Sprinkler with a hose near a path

I don’t know about you, but I dream of the day when I no longer need to move my sprinkler (attached to a hose) across my lawn in order to properly water my yard. My dream of wearing my robe inside instead of while working in the yard early in the morning is attainable, but there are things that any homeowner must do before they can really consider whether to install an irrigation system.

Not only do we need to focus on the soils and grasses on our properties, but we need to know how to properly water our unique plots of land. Aside from this, we also have to tackle the legal side of things, which often go overlooked and land the homeowner in a world of trouble. Avoid legal ramifications, and do your part to properly prepare to install an irrigation system.

How to Choose Sprinkler Heads

The type of sprinkler heads you will end up purchasing for your system directly correlate to the type of soil and grass you have. Before dreaming of how your perfect yard will look, you need to do some research on your lawn and garden. There are several factors to consider when choosing your new sprinkler heads. Here are some questions to answer in order to help yourself choose the perfect fit for your irrigation needs.

  • What soils are in my yard? Do they allow for water to easily access plant and grass roots?
  • How large is the area I need to receive water from a sprinkler?
  • How does my climate impact my watering needs?
  • Which areas of my yard will be more difficult for a sprinkler to reach?

More: For additional information on Sprinkler Heads, please see our Guide to Residential Irrigation.

Checking for Utilities 

You need to check for underground utility lines on your property before you even think about first planting your shovel into the ground. While you may not know this, it is your legal requirement to have your utility lines marked by your providers prior to digging. Don’t acquire the mindset that you don’t really need to contact your utility providers. No dig, no matter how shallow or deep, is small enough for you to not contact your utility providers.

Close up metal sprinkler head

Calling your providers and having them map out your utility lines (typically done by painting over your grass) will keep you and your family safe from the dangers of digging without knowing where your lines are located.  It helps prevent damages to your services and saving you from unfathomable repair costs, should you accidentally hit a utility line.

What About a Permit?

Do you know whether you need a permit to install your irrigation system? Chances are that you will need to obtain a building permit in order to begin your project. Contact your local and county government offices to find out just what you need to apply for so you don’t end up with thousands of dollars in fines for not doing the proper paperwork.

Installing an irrigation system is far more complex than laying pipe in the ground and attaching a hose to your pipe. Not only do you need to properly fit your system to pump water to your lawn and garden, but the system requires a good amount of electrical work as well, making the permit process that much more necessary. Don’t think of these permits as a burden, but rather as your city and county caring about your well-being. If you’re planning on hiring a contractor for the job, they’ll handle all of your permit needs. Otherwise, take the time to determine what you legally need before beginning your dig.


Rachael Jones is a blogger for DIYMother.org. For more great tips on creating a killer lawn, please see our Lawn category. ~jb

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Images via Rachael Jones || sources unknown