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Things you Need to Know before Installing an Irrigation System

April 6, 2013

sprinkler head Kentucky Bluegrass, Red Fescue, Bentgrass, Buffalograss, clay soil, sandy soil, there is a lot to take in regarding your lawn. Knowing just how to water your lawn to achieve that optimal color and health can be an exact science depending on your soil and grass type. The easiest solution to create your dream lawn is to install an automatic sprinkler system. While this will help ease your burden, there’s quite a bit that needs to go into planning an irrigation system. If you’re ready to do the planning and preparation needed to install your sprinkler system, here are a few things you’ll need to do before you install your system.

Check for Underground Utilities
Before you even think about planting your shovel into your yard, you need to check for any underground utility lines that may be in your yard. Not only is this a serious safety measure a homeowner must take, but it is a requirement by law. Before you ever begin digging on your property, you must contact your utility providers, as some utilities are not very far beneath the surface. If you think you can get away with digging, stop; even a shallow dig can get you in a world of trouble with law enforcement, and can create an immense headache for you if you do hit a utility line.

Digging before you know where your utilities are located puts you and your family in danger. Calling your utility providers and having them map out where all of your utility lines run underground will protect you from injury and prevents damages to your utility services, disruptions, and potential repair costs. You may have called your utility providers for a past dig, but don’t assume because your providers have come out to your home before that you’re in the clear. Every job requires a call to your providers to ensure your safety and the neighborhood’s utility services.

Do you Need a Permit?
Did you know that most localities require you to obtain a building permit in order to install an irrigation system? Most homeowners overlook this process, and find themselves paying a large fine as a result. You may be wondering, “Why do I need a building permit if I’m installing something underground on my own property?” Well, I’m glad you asked.

When it comes to irrigation systems, you aren’t just laying pipe in the ground and connecting it to a hose. The fact that your system requires a significant amount of electrical wiring is reason enough for most counties and cities to meet set requirements before you begin this project. If you plan on hiring a contractor to install your sprinkler system, they will most likely take care all of your permit needs prior to installation. But if you plan on tackling this yourself, you need to do your part and obtain all necessary permits.

Watering Ordinances
In line with needing a building permit, many localities require residents to abide by watering ordinances. Many municipalities have implemented laws restricting how many times each week you can water your lawn, how long your sprinkler system can be running, and some have even created laws stating hours that are suitable for watering. Many of these laws have been created in response to droughts and water shortages, so they are not to be ignored. You can do an online search for your city and county water restrictions to see which apply to your location.

Choosing the Right Sprinkler
You can achieve the perfectly healthy lawn and garden with the right irrigation system and watering habits. But before you begin to think about your dream yard, you need to know which type of sprinkler is best for your property. There are many factors to consider when choosing your new sprinklers, and you may discover that you need a few different types of sprinkler heads in order to properly water different sections of your property. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you’re shopping for the right sprinkler heads for your yard.

  • What types of soil are in my yard? Clay soils require more time (and water) for your grass and vegetation to receive the water needed to thrive.
  • How large is the area I need to water? Knowing your soil types and area to water will help you narrow down your sprinkler head selection.
  • How does our climate impact my watering needs? Depending on where you live, you will need different sprinkler heads than someone living in a more tropical area.
  • What are the hard-to-reach areas of my yard? How will I ensure they receive enough water? Sometimes, a drip irrigation system works best for areas you feel your sprinkler couldn’t reach.

Rachael Jones is a blogger for DIYMother.

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