the installation of an anti-siphon valve to prevent any irrigation water from entering the public water supply. Check with your local building department for these rules and guidelines.
Place an irrigation marking flag in the lawn area, indicating the intended location of each sprinkler. Make sure to provide for head-to-head coverage. This means, if the sprinklers you purchase spray 10 feet, then every 10 feet in the lawn area you will want another sprinkler head. Doing so will prevent dry spots in the lawn.
Dig a trench from the main shutoff valve to each of your flags.
Connect the electronic irrigation valves to the main shutoff valve. According to Rain Bird, it is wise to "leave enough space between valves" to allow room for repair or replacement. The number of irrigation valves you have will depend on the size of your system and the water pressure available. The home improvement store can help you determine the correct number to use.
Install the irrigation piping that will connect the valves to each sprinkler location. When finished, turn on the water to flush out any debris that may be in the pipe from installation.
Install sprinklers and turn the water back on to check for leaks. If no leaks are found, backfill the trenches and install the irrigation clock.
Set the correct time on the clock according to the clock manufacturer's instructions and manually turn on each valve to check for its proper operation.