Tag Archives: landscape design

How to Design A Landscape Sprinkler Irrigation System like a Pro!

Whether you’re a professional landscaper or want to irrigate your own yard, this free Landscape Sprinkler System Design Tutorial is designed to take you step-by-step through the process of creating a professional-quality sprinkler irrigation plan, layout, or drawing.

There are lots of Sprinkler Design Guides, Why This one?

  • This tutorial works with ALL sprinkler products and does not base your design on the use of a single manufacturer or store’s products.   Most tutorials will force you into using specific products on your plan.  Sometimes they are good products, sometimes not.   Bonus: This tutorial will teach you how to spot the really bad irrigation products.
  • This tutorial assumes you know nothing about irrigation and breaks it all down for you (but the beginner stuff is easily skimmed over for those more experienced.)
  • This tutorial is multi-level.  Many of the topics start with a outline of the topic, then expand on that outline in detail for those who need more explanation.  Finally some subjects then move on to cover special situations or layout that are not “typical” for those who need that additional insight.  So while some tutorial pages are long, you may not need to actually read a lot of it.  Unless you are a future irrigation professional and interested in learning all about irrigation, which leads us to the next point…
  • This guide is complete.  It is used by colleges to teach irrigation design courses, and we encourage that use.   However, it is written using 6th grade level English, so don’t panic.  If you were ever a broke college student you can probably appreciate the idea of a free online textbook!  Speaking of free…
  • This tutorial is free.   Yes there are some ads, along with a few “tips” they pay the cost of keeping it online.  The ads on this site are low key.  No flashing ads, no pop-ups (except the “we use cookies” pop-up notice that is required by law.)
  • If you have a well and/or pump this is one of the only sprinkler system design guides available anywhere (including those $$$ books for sale at stores) that will show you how to correctly design your system so that it will not destroy your pump by making it cycle or run dry.
  • Thousands of people have used this tutorial to create their irrigation systems drawings.  This tutorial has been online a while, the first version was written back in 1995.  You may find an error or two in it (especially in the grammar, it was written by an irrigation expert, not an English major) but most of the technical errors have been found and corrected long ago.  Tons of feedback have resulted in rewrites of the parts that were not clear.   The advantage of being online is that the tutorial does get constantly updated to incorporate new products, ideas, and methods.
  • This tutorial was written by a professional irrigation designer and licensed landscape architect who has over 35 years experience designing irrigation for everything from small tract yards to golf courses.  More on the author at the bottom of this page.

Warning:  There are lots of online tutorials and this one may not be your choice and that’s fine.   However there are a number of design guides around, both online and in stores, that use outdated design methods.  Please watch out for these major design errors that may lead to very expensive repairs:

  • Beware of measuring flow with a bucket or gauge.  The “GPM” value for your new sprinkler system should be based on the size of the existing water supply pipe running to your house.  Some do-it-yourself sprinkler system guides have you measure water flow by turning on an existing faucet and timing how long it takes to fill a bucket.  Some also suggest using a special gauge that measures the flow.  Regardless of how you measure the flow, we now know that just measuring the flow from a faucet results in major errors that can result in your using a irrigation system flow that is way too high for your house’s plumbing to handle.  When you turn on a faucet the water from it will often flow out at a rate that is way higher than what is safe for the pipe’s in your house.  While running water for a few minutes at this flow to fill a bucket is relatively harmless, running a sprinkler system at that flow on a regular basis is not.  This unsafe high flow results in  “water hammer” and “scrubbing” damage to the pipes, two very expensive problems that can destroy the pipes in your house.  We are talking thousands of dollars to re-pipe your house!  The key here is that when determining the water supply volume the pipe size must be a factor considered.
  • Sprinklers should have almost 100% overlap.  If a sprinkler layout guide shows you coverage arcs that are not going almost all the way from one sprinkler to the next it is based on the old way of doing things back before we had low-flow sprinklers to conserve water.  Almost all experts now agree that there should be near 100% overlap of sprinklers.   Back in the old days we just told people with dry spots to run the sprinklers longer.  That over-watered 90% of the lawn but it greened up the dry spots.   We now know it wastes water and even worse, over-watering causes lots of landscape diseases!

All the information you need to create a sprinkler system design for your lawn, shrubs or garden is in this landscape sprinkler design manual. Illustrations, charts and spreadsheets will help explain and simplify the sprinkler irrigation design process. You will learn about lawn sprinklers, shrub sprinklers, and how to select a quality sprinkler head. Automatic and manual valves, controllers/timers, and the basic hydraulics that apply to watering systems are also covered.

Most of the pages of the tutorial are written as stand-alone articles, so that they will be useful to those who do a search for specific information.  For this reason there is a small amount of repetitive material throughout the tutorial.

Continue reading How to Design A Landscape Sprinkler Irrigation System like a Pro!

How Far from a Fence Should Sprinklers be Installed?

Q. How far should the sprinkler line be from a wooden fence? Im gonna run lines next to a wooden fence all around the perimeter of my backyard. Fence is about 8 feet tall.

A. There are several issues here that come to mind.  Most of this applies to walls as well as fences.

If your are using a trencher or [plow to install pipe the machine will likely not get closer than 18 inches to the fence.  I would stay even further away, maybe as much as 3 feet.  Both of these machines have a tendency to slip from side-to-side or get out of alignment when operated, especially by a inexperienced non-pro.  You don’t want the machine to go through the fence.

Future maintenance:
One issue here is future maintenance should you need to dig up the pipe for a repair.  You want enough room that you aren’t whacking the shovel handle (or your shoulders) against the fence if you need to dig.  That would mean at least a foot of distance from the fence.  Maintenance of the fence is another issue.  If you spray water on the fence it will shorten the life of the fence, not to mention leaving ugly water stains on it.  It is near impossible to remove water stains from a fence.

Sprinkler Heads and Water Stains on the Fence:
The sprinkler heads should probably be about a foot minimum from the fence.  The closer they are, the more water they will get onto the fence.  The water will
stain the fence and also shorten the fence life.  To keep the water off the fence completely means the sprinklers have to be very far from the fence, typically at a minimum 24″ away for spray type, 36″ for the larger radius rotors.  There are variables that impact that distance they need to be away from the fence.  Different sprinklers have different amounts of accuracy as to the edge of the water pattern.  Impact type rotors often spray a lot of water to the side, outside the normal watered area, thus they need to be very far away.  In fact, with impacts I would say that you are not going to keep the fence from getting wet, period (unless you keep the head farther away than the radius of the impact sprinkler!)  Also wind plays a huge factor in blowing water onto the fence.

Don’t Plant Lawn Next to a Fence!
When I want to keep a fence dry I plant a minimum 3 foot wide strip along the fence with shrubs and water them with drip irrigation (or use shrubs that don’t require irrigation).  That way I can keep sprinkler watered lawn at least 3 feet from the fence so the sprinklers are at least 3 feet away.  If the area is windy I go with 5 feet distance.

Generally it is considered bad landscape design to put a lawn next to a fence, unless it is an extremely attractive fence that you want to be a focal point of the landscape!  Standard practice is to “buffer” the appearance of the fence with a shrub planter along the base of the fence.