How To Build Your Own Sprinkler System – Ultimate Guide

Does your lawn transform from a lush, glorious green into an arid, ugly pile of straw when the sun is at its most ferocious?

A lawn will survive for a couple of days without water before showing signs of neglect, but during periods of low precipitation, you need to put a little legwork in to keep that lawn luxuriant and healthy.

It depends on your grass-type, but an average lawn requires an inch of water per square foot every day to keep it at its best. Perhaps you have a grass-type that survives reasonably well during times of drought, but unless you have plenty of rain, you’ll need to water by hand.

How long do I water?

You need a good 5 minutes of spray-time on each area of the lawn for the water to penetrate down to the roots. Many grass-types have roots that could be 6-inches deep – so you need to provide enough moisture to make the surface-water drain down into the earth to get to the roots.

Lawn sprinkler systems can be expensive to buy, but they’re easy to make with just a few pieces of equipment that you’ve probably got lying around in the garden already.

How to build your own sprinkler system

A heads-up

Never water the lawn during the hottest part of the day. Ideally, first thing in the morning (and we’re talking about 5 am!) is best, or later on in the evening. If this doesn’t fit in with your schedule, then you need a system that does it for you.

What you need to create your own sprinkler system

A sprinkler system requires a head that distributes the water over a wide distance. Luckily, you can buy lots of ready-made sprinkler heads, and they’re particularly inexpensive.

The Orbit 54117 sprinkler head is cheap and, depending on your water pressure, can spray to a distance of 10-15ft. You can buy these ready-to-go units with spikes that dig straight into your lawn. Low-lying sprinklers don’t have the same spray reach as a high-set sprinkler – so if you follow these simple instructions for a high-set sprinkler, you should get a decent stretch of spray.

Here’s how to make your very own sprinkler system for less than $15:

You’ll need:

  • A sprinkler head – an Orbit 54117, or a Rainbird 42SA
  • A length of 3/4-inch PVC tubing
  • 3/4-inch T-fitting / or 3/4-inch right-angle fitting
  • 3/4-inch slip hose connector
  • 3/4-inch threaded adaptor
  • 2 x Wall Clamps
  • Teflon tape

You’ll also need some PVC primer, and a strong, water-proof PVC glue.

How to build your own sprinkler system

  1. Cut your PVC tubing to the length you require. If you’re looking for a high-set sprinkler, go for a longer pipe.
  2. Be sure to shave the ends so that they’re smooth – you need to make a waterproof seal, so a smooth cut is required.

How to build your own sprinkler system

PVC tubing

  1. So that your piping is going to glue firmly and permanently, you need to prime the ends and the inside of the connector that the tube is going to be attached to.
  2. Prime and glue one end of the tubing to the primed and glued 3/4-inch thread adaptor. Hold it in place until you feel the glue start to harden – it should only take around 20 seconds.
  3. Wind some Teflon tape around the threaded end of the thread adaptor to create a super-tight seal, and screw the sprinkler head until the seal has locked.

By this stage, you’ve got the main sprinkler body almost ready to go. If you have a smaller garden, then one sprinkler head will probably be sufficient. If, however, you have a more extensive garden, you might want to attach a series of these main sprinkler bodies together into a daisy chain.

If you’re going to have just one sprinkler head, use the 3/4-inch right-angle fitting. If you’re going to use a series of these sprinklers in a daisy-chain, use the 3/4-inch T-Fitting.

  1. For a single sprinkler system, prime the other end of the main sprinkler body tubing, and attach the 3/4-inch right-angle fitting. For a daisy chain of sprinklers, connect the T-fitting.
  1. Prime the exposed end of the right-angle fitting (or one side of the T-fitting) and glue and attach the slip-hose connector. Again, hold until the glue has started to set.
  1. If you’re using the T-fitting, connect an additional slip-hose connector to the other end of the T.

Now all you need to do is connect the end of your garden hose to the slip-hose connector and attach the sprinkler body to a fence or a tree with the clamps, with the sprinkler head at the top, pointing its spray toward your lawn.

If you’re daisy-chaining your sprinklers, attach a second sprinkler body via an extension of a garden hose pipe to the other end of the T-fitting, and construct another sprinkler body in the same way as before. If you have a series of sprinkler bodies, the final one in the chain needs the right-angle slip-hose connector to end the chain.

And that’s it – with your sprinklers in place, all you need to do is switch on the water once a day for around 5-10 minutes, and enjoy all the joys of a perfectly luscious lawn.

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