Sprinkler and Drip Equipment Installation

This page provides links to several “Installation Details.”   These details show the installer what the finished installation should look like for various components of the irrigation system.  They are essentially a statement of expected quality.  Not all of these details drawings will apply to every irrigation system.  Use them as a guideline.

You can modify these details as needed to fit your project.  Most of these details were created for very high quality irrigation systems, and so if you are a homeowner they may in some cases be over-kill.  A word of warning however.  High quality, even on a residential system, is not always a bad thing!  There is generally a good reason for everything that is labeled out on these details.  Before changing things it is advisable to seriously consider why they are drawn as they are. For instance, many details call for the use of metal pipe above ground level. This might seem to be a waste until you consider that plastic pipe becomes extremely brittle and easily breaks in just a few years when it is exposed to sunlight! Along the same line of thought, most of these details show galvanized steel pipe when metal pipe is needed.  In some cases it may be advisable to use brass or copper pipe in place of galvanized. This would be a very good idea if you have soils with a high salt content or if your sprinkler system is within a few miles of the ocean. Salt, moisture, and steel pipe do not get along very well.  Have you ever noticed how corroded and rusted exposed steel surfaces are near the beach?

The Detail Drawings:

Professional Designer and Installers

The rest of this page is dedicated to those of you who are considering becoming a professional irrigation system designer or installer.


In the irrigation industry these little drawings are called “installation details,” often abbreviated as simply “details.”  A typical set of plans for a sprinkler system might have a dozen or so of these little Installation details included with it.  I’ve seen plan sets with 100 or more installation details covering everything down to the smallest part of the system.

Designers: Show the Result, Not the Method

These drawings show the installer what type of materials to use and how they should be installed relative to each other.  They do not show the contractor HOW to install them.  The industry standard is that the designer never tells the contractor how to do the work, only what is expected in the finished product.  If you as a designer tell the contractor how to do the installation, then you may be partly liable if someone is injured during the work.  So let the contractor decide how to get it installed, you just tell him what the finished product should look like.  As you look at these detail drawing you will notice they specify materials to use (types, sizes, brands, model numbers, etc.) and placement (depths and distances from other components.)   They never tell the contractor “how” to do the job or the method to use to achieve that look.  (ie; never say “dig a hole 24″ deep using a spade-type shovel.”  That would be telling the contractor how to do the job.)

Installers: Compliance with Details is not Optional

Over the years I have encountered many inexperienced contractor/installers who for some reason thought the plans were just a technicality, a “rough guideline.”  They didn’t think they needed to follow them.  So they figured they could just do their own thing.  If you are an installer and you are given a set of plans, you probably also signed a contract, and the fine print in that contract says you agree to install the system as shown on the plans.

Installers: Demand Clarifications, Don’t Ignore Errors

If you are given a set of plans for installation and you don’t agree with something on those plans or think there is an error, ask for clarification!  Never proceed with the installation if you think the designer made an error.  If you do install something you know is wrong you may become liable for that error and made to fix it at your own expense!  Even worse are the installers who just toss the plans out and do their own thing.  If you just install the system the way you want to and ignore the plans and installation details you probably will not get paid for the work!  In fact you may have to pay damages to the property owner.   Most of the standard contract forms used by professionals in the landscape and irrigation industry are carefully written by attorneys based on case law.   Over the course of my 35 year career I have seen dozens of contractors forced into bankruptcy and lose everything, simply because they did not follow the plans and installation details for a project.  They were all offered the opportunity to correct the problems, but most simply couldn’t afford to remove it all and replace it.  This is especially true of big commercial jobs like shopping centers.  The developer of that shopping center doesn’t know you, is not your friend, and won’t have a second thought about taking everything you own.  So if you think there is an error on a set of plans always state your concerns to whomever you are working for and ask for clarification.  Don’t be the fall guy, protect yourself!

This article is part of the Sprinkler Irrigation Installation Tutorial Series
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