• In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how to water your lawn and garden—automatically.

    Steps:
    1. Use a pressure gauge to determine the water pressure coming from hose bib (minimum requirement: 30 pounds per square inch).
    2. Calculate the water flow from the hose bib by timing how long it takes to fill a 5-gallon bucket.
    3. Measure the distance between sprinkler spray heads and insert flags to mark their locations.
    4. Dig a 6 to 8-inch-deep trench, then cut 1-inch-diameter polyethylene pipe to length; bury the pipe in the trench.
    5. Slide a 1-inch metal hose clamp onto the end of the 1-inch pipe, then heat the pipe end with a propane torch.
    6. Press a barbed fitting into the end of the softened 1-inch pipe, and tighten the hose clamp with crimping pliers.
    7. Attach a short length 3/8-inch flexible pipe to the sprinkler head.
    8. Heat the opposite end of the flex pipe and force it onto the barbed fitting attached to the 1-inch poly pipe.
    9. Set the sprinkler head into the trench and backfill around it.
    10. At the next head, insert a T-fitting into the 1-inch poly pipe, add length of flex pipe, and install another sprinkler head. Continue in this manner to add more heads.
    11. Grab the orange cap on the sprinkler head and pull to extend the riser; remove and discard the orange cap.
    12. Push a filter down inside the head to prevent dirt and debris from clogging the nozzle.
    13. Screw the nozzle onto the riser.
    14. At the hose bib, install a backflow preventer and a battery-operated timer.
    15. Place a 1-inch metal clamp over the end of the 1-inch poly pipe, then use the torch to heat the pipe end.
    16. Force the heated hose end onto the timer, and crimp on the clamp for a watertight connection.
    17. Turn on the water and test system to ensure all the sprinkler heads pop up and disperse water.
    • 4 to 6 hours for a system with eight to 10 sprinkler heads
    • $200 to $400, depending on the complexity of the system
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Requires digging trenches and working on hands and knees
Ask TOH users about Yard & Garden

Contribute to This Story Below

    Video Directory

    Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • trenching shovel
        Pointed shovel, for digging trench for water-supply pipe
      • propane torch
        Propane torch, used to heat pipe ends
      • pvc pipe cutter
        Pipe cutters, for cutting polyethylene pipe
      • lineman's pliers
        Crimping pliers, for crimping hose clamps onto pipe

      Shopping List

      1-inch-diameter polyethylene pipe and assorted fittings, for delivering water to the system

      3/8-inch-diameter flexible pipe, connects polyethylene pipe to sprinkler spray heads

      Pop-up sprinkler spray heads, used to disperse water onto lawn

      Hose clamps, for securing fittings to hose Battery-powered timer, automatically turns sprinkler system on and off

      5-gallon bucket, used to determine how many gallons per minute of water comes from hose bib.

      Wire flags, for pinpointing sprinkler head placement