Backyard Irrigation Install!

So, hand watering is horrible, let’s all just admit it… If you have no irrigation system there is a way around it! Below are some steps we took to install an irrigation system in the rear of a Highlands Ranch home. We got lucky though, there was already an irrigation system in the front. This saves multiple steps, which the average person would need a plumber to do. In other words, the main water supply in the basement was already tapped into, a backflow device was already installed on the house, which of course led to the existing manifold for the valves actuating each zone in the front. On top of that, we got even luckier! When they built the manifold up front, the white PVC part you will later see holding the valves, they built an outgoing rough and glued a cap on it assuming a system would ultimately be put in back. The reason this is great is once a manifold is built out of PVC in order to tap into it you usually have to take apart the old one, ruining it, and rebuild the front one so you can add the outgoing portion for your new valves. So, we skipped that step as well! Check out the attached photos of the install, which ultimately led to a great system now making this backyard turf even more beautiful!

1. The first step is determining the new valve box location. Unfortunately, many people installing these things give this zero thought. You want it near the turf it is watering, but outside of the turf. Put it near the turf so when you manually activate the valves by hand you can see the zones fire up instantly, instead of running around your house every time because someone, failing to use any brains, put it up front. Put it outside of your turf so you’re not constantly driving your lawnmower over it possibly damaging the valves down the line- This happens!

Ignore the flip flops in the photos, use boots…

2. Second order of business is trench! This part is by far the most exciting, breathtaking, thought provoking part of the process. Enjoy it thoroughly! Trench 5 or 6 inches down. You want enough room so once you put in an irrigation line, with a maximum diameter of one inch, and have the soil on top an aerator can’t puncture the line. Aerators usually go a maximum of 3 inches, unless you imported your back yard “soil” from Lake McConaughy’s beach. In that case who knows how deep it may go. When you pull up the sod, try to cut it out in a triangular shape. What I mean by this is keep it in one whole piece and sort of “flip” it out of the ground holding it together. This will make your yard less mangled once it is put back into place.

(Make sure you have a small dog driving you nuts from eating fresh roots you dug up in the process…)

3. Lay the line…

4. Tap into front manifold. As I said earlier, this was easy for us due to the builder’s landscape subs… If you look at the area where we tapped in, you can imagine there used to be a cap there. We simply cut the cap off and attached a new PVC fitting, gluing it.

5. Build valves. Typically it is best to let this glue dry before messing with it. Lay everything out how you want it, glue it all and then let it sit there and dry for a good amount of time. I believe we let our’s dry from around 5 pm one night until about 10 am the next day, which should be more than enough. Seriously, give it time because if it doesn’t dry and you break it you most certainly will have a meltdown, and the Home Depot people will start calling you by your first name, which is just seriously embarrassing at that point.

6. Lay the valves. This will help you make the final decision of the precise location of the valve box itself.

7. Attach the valves.

This is a nice view to show the simplicity of a system, which many people assume is far more complicated. The line from the left is the supply from the front yard. The white PVC is the means of attaching multiple valves, in this case only two. Notice the 24 volt wiring as well. These wires simply actuate the solenoids in the valve body to open and close the valves themselves. This is a nearly final step in the process. As with the front manifold already having a rough for us, the wiring had been laid to this point as well, so we didn’t have to dig even further to route the new wire into the garage…

8. Attach the sprinkler heads.. Unfortunately, this is a part that is up to you how you do it. We installed Hunter PGP heads, which are wonderful. Depending on the size and shape of your yard you will have to determine whether you use fan spray heads or rotary heads like we used.

Make sure to use two clamps where ever you need one. Two always ensures a more water tight connection. Also, never hesitate to use pipe tape. Everything says it’s not required, but whoever determined that to be written on all of these products has clearly never installed them…

9. Bury the lines. Simply flip the sod back over them, squish them down with your feet until they are level.

10. Make sure to water thoroughly the next couple of weeks, allowing those trenched areas to heal well.

11. Pop a bottle of bubbly and tell yourself and your friends/family this was horrible and never again will you do such backbreaking labor!

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