No. of Recommendations: 1
I have to admit, I am much more tempted now to try to install a system myself.

Running a Ditch Witch is doable, but I now understand why it's usually done by a guy named Bruno with no neck and Popeye arms. It's like running behind a vibrating refrigerator on wheels around the property. There is one you can ride on, but they only had one for rental and it was booked for a month, plus it was twice the price.

The problem is that it actually digs a trench the whole way. That leaves piles of dirt alongside the entire run, which you have to shovel back in by hand after the pipe is laid. If you contract it out, they have a Ditch Witch which "slices" the turf, neatly inserts tubing underneath, then folds the turf back on top. No muss, no fuss, you can hardly tell they did anything except at the terminus where they leave the pipe sticking up until they add the sprinkler and bury it by hand. But I couldn't find one of those to rent.

Definitely call the utilities to mark your electric, gas, water, cable lines. It's free; around here they need about a week's notice; the paint stays in place for about two months. You should have some idea of where you're going to run your lines so they don't have to paint every inch, just the crossing points.

I don't know what "the kit" is, but I would probably eschew it, at least until I had some idea of what I actually needed. I have a variety of sprinkler heads and/or sprayers because of odd configurations of areas, hills, etc. (You can't mix sprinklers and sprayers because they discharge water at vastly different rates.)

Personally, I have found that the old-style "impact" type sprinklers get clogged over the years as crud gets into the housing. The "gear driven" ones are much more reliable. They also cost a couple bucks more, but are well worth it.

You probably will not hire a plumber to connect water to the system; if you have it professionally installed they will do that. I did it for my system; it's no big deal, it's like all the other connections you will make (and you will make a lot): cut the pipe, dope up the piece, insert, done.

But this is not a "beginner" DIY project; it requires running (low voltage) electric (probably out through the wall of the house or garage), lots and lots of pipe-laying, installation of valves, digging trenches, knowing (or researching) where to put drain-outs, etc.

But if you do, DO NOT skip an important step. People are tempted to just put a sprinkler head on top of the pipe you've just laid. Just put in a T and screw in the head, right? BAD idea. If someone steps on the sprinkler (drives over it, drives a lawn tractor over it, etc.) it will crunch straight down and destroy the master pipe. Instead, put in a T, then "funny pipe" it a foot or two off to the side. Funny pipe is flexible pipe, about a 1/2" diameter. Now if someone steps on the head, it just pushes down into the soil and pops back up, like a diving board.

Think about zones for gardens. As I said I have 8. One of them runs an entire zone which runs drip irrigation to 13 flower boxes around two of our decks. Now the begonias get water every other day, we can go on vacation or whatever, and they're always lush and happy. Some of the garden zones are full throat sprinklers, many are drip irrigation zones. (One of them even T's off a garden zone and refills a bird bath!)

Putting in the system was a lot of work, but it was also "fun" in the DIY sense. I'm sure others here will give you lots of other advice, too.

Note to 1pg: I've had to replace valves when the bottom half of the housing broke. It's happened more than once, to both Rainbird and Toro valves. Don't know why except that we have very high pressure here and I did not think to put in a pressure reducer before connecting the master pipe to the system - and it's too late now without digging up the whole control box.
Print the post  


Disclaimer - Please Read
A message about professional advice.
Useful Resources
Our Home Center has all you need to make buying and owning a home a great experience. Get or refinance a mortgage and much more!
What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.