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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns

Installing a turf irrigation system

On this page:

Dig trenches and fit the pipe together
Connect to the main water source
Attach risers and flush out the system
Install the sprinkler heads
Connect to timer
Test

Parts of an irrigation system

Dig trenches and fit the pipe together

The first step is digging trenches for the pipe. Make sure you know where gas, phone, cable, and sewer lines are before digging. If you have any doubts, call your utility companies. Following your irrigation design map, make trenches about 8 - 10 inches deep and about 4 inches wide for the pipe. Before fitting the pipe together, lay it out in the trench to make sure you have enough. When you are ready to fit the ends together, make sure they are clean. Brush primer on the pipe ends and glue them together with an adhesive.

Connect to the main water source

After the pipe has been fitted together, it is time to hook it up to the main water source. Shut the main water supply off. Place a copper tee fitting between the house water line and the outside faucet. Install a shutoff valve below the tee and attach the pipe to the control valves with pipe tape to prevent leaking. It is highly recommended that a professional landscaper or plumber connect the pipe to the main water source.

Attach risers and flush out the system

Attach risers to the pipe at each place where a sprinkler head will be placed. Before installing the heads, flush out the pipes by turning on the main water supply and the irrigation system.

Install the sprinkler heads

Attach sprinkler heads to the risers. Place heads at least 2 inches in from the edge of the sidewalk or driveway and make sure they are pointing in the correct directions. They should be placed at or just above the soil level. Placing them any lower would be too low for good coverage and placing any higher could cause them to be damaged by lawn mowers.

Connect to timer

If using an automatic timer, connect the control valves to it with electrical wires through a waterproof pipe. Timers are often installed in the garage. Be sure to arrange the control valves so that areas that have different water requirements can be watered and programmed separately. Set your timer so that trees, vegetable gardens, planting beds, or other shrubs are watered on their own schedule according to their water needs.

Test

Before you fill in the trenches, test your system to make sure that there are no leaks. If you are sure everything is working properly, fill the trenches and complete the final grade of your soil. Conduct a "catch can test" after the final grade to make sure you have obtained uniform coverage. If not, you may need to adjust the placement of the sprinkler heads. At this time you can also calculate the application rate to effectively schedule irrigation.

Photo of bushing primer on pvc pipe

Photo af connecting pipe to connector

photo of attaching riser

photo of connecting sprinkler head to riser

Photo of person programming timer

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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