A sprinkler irrigation system automates the process of keeping your lawn or plants watered. A reliable sprinkler system can save time, money, and water.
The average cost of a home sprinkler system is between $2,500 and $3,500 for a quarter-acre lot. However, multiple factors influence the price, including the size of your lawn and the number of zones that you want to water. You may pay between $500 and $1,000 per zone.
You also need to consider the type of sprinklers, installation costs, maintenance, and the brand, along with several other details that we’re going to explore in more detail in this guide.
Factors Affecting the Cost of a Sprinkler System
Type of Sprinkler System
There are several common types of sprinkler irrigation system for residential properties:
- Traditional spray systems
- Drip irrigation systems
- Rotor sprinkler systems
Each type of sprinkler system has distinct advantages and disadvantages for different landscapes and uses. The cost of installation also varies significantly.
Traditional spray systems consist of pop-up sprinkler heads or ground-level sprinkler heads. This type of system offers wide coverage for open landscapes. The sprinkler heads deliver water in a quarter, half, or full circle.
While traditional systems offer maximum coverage, they can waste water. This also increases the risk of oversaturation. If the soil cannot absorb the water, you may end up with puddles of water throughout the yard.
As traditional systems may waste water, they may not offer the same savings on your water bill compared to other options.
Drip irrigation systems are the most water-efficient option for delivering water to plant beds. They typically consist of plastic or PVC pipes with small holes that allow water to slowly drip.
Drip systems are an affordable option. They tend to cost about $80 to $100 for a 100-foot system. The same system would likely cost $320 or more for professional installation. Keep in mind that drip irrigation does not offer the coverage needs for watering your lawn. It is best suited for spot watering plants or flowers.
Rotor sprinkler systems have become the preferred choice for landscape irrigation. They offer a variety of design options, including multiple types of sprinkler heads:
- Pop-up spray
Pop-up spray heads remain underground until needed. When delivering water, they can extend 2 to 20 inches above the ground. One pop-up spray head can typically cover a radius between 3 to 15 feet.
Gear-driven spray heads are a cost-effective choice for larger yards. They have enclosed designs to prevent clogging from debris, resulting in less maintenance.
Impact spray heads offer optimal coverage, with a spray radius up to 150 feet. They can also be noisy, which makes them unsuitable in some residential areas.
Automated or Manual Sprinkler Controllers
Along with choosing between traditional, drip, and rotor systems, you need to decide how to control the flow of water. Most homeowners choose some type of automated controller for their sprinkler systems. The older automated systems relied on timers while the latest sprinkler controllers are smart devices.
Smart controllers connect to the internet to check the forecast and read data from soil sensors. This allows the system to avoid watering on rainy days and only deliver water when the soil needs it, resulting in the most efficient sprinkler system.
Adding a smart controller can increase the cost of your sprinkler system by $80 to $800. The cheaper models offer fewer setting options, while the more expensive controllers allow you to set up more watering zones.
Brand of Sprinkler
After choosing a type of sprinkler system, you need to consider the brand of sprinklers. Some of the top sprinkler brands include:
- Rain Bird
- Orbit Irrigation
Most of these companies produce products for every budget. However, Rain Bird, Toro, and Orbit Irrigation tend to offer some of the most affordable sprinklers and sprinkler system components.
The size of your lawn is one of the most important factors in determining the cost of your sprinkler system. If you have a large lawn, you may need additional sprinkler heads and larger water capacity, increasing the costs.
The average cost of installing a sprinkler system on a quarter-acre property is about $2,500 to $3,500. A quarter-acre is equal to about 10,890 square feet, which is a relatively large size for a residential property. Installing a sprinkler system on a half-acre property may cost between $3,500 and $5,500.
Number of Zones
Most yards have more than just grass. You may want to water plants and flowers. You may also find that some areas of your yard need more water due to increased or decreased shade. Irrigation systems often include watering zones to ensure that each area receives the right amount of water.
Each zone has a separate watering schedule or can receive different instructions from the smart sprinkler controller. This increases water efficiency and the health of your lawn and plants.
Increasing the number of zones may also increase the cost of your sprinkler system. The cost of manual and automated watering controllers varies based on the number of watering zones it can handle.
Handling the installation on your own can save 30% to 40% of the average sprinkler system’s cost. However, you also increase the risk of installing an inefficient system that will require frequent maintenance. In the long run, hiring a professional may be the more economical choice.
You typically need a licensed plumber to inspect the system and properly connect it to the water supply to prevent backflow. A backflow preventer keeps the water in your pipes from backing up into the local water supply.
The installation process also requires you to dig trenches in your yard. It typically costs about $68 to $72 per foot to dig a trench. If you need to run 20 feet of pipe, you may pay $1,360 to $1,440 to hire a professional. If you choose to do it yourself, you will need to rent a trencher, which costs about $150 to $160 per day.
Operating and Maintenance Costs
The operating costs are mostly related to water rates in your local area. For example, the San Antonio Water System charges 0.6 cents per gallon. If your system uses 12 gallons of water per minute, you pay about $13 for three hours of use.
You also need to consider maintenance costs. Sprinkler heads and other components may break, which can cost about $50 to $100 per hour in labor to replace.
In cold regions, you may need to winterize your system. This tends to cost $50 to $120. To get it ready in the spring, you may need to pay another $40 to $150.
After digging up your yard to install a sprinkler system, you need to cover the pipes and reseed the grass. Luckily, this is not a major project. If you choose to replace and roll sod and then reseed on your own, you can save about $5.70 per square foot.
Planning Your Sprinkler System Installation
Hiring a professional may save money over time while also ensuring that your system operates properly. Even if you choose to work with a professional, you can start planning your system to make the process a little easier. Here are the basic steps for planning a sprinkler system:
- Create a map of your property
- Separate the property into zones
- Mark utility lines and pipes
- Choose the best type of sprinkler head
- Determine where to place each component
Create a scale map of your yard and the location of your house. Mark the areas based on their watering needs to separate your property into zones. For example, your front yard may get more sunlight, requiring more water. You may also have plant beds or flower beds with specific watering requirements.
Contact your local utility company and have them mark the location of utility lines and pipes in your yard. You will need to dig your trenches around these spots.
Select the sprinkler head based on your watering needs. A pop-up spray head works well for small yards and watering zones. However, a gear-driven head offers more coverage.
The last step before installation is choosing where to place everything. Based on the radius of the spray from the sprinkler heads, decide where to place each sprinkler head. You should also choose a location for the smart controller or manual controller.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a permit to install a sprinkler system?
Yes, in most cases, you need a permit and a licensed plumber. Many localities and states require a building permit while others do not. Your area may also have ordinances related to water systems, such as requiring a licensed professional for installation. Always check your local regulations before installing a sprinkler system.
Is it worth it to install a sprinkler system?
An efficient irrigation system with soil sensors and separate watering zones can save water compared to manually watering. The savings make a sprinkler system a worthwhile investment for those that care about their lawns and plants.
Does a sprinkler system add to the value of a home?
A professionally installed sprinkler system may not increase the resale value of your home. Still, it can make your home more attractive to buyers. A perfectly green lawn makes a better first impression, which is one of the most influencing factors in home sales.