If you live in a house with a lawn and do your best to keep it green and looking great, then chances are that you have a sprinkler system installed already. These underground systems of pipes that move water around to help inundate your lawn are extremely common and consist of several different parts.
Because these can be somewhat troublesome to install sometimes and difficult to figure out what is wrong, you should know a little bit about the basic components that make your sprinkler system work. Read more as we go into detail about all of these parts and how they help to irrigate your lawn and keep it looking lush!
Main Parts of a Sprinkler System
1. Water Source
Technically this isn’t a part per se, but without a water source, you wouldn’t be able to water your sprinkler system. The water for your sprinkler system can come from a few different places; a pond or stream, a well, a pump, or even the local water supply.
Nowadays most irrigation systems rely on a timer that automatically runs the sprinklers instead of having to switch it on and off manually, which you still can do. Timers are easy to program so that you can set a schedule as to when you want your lawn watered. Most even give you control over which areas or zones you want to water and when. Some more high-end timers have special sensors in them to prevent overwatering, or even stop if there is rain.
3. Backflow Prevention Device (BPD)
A backflow prevention device is a part of the sprinkler system that stops water from flowing back into the source. This is an especially important component if the irrigation is connected to drinkable water so it doesn’t get adulterated by fertilizers or other hazardous contaminants.
Backflow happens when there isn’t enough pressure provided by the pump to push water out of the sprinklers so it rushes back to the source. By having a backflow prevention device installed, this is no longer a concern. Many states require you to have a backflow preventer to be in place if you have a sprinkler system for your lawn.
4. Water Pump
The water pump is arguably the most important part of a sprinkler system. Without this driving force, your irrigation system wouldn’t operate properly. The pump pushes the water through the pipes and up to the sprinklers where they spray onto your lawn. Depending on the size of your lawn there is a good chance that one pump won’t provide enough pressure, so you will likely need a few to have your system running properly.
5. Water Meter
The water meter is a device that monitors how much water your home irrigation system uses and tells you if it is using it efficiently. This device can also help you notice if there is a leakage in your system.
Another thing to keep in mind with your sprinkler system is what kind of water source your system is hooked up to. Because water is considered a utility and your system will be linked to the water meter for your home, you might have to pay for your water and sewage treatment.
6. Control Valve
The control valves in a sprinkler system almost direct the traffic of where the water is supposed to flow. They open and close to make sure that there is enough pressure to properly water predetermined areas of your lawn.
The control valves often operate in conjunction with your system’s timer to water the preprogrammed zones at the right times. When the control valves are installed they are often kept very close together to make sure that they are easily accessible in case of maintenance or modifications.
7. Valve Box
This is a pretty self-explanatory part of your sprinkler system. The valve box serves as an access point for you to get to your sprinkler valves, wiring, and sensors. While it keeps everything in one place, it also helps to protect these parts of your sprinkler from damaging factors like the elements as well as pests.
8. Shut-Off Valve
No matter how high-tech your sprinkler system is, there should always be a shut-off valve installed in case of unforeseen emergencies. The shut-off valve should be programmed so that they automatically switch on when there are any issues or disturbances in your irrigation system, such as a broken sprinkler head or a sudden increase in pressure.
9. Sprinkler Heads
These are the most important parts of having a sprinkler system. Without the sprinkler heads, you would either have to manually water your lawn or risk flooding it by having water shooting straight out of a pipe. It is important to consider the terrain and type of flora that you are going to be irrigating to make sure that you install the right type of head.
10. Pop-up Heads
This is a great style of sprinkler that hides when not in use. The water pressure pushes the heads up so that they can disperse water over your lawn. Pop-up sprinkler heads are good for large expanses of grass as well as areas with flower beds.
11. Shrub Style Heads
Shrub-style sprinkler heads often sit a bit higher above the bushes than they are meant to water. Typically a piece of PVC or metal pipe holds the sprinkler head up to better irrigate larger plants and bushes.
With these two main styles of sprinkler heads, there are two different variations on them as well.
12. Rotor Sprinkler Heads
Rotor sprinklers operate by rotating from side to side to cover larger swaths of ground. Because they spray water at a bit of a slower rate than the traditional spray style, these are considered more efficient and prevent overwatering.
13. Spray Sprinkler Heads
Unlike the rotor style, spray sprinkler heads don’t move. These tend to dispense water in a wider area and work great for smaller areas that need to be irrigated.
14. Drip Heads
Drip heads are very unique and a highly efficient way of watering certain plants. They are often like hoses but with holes that gently leak water into the soil for the roots of the plants to absorb. Drip heads are most commonly found in agricultural settings for fruits and vegetables.
The pipes act like the arteries carrying blood from the heart. When they are underground, they run just under the surface until they get to the sprinkler heads, where they are attached to risers. Risers are vertical pipes that vary in size and length, depending on the type of sprinkler head you have, and attach the pipes to the heads.
16. Sprinkler System Accessories
We have gone over the most important parts that make a sprinkler system. Just because you have all of the above-listed elements doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your pre-existing system. Below are some cool add-ons to make your irrigation system easier to operate.
17. Weather Sensors
Installing a weather sensor is a good idea to have in place to save more water on your bills. This sensor will adjust or even turn off your sprinkler system if there is rain, floods, or even cold temperatures that could result in freezing.
Everything nowadays comes with a remote, so why not add one to your sprinkler system? This gives you the ultimate control over when you want to run the sprinkler cycle or even where, at the push of a button.
19. Sprinkler Head Filters
Sprinkler head filters are a good add-on to install for pop-up sprinkler heads. These work to prevent things that could damage or back up your systems like dirt and pebbles.
20. Sprinkler Tools
Whether you are a do-it-yourself type of person or not, it is a good idea to keep a set of sprinkler tools on hand in case of emergencies. These will help to do everything from installing the whole system to making a quick fix until you can call a professional out to fix the problem. Some items to keep on hand are things like extra PVC parts, shovels, and glue.
21. Underground Fertilizer
If you are looking to keep your lawn fully fed and watered, then it is recommended to look into adding underground fertilizer. By making some small adjustments to the system, you can pump fertilizer into your sprinkler system so that you can do two jobs at once!
Having a home and maintaining the inside and out so that it looks beautiful is a lot of hard work. Installing a sprinkler system can take one more chore off your to-do list so that you can have a bit more time to focus on other things and enjoy your lawn. While there are a lot of parts that make up a home irrigation system, hopefully, the above information has shed some light on what the components are and how they work to keep your lawn beautiful!