A Three Head Sprinkler for Odd Lawns




Introduction: A Three Head Sprinkler for Odd Lawns

About: I am close to completing my workspace in the basement. Finally, I will have a place to work on all the nefarious projects I have planned. This removes the final impediment to my plot to achieve world dominat…
This is my first Instructable, so be brutal.
My idea was inspired by bwpatton1 and his “Simple Garden Sprinkler out of inground popup sprinklers”.  He mentioned that he intended it as a springboard, and I jumped all over it.

My yard has several areas that are too big to use a soaker hose on and too oddly shaped to use an oscillating or rotating sprinkler without multiple moves. I wanted an easy way to evenly water these areas that could be adapted to other hard-to-water spaces.
My goals for any project and Instructable are simple:
Low cost (if you have money to burn, please donate to my early retirement fund)
No parts made from unobtainium (a rare element that is either very expensive or only found in a single store in Outer Mongolia, and it's on back-order)
Simple fabrication (use common tools, no tool-and-die machinist certification required)
Fill a need (okay, sometimes I like to tinker for the sake of tinkering)

I think I achieved all of my stated goals with this project.

Step 1: Materials:

The parts for this build were all found on two aisles of my local big-box hardware store.
Qty   Desc
1  x  3/4” x 10’ PVC pipe, Sch 40
6  x  3/4" PVC cap
5  x  3/4" PVC tee, slip x slip x slip
3  x  3/4" PVC tee, slip x fpt x slip
1  x  3/4" PVC 90° elbow
5  x  3/4" PVC adapter, slip x fpt
3  x  1/2" thread x 3/4" mpt (next to the sprinkler heads; this converts the 3/4" PVC threads to the 1/2" sprinkler head threads, which is not the same as 1/2" PVC threads)
3  x  2.5" popup sprinkler head, 180° pattern
5  x  1/2" insert x 3/4" mpt (next to water heater and sump pump items)
5  x  #8 hose clamp
1  x  5/8” garden hose (cheap, it will be cut up)
Teflon thread tape
PVC primer and cement
Total cost for the materials was about $25.00.

Step 2: Tools:

Miter saw (could also use a hacksaw or PVC cutter)
Sandpaper (for de-burring the cut pipe ends)
Utility knife
Adjustable wrench or pliers

Step 3: Cut the Pipe:

I have used a hacksaw to cut PVC pipe before, and it works.  Not fun, but it works.  Then I read an Instructable that said you can cut PVC with a power miter saw using a standard wood blade.  I tried it, and it works (and it’s fun, too).  I cut 5 x 2” lengths, 6 x 3” lengths, and 6 x 6.5” lengths of pipe.  Use the sandpaper to clean the burrs off of the cut ends of the pipe sections.

Step 4: Dry Fit:

With any plumbing project, it is always a good idea to test fit the fixtures to make sure everything will go together smoothly.  When I saw all of the printed markings on the pipe, I decided to be careful when I glued everything to put the best side up.

Step 5: Glue Up:

In a well-ventilated area, use the PVC primer and cement according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Apply primer to both the outside of the pipe end and the inside of the fitting that it will join.  Apply cement to both the outside of the pipe end and the inside of the fitting and then push the pipe into the fitting, making sure to align the joints to match your dry fit test.  A little twist as you push the pipe into the fitting will ensure that the cement covers the entire mating surface and creates a watertight bond.  The joints will be set after several minutes, but the cement takes longer to fully cure.  I let the bases cure overnight before putting water through them.

Step 6: Cut the Hose:

I had a cheap garden hose that the builder left when they laid the sod for our house.  I cut pieces off to use in other projects, but I still had the ends and 30’ or so of hose.  Using the utility knife, cut the hose into 2 x 14’ lengths and an end that includes the female garden hose connecter.  The end with the connector can be just long enough to fit over the insert fitting, or several feet long like the one I used.  Whatever you have to work with.

The spray heads are designed to throw water in a 15 foot radius.  When the hose is connected and streched out, the spray heads will be about 15 feet apart.  This will give good, even coverage.

Step 7: Thread Connections:

I have read that you really shouldn’t use Teflon tape on threaded PVC joints.  The tape puts extra pressure on the threads that may cause the female fitting to fail over time.  You should actually use pipe thread dope that is formulated for plastic threads.  I found some at the hardware store next to the PVC primer and cement, but decided that the risk of failure of a threaded fitting in this system was low.  More importantly, the effects of a failure would be a small puddle in the grass (as opposed to massive drywall damage, mildew, and other water-related issues if this was inside the home).  I can live with that.

Wrap a short length of tape around the male threads, then screw into the female fitting.  Use a wrench or pliers to snug it up.  Be careful, you can strip the threads out if you really go crazy.

Step 8: Hose Connections:

Slide a hose clamp over the end of each garden hose section and then push the hose over the insert fitting.  Adjust the position of the hose clamp so that it is in the middle of the hose-insert connection and tighten the screw.  Be careful, you can crush the fitting if you really go crazy.

