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How to Upgrade to a Smart Irrigation System

Ask This Old House landscape contractor Jenn Nawada shares DIY Smarts tips when she travels to Orlando to upgrade an irrigation system.


  1. Before doing any digging, always call the local utility locating service to identify underground utilities. This will help you avoid hitting or damaging them while working on the project.
  2. Turn the irrigation system on. When the current irrigation heads come up, use the flags to mark their location. This will make them easier to find.
  3. Dig down near each of the flags to expose the irrigation heads. Unscrew the old heads and thread on the new smart heads.
  4. Place a landscaping ring around each new head to protect it from lawn tools, like a lawnmower.
  5. For drip irrigation, there is a T-head that can be screwed in the same way as the other heads. Then, drip tubing can be connected through both ends of the T to create a closed-loop drip irrigation line.
  6. When replacing the timer, unplug the old unit from the wall. Mark the old wires and remove. Mount the new timer, attach the wires, and plug it in. Connect the timer to the home’s WiFi system for remote monitoring and control.


Jenn upgraded the irrigation system with the following components: 1800 High Efficency Sprays, 42SA Simple Adjust Rotors, Emitter Conversion Kit for Drip Irrigation, and a WiFi Controller (Model ST8i). All of these are manufactured by Rain Bird.

The irrigation shovel can be found at The Home Depot.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by Ken-Lin Landscaping Inc. in Oviedo, FL and Nawada Landscape Design.

Shop Watering & Irrigation at The Home Depot

Shopping List:

Smart irrigation heads
Drip tubing
Landscape ring

(All products above via The Home Depot)