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Automated Sprinkler System Anyone Can Do!

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I hate watering my yard and did not want to drop thousands on a permanent sprinkler system. So, I came up with this solution using regular garden sprinklers and faucet timers.

I use regular lawn sprinklers and make custom-length garden hoses. I "permanently" place the sprinklers and hoses in areas that are out of sight and set them on timers. Once the system is in place a set on the timer, I can leave it and forget about it. The system is completely modular and can grow with your needs. The best part is, if you ever move, you can take it all with you and use it at your next place.
 
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Step 1: Plan

Picture of Plan
the-thinker 3.JPG
So, the idea is to place regular lawn sprinklers in "permanent" locations. Ask yourself the following questions:

How much of your yard do you want to water?
Where can you put a sprinkler to reach the maximum amount of area, yet remain out of sight?
Where are your outdoor faucets located, and if needed, can you add another one? (that's an instructable for another day)
Where will hoses need to be run, and can they be hidden in flower beds, under a deck, etc.?

Browse your Home Depot or Lowe's to figure out what sprinklers will best fit your needs. Sketch out your yard. Get creative! This is the most fun part.

AWESOME!!!

I don't want to say I am being cheap but I am doing this SAME method.

I can't see spending $2k to an in ground sprinkler system when I can do this method and hide everything as far as the hoses are concerned under the mulch! (They only need to spray the front lawn and not that big of one at that...)

I was going to ask about the hose and custom length and glad I saw how you did it. I couldn't find anything under 25' in the stores, making custom length run of hoses would be ideal for this!

I was initially going to use the spike lawn sprinklers and hide them behind or beside a bush so you wouldn't see them... now I am thinking of buying two in ground units and then simply attaching them like the above and turning on the water manually... It's only for the front yard, nothing huge and only needs to go to the front and sides.

This has given me so many ideas!!

-Nigel

kentg4432 years ago
i would use the lawnbelt system i just found.
jgomezvi2 years ago
Can I use that same type of HOSE while burying it under ground? I want to use your concept but to install pop-up sprinklers
ebenitez3 years ago
I have been thinking about how to water my front and back yard without incurring in big expenses (I can't afford it) and I thought about doing what you did (right now I have something similar above ground) but I notice there is not enough psi in one faucet to connect more than two sprinklers. Would a manifold solve my problem? or would I need more faucets? I moved to Texas from Florida five years ago and I it worries me the separation of the soil from the foundation thus watering more often is urgent. Any advice will be appreciated.
shepnstein (author)  ebenitez2 years ago
stagger the times, I agree with jchlimoun.
Sorry for the late reply. These replys go to an old email address
Your best bet is to use multiple timers at the outlets of a manifold and stagger the times so that no more than two are on a time. The manifold alone will do nothing for you, and adding more faucets doesn't give your house's water supply more pressure... it's like you're trying to drive a 10A load with a 2A power supply... running more wires doesn't change anything.

Commercial sprinkler systems do this using zones. The installer is supposed to size the zones and partition them off, and set up the timers in such a way that no more than X number of zones operate at a time, based on how much pressure each zone requires and how much is available.
shepnstein (author) 2 years ago
Here's an update. After a few years, none of the timers work anymore. The system is still convenient as I don't have to drag sprinklers everywhere and hook/unhook hoses, but the timers are not made to last more than a few seasons. What a disappointment there.
bonfire8174 years ago
Very cool Instructible! Thanks for sharing. I love the idea for my lawn, but I like to hand-water the garden since I only have a few warm months up here in North Dakota and I like to check on all my veggies and flowers constantly!
shepnstein (author) 4 years ago
thanks for the comments. @cookiemonster- you wouldn't want to put the timer in the middle of a hose, because you would be leaving the garden hose under constant pressure up to the timer, and the hose would eventually burst. Garden hoses aren't designed for constant pressure. I've had one burst on me before. thanks for the other tips everyone.
greeen4 years ago
Ahahha!
Hey; I like your instructable; I have one question though: My garden will only require one sprinkler (it's very small), do I still need a faucet to set up my system; or can I just split the hose and install the timer in the middle?
swechsler4 years ago
Orbit already makes a device for this, so you don't have to play around with using multiple timers.
 
Utahtabby5 years ago
I've done something similar, using a quiet-type rotating sprinkler that throws water way across my lawn, but very quietly. It's yellow, about 10 inches tall, the top half can spin 360 degrees and Bob Vila advertised it on TV years ago. I don't know what it's called and the labeling is all worn off, but I like the fact that it is quiet because my neighbor's watering system wakes me up before dawn when it comes on. The only thing I can add to your instructable is to test how long you can get your hoses before you lose too much pressure to water the area you're trying to water. I can only get 3 of those sprinkler heads that go so far and then 'snap back', on one hose, and sometimes the snap-back part gets stuck and I get one area flooded if I am not watching. So use any other kind of sprinkler head than that kind and test how it will all work before you make any 'permanent decisions' involving cutting hoses, glue or nailing supports-- ha
tlenker5 years ago
One improvement would be to add a water hammer arrester (shock absorber) to your system. It will help with the pressure being placed on your splitter and even hoses that maintain pressure when sprinklers are not on.
servant746 years ago
I did something like this years ago at a couple of different houses.

I put the inground sprinklers, and made sure the farthest one was the lowest.
In the bottom of the sprinkler, you can remove a plug and replace it with a automatic drain plug (it lets water out when there is no pressure). Put a good layer (3 to 6 inches) of gravel or shells under it, and every time you turn your sprinkler off, it will drain the lines automatically. This way I did not have to worry about winterizing. The plugs cost a buck or so a piece. One for each of the lowest spots is GREAT!

In many locations if you are going to attach something to a spigot 'permanently' you are supposed to put in a back flow preventer. It keeps possibly contaminated water from coming back into your house. It is needed only on the spigot at the house/ground before it goes into the manifold where you attach timers/hoses.

PVC Pipe, I used 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe, and found it easy to work with especially for permanent installation. I had it come out of the ground near the water spigot on the house. I put hose fittings on the end of the pipe, and 'quick change' fittings (good ones are cheap at Harbor Freight and other discount places, I like the brass ones!). Having an old hose I ran over with a lawn mower, I cut a part down to about 6' and it worked well to 'swap' between circuits.

At my first house, I set it up so I could put on a fancy automatic timer, etc, but never did.

At the next house I used it as an 'in ground water hose with sprinklers attached'.

At both places, I even ran PVC under a (single wide) driveway to be able to water there. In all cases, it was a GREAT and CHEAP investment. It takes a couple of days of planning, installing, and 'changing'. But it was fun to do and saved a lot of hauling hoses and changing sprinkler setups!

Do watch putting sprinklers next to driveways. Somehow they are 'tire attractors'. And replacing physically broken sprinklers is a nuisance. There are ways folks say you can protect them (concrete donuts, etc) but the best bet is to keep them WAY away from the edge of a driveway.

At one place I put bubblers in the flower bed. But in my last place we put in 'leaky hose' and covered it with mulch. It makes for a poor mans drip irrigation system.

I hope this helps someone!
bkosley6 years ago
Very cool. I like that you can take it with you.
Derin6 years ago
I think using a pump to pull out the residual water from the hose,my 75mm pipes store a ton of water
awoodcarver6 years ago
Very NIce , I have in ground system and over the years it has buckled from tree roots and such ....with this I think just maybe I can use the old valves and just run hoses instead of digging up the yard again...I would have never thought to try with hose without reading this
codongolev6 years ago
cool.