When I started designing this project, I was going to use a PVC fitting that went from a garden hose threaded connector to a 3/4" slip fit.  The hose would be cut to length with a garden hose threaded connector attached to each end.  Then I priced out that option, and found that it was made of unobtainium, since it would have at least doubled the cost of the project.

Step 9: Use:

I don’t think I really need to include how to use this, but I want to be thorough.  Connect the female garden hose connector to the garden hose attached to the spigot.  Spread out the 3 sprinkler heads; the hose connecting them will set the distance.  Turn on the water.  Adjust the direction of the spray.  Sit back and contemplate your next project as your lawn becomes a verdant carpet.

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    I normally don't post on blogs but I had to share this. Kebmoore, your idea is awesome. While trying to configure my own setup, I thought to myself, there has to be an even easier way. I kept digging and digging and found this: http://www.wateringmadeeasy.com/. I refuse to pay $30 to $40 per unit so now I am on a mission to build my own. I am hoping to build each unit for $10.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Here is my version of the watering made easy unit. Everything without the sprinkler cost me about $12.00. With the 52' sprinkler I purchased it came out to $23.00. Here is my cart from Home Depot with list of parts. http://tinyurl.com/q8a7une

    I plan on burying about 5 or 6 of these in different zones. I may even try to join a couple together and try to get two sprinklers going with one connection.

    A little more expensive than Kebmoore solution, but it beats dragging around sprinklers all the time.

    0238C890411500000A700003-attachment-1-PART951427806445408952015033095212514 (2).jpg

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the plans! Just built these today. The only issue I am having is the 1/2" insert/barb is too loose for a 5/8" hose. Water shoots out of the end, even with the hose clamp tightened all the way down. Going to either find some new fittings or try 1/2" ID vinyl tubing.

    Also, anyone building this, be very careful cutting PVC on a miter saw. I had a couple pieces of PVC explode and the plastic shavings are a pain to clean up.



    This is ALMOST exactly what I am picturing to do but I had NO clue what so ever on what fittings to use...

    I really appreciate you listing the parts and most importantly the thread sizes/reducers!

    I didn't want to spend $1,200 on a sprinkler system for the front lawn which isn't huge by most people's standards, I really only need 2 maybe 3 sprinkler heads tops... I think I am going to modify your layout just a little bit but using the spikes as someone recommends. That way I can spike it right next to or beside the bushes so it's not actually "sitting" in the lawn and the shrubbery will hide it to the naked eye.

    I am debating using the hose method that you have and just putting mulch over it so you can't see any hoses, or doing the pipe method and also covering or possibly digging them into the ground a little bit...

    Is it recommended to have the sprinkler head directly above the pipe like you picture or can it come off a 90 degree fitting? IE: I have a piece of straight pipe going parallel to the ground, then a 90 elbow fitting bringing the sprinkler head perpendicular to the ground so it can spray as if it was "buried" in the ground?

    Hope that makes sense.

    Love this community! So many ideas!




    9 years ago

    Great job on your first instructable.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice!

    This could be greatly simplified by substituting metal sprinkler spikes for the PVC fittings. See this link for an example spike. That's what I used wherever I needed to place a pop-up sprinkler on grass. I used a similar setup to yours when I put them on concrete (to facilitate mowing).



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Bad Link

    So, this is not found everywhere (one of the original points)


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, that might have simplified things a bit. On the other hand, the spike is not always a good option. I have a commercial sprinkler that has a spike base, and to set it in place I have to make a pilot hole in the yard with a hammer and a big screwdriver (the subsoil contains a lot of clay). The bases I made allow me to reposition the sprinkler heads by simply pulling on the hose and sliding the heads where they need to go.


    9 years ago on Step 3

    I think you meant 6 x 2" lengths and 5 x 3" lengths right?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Love your sprinkle base. This solved a problem I had. I had three sprinkler heads that were originally on aluminum spikes. The aluminum corroded and broke making them useless, but the heads still worked. I made a slight modification to yours, I changed the end Tees to elbows and feed the water in one leg and out the other. This also eliminates the end caps. This will lower the cost slightly, and works just as well. My heads have 1/2 inch male threads so I used a PVC reducer in the top of the Tee. Also there is no need for thread sealant of any kind and just hand tight will work. After all if it drips a little it is just going to add a few drops to the yard. I am including a photo of mine.
    Thanks for the idea.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for posting your design and for the kind words. I would not have thought to lay out the supporting legs like that, but it looks like it simplified construction. I like it! My sprinkler is still going strong, but if I have to replace one of the base units, I think I might give this a try.

    That is what I love about this community. I got an idea from one person and modified it, and you took that mod and created your own version. Ideas evolve and grow each time this happens.

    An interesting project. i think it would be more practical not to use cap on the two side pvc and use the hose fitting. In this configuration, you could have more flexibility in the position of the sprinkler. I don't know if I've well explain my idea, but if you need more explanation, just contact me.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Flexibility was a consideration, but cost overrode that. The hose fittings would have almost doubled the cost of the materials.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    I thought a lot about the design before I created this. My wife teases me about planning and re-planning things, sketching different designs and taking my time. In this project, all of the planning work paid off when I was able to cut the build time and the material cost to the bare minimum.