The idea of an in-ground irrigation system appeals to a lot of people. An automated machine to water your lawn so you don’t have to! And a well-installed irrigation system really does take a lot of the worry and hassle out of watering, which can only result in better grass.
So let’s assume you have decided that an in-ground irrigation system is the next step you want to take towards your ideal lawn. You’ll want a good quality one, and you don’t want to pay more money than you need to. Here are the questions you need to ask, and some advice you can use when choosing the best inground irrigation installer near you.
1) Pick an installer who understands what you are irrigating and why.
A lawn dominated by a mature maple tree has very different needs than one that has a wildflower garden instead, and different again from an all-turf lawn in the city than an acreage in the country. You want an irrigation system that properly hydrates all your plants – not one that just gets them wet. Since we are a lawn & tree care company and used to operate an irrigation installation division, we’ve studied the water needs of grasses and trees for over 30 years. So we know what questions to ask to learn what results you should expect, and we have the experience to know what setup will best benefit your grass and other plants so you get those results.
2) Make a plan for the lawn and garden you want to have.
Irrigation is a big investment so if you are planning to do landscaping make sure you and your installer are planning your sprinklers for what will be growing, not just what is growing right now. Now its the time to lay the groundwork for future needs.
Your lawn irrigation installer should warranty their work for at least 2 years if they are also maintaining the system, but the manufacturers of the piping, heads, valves, and control boxes all offer generous warranties for their products – quality lasts. An average budget for a typical suburban lawn and for a good quality system near Toronto will cost about $3500.00-$4500.00 including all parts and labour.
4) Work with your local sprinkler installer to come up with a plan that meets your budget and needs.
A lot of things influence what an irrigation installation will cost:
- The number of Zones: that is the number of regions that can be independently adjusted and turned on and off from the controller (and all controllers will allow for smartphone control)
- The type of head, and number of heads and rotors: Rotors are for larger areas and spray heads are for smaller areas, but they both deliver vastly different amounts of water over a given period of time. The more sprinkler heads you have, the finer your control over the shape of the irrigated area an the amount of water it will receive. This can drive cost and complexity up quickly.
- The depth of the buried pipe: deeper pipe is safer from damage but takes more time to install. A minimum depth of 8 inches or more is sensible, good workmanship and industry standard!
- The installation of valve boxes: properly installed valve boxes will make the long-term durability of your system less stressful by both protecting key valves and components, and making them easier to service. Spending a little more here for durability and security will save you and your installer a lot of headaches over the life of your system.
- The controller: irrigation technology is progressing rapidly and so are the laws that govern water use and efficiency. Make sure your controller allows you to conserve water, is expandable, and can be upgraded with newer enhancements as the need arises.
- Accessibility: Making sure the water can be shut off from outside saves money when a repairman can access the plumbing easily. Placing your controller outside allows your repair pro to make changes without you being home to allow access into the garage or going in and out of your home to get to the basement.
- Planning ahead: being aware of sources of long-term wear and tear on a system and planning to minimize them in the initial design. Choosing a more durable stainless steel component over a plastic one in a hard-to-service area or placing a valve box slightly farther away to ensure runoff is not going to collect in it and freeze over the winter. Moving things up a notch here and there at the beginning can save you a lot later.
The saying “pay now or pay later” really applies. Professional installers can make an entire business on repairing systems installed for $1500.00- $2500.00 that need expensive upgrades and repairs to the system, let alone the costly problems poor watering causes to the plants while inadequate and improper watering promotes turf insects and diseases, all caused by an inferior system.