Sprinkling System Design: How To Build Your Own At-Home Irrigation

Map of backyard for sprinkling system design

A quality irrigation system brings many benefits to homes. These benefits can make the difference between homes with beautiful, thriving natural landscapes and those with dying lawns that worsen yearly.

Luckily, you can plan and build a high-quality irrigation system through a simple five-step process.

Here we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about sprinkling system design and where you can go for professional irrigation installation and design to skip the hassle of setting it up yourself.

*This is one way to design an irrigation system, mostly for DIYers. Professional irrigation installation contractors may use a different, more in-depth process.

Basic Overview

A proper sprinkling system design requires a bit of paperwork and a lot of planning ahead. 

Luckily, the design process is easy when you know how to approach it. You can achieve an effective layout with a few simple materials: 

  • Mapping equipment to plot your lawn (paper, pencils, pens, or use an online planner)
  • Tape measure to gauge your lawn’s exact dimensions
  • One-gallon bucket to measure the water flow rate
  • Construction permit (if required in your city)

Step One: Measure and Map Your Yard

Measuring tape on lawn

Eyeballing your irrigation system design and indiscriminately placing sprinklers on the map will only lead to a bad lawn. You might get dry spots in some parts of your yard, overwatering in others, and an ineffective sprinkler system overall. 

Therefore, the first and most vital step in lawn irrigation design is taking the time to roughly draw out your yard to plot where each piece of the system will go.

To map your yard, take your tape measure and run it across the length and width of the grassy areas to estimate its dimensions. You don’t have to be perfect, but getting as close as possible to its actual size will ensure that your design covers all of the right areas. 

Use the dimensions to draw a top-down property map to visualize your sprinkling system design. Again, you don’t have to be entirely accurate, but be careful with the sketch and its dimensions. When you place your sprinklers, you want them to have a wide coverage range with no overlap. 

You will also need to create a scale to fit your entire lawn on your map. The standard scale for sprinkling system design is one inch on the drawing for every 10 feet of land. But you can adjust those measurements depending on your paper’s size.

Step Two: Determine the Capacity

Pressure gauge

The next step of sprinkler system design is to find out how much water you have access to at your property.

Your home’s water access will help you determine your water pressure and flow rate, which will tell you how far you should spread your sprinklers on your map. Fortunately, assessing your home’s water supply and the system’s water pressure is simple if you get your water from a utility company.

To test your water pressure, turn off all your home’s water sources and attach a pressure gauge to the faucet outside. The results from the water gauge will reveal your property’s static water pressure. This determines how much working pressure your sprinkler system can handle while running.

To find your home’s water flow rate, you will first need how many gallons per minute (GPM) your home’s outdoor faucet can produce.

The easiest way to do this is to place your one-gallon bucket under the running faucet and time how long it takes the bucket to fill. To determine your flow rate, take 60 seconds and divide it by how long your spigot needed to fill the bucket.

For example, if it took six seconds for the bucket to fill, your home’s GPM would be 10, which is 60/6.

Mark both numbers on your sprinkling system plan and move on to the next step.

Step Three: Identify the Proper Spots for Your Sprinkler Systems

Flag marking for sprinkler

With the prep work for your sprinkling system design finished, you can return to your map and plot out where you want your sprinkler heads.

You can use your property’s dimensions, water pressure, and flow rate to find the most effective locations for each sprinkler. These locations allow water to reach every intended area without overwatering certain parts.

Drawing hydro-zones onto your map is also essential for sprinkler system placement. A hydro-zone refers to any area of your lawn with different hydration needs than others. Knowing how to zone for irrigation is very important.

For example, because shrubs and grass have different water requirements, the spaces with shrubs would have a separate hydro-zone with dedicated shrub sprinklers than those with grass.

Since different plants need contrasting amounts of hydration, it’s vital to research everything in your yard to see what sprinklers and moisture levels will work for each feature. 

Step Four: Map the Sprinklers Together With Properly Placed Pipes 

Draw a line between each sprinkler head in an individual zone on your map. That line represents the pipe connecting all your sprinklers, so make the path as straight as possible for minimal congestion and link it to the zone’s valve.

Seeing the pipes laid out helps you ensure that you’ve mapped the sprinkler heads in practical spots where they’ll receive sufficient water.

Step Five: Bring Your Sprinkling System Design to Life

Simmons truck outside of home

Once you’ve mapped the pipe routes, your sprinkling system design should have everything needed for a quality irrigation system. Now, it’s time to make your hard work and planning a reality. 

If your city or county requires a permit for irrigation installation, go through the proper channels to acquire one before calling a construction team. Otherwise, you can start getting ready to either install your system yourself or call Simmons Landscape & Irrigation to make your plans come to life. And if you need help with lawn or garden issues beyond irrigation–such as lawn care or landscape plantings–we know several great local companies we recommend.

Call Simmons Landscape & Irrigation, Inc. for Professional Sprinkling System Design and Installation in Bowling Green, Ohio

It takes time, expertise, and a professional’s touch to design and install an irrigation system without a hiccup. Luckily, Simmons Landscape & Irrigation, Inc. can! We’ll take the hard job out of your hands and bring your home a state-of-the-art, expertly crafted sprinkling system design.

Our company has served northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan since 1915, and we use that experience to provide unbeatable service to every client. Fill out our contact form today to schedule a consultation and learn what an irrigation system can do for your home.