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How to Install a Sprinkler System Part 1

Want a more efficient way to keep your yard or garden watered? Get started with part 1 of How to Install a Sprinkler System.


  • Step 1: Survey the area Consider what you want to water and its distance from the faucet at your water source to determine how many pipe routes, or stations, you need and the sprinkler locations along each station. Then, mark the ground with a pick to map out the trenches for your sprinkler system.
  • TIP: Plan your layout with as few trenches as possible to save labor when digging.
  • Step 2: Prepare the manifold Prepare to make a manifold, which connects the faucet to the valves that control each station. Place 1/2-inch PVC T fittings in a line, with 1 for each station. Then, use a tape measure and pencil to measure 3-inch lengths of PVC, and cut with a hacksaw. These pieces will connect the fittings.
  • TIP: For all pipes you cut, file down both ends until smooth.
  • Step 3: Make the manifold Make the manifold. Using PVC solvent, glue a 3-inch length of pipe into a lateral end of the first T fitting. Glue the other side of the pipe into the adjacent T's nearest lateral end. Then, glue a second length of pipe into the other lateral end. Continue gluing the fittings to the pipes until they're joined in a straight line.
  • Step 4: Finish the manifold Cut 2 additional 3-inch lengths of pipe; glue 1 into the far-most lateral end of the last T and the other into the open lateral end of the first T. Then, glue a 1/2-inch cap to the pipe extending from the last T and a 1/2-inch union to the pipe extending from the first T.
  • Step 5: Prepare the valves Prepare a valve for each station. Wrap the threads of 2 3/4-inch slip-to-thread adapters with 7 to 8 turns of thread-seal tape; screw 1 into each side of a single valve. Glue a 3/4-inch to 1/2-inch slip adapter into each slip-to-thread adapter. Then, cut 2 10-inch lengths of pipe and glue 1 into each adapter. Repeat for each valve.
  • Step 6: Connect the valves Find the arrow on the valve that indicates the flow direction; determine from which side the water will enter. Glue the pipe connected on this side into the open top-end of the first manifold T fitting. Glue the other pipe into a 1/2-inch, 90-degree elbow fitting so the fitting lies parallel to the valve. Repeat for each valve.
  • Step 7: Set the manifold Using a spade, dig a 6-inch hole near the faucet that's large enough to accommodate the manifold. Place the manifold in the hole, so the union faces the faucet.
  • TIP: Lay a 1-inch bed of gravel between the bottom of the hole and the manifold to keep the manifold clean.
  • Step 8: Adjust the water source Screw a Y hose connector to the faucet and a 1/2-inch PVC-to-hose-fitting adapter to the Y's lower branch, leaving the upper branch closed. Then, wrap the threads of a 1/2-inch PVC slip-to-thread adapter with 4 to 5 turns of tape and screw it into the hose-fitting adapter.
  • Step 9: Attach the manifold Glue a network of pipes and 1/2-inch fittings together to route the water supply line to the manifold's union. Then, glue the supply line to the union.
  • Step 10: Dig the trenches Starting at the manifold, use the spade, pick, and hoe to dig 4-inch deep trenches for each station's pipes. Now you're ready for How to Install a Sprinkler System Part 2: Lay the Pipes and Install the Timer.
  • FACT: Egyptian farmers began using the Nile River to irrigate their fields in 6000 BCE.

You Will Need

  • Water source
  • Pick
  • 1/2-in. PVC fittings and joints
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Hacksaw
  • 1/2-in. PVC Schedule 40 pipe
  • Steel file
  • PVC solvent
  • 1/2-in. PVC cap
  • 1/2-in. PVC union
  • Thread-seal tape
  • 3/4-in. thread-type automatic anti-siphon sprinkler valves
  • 3/4-in. slip-to-thread adapters
  • 3/4- to 1/2-in. slip adapters
  • Spade
  • Y hose connector
  • 1/2-in. PVC-to-hose adapter
  • 1/2-in. slip-to-thread adapter
  • Hoe
  • Gravel (optional)

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