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Home Irrigation System Cost Guide

A lawn irrigation system is a way to keep a lawn fresh and green throughout the summer even when the homeowner does not have the time to water it by hand. Hoses and lawn sprinklers are frustrating and time-consuming to use because they will have to be moved multiple times to water the entire yard. However, a lawn irrigation system waters the entire yard automatically once it is installed. Homeowners can choose when the irrigation system turns on and off, helping families save money on their water bills. Anyone considering a new watering system should learn about the costs, necessary materials, benefits and disadvantages of having one of these systems before purchasing it.

The Costs

  • National average minimum cost: $250
  • National average maximum cost: $4,500

The cost for a lawn irrigation system depends on numerous variables. One of the largest factors in determining cost, however, is the size of the yard and the number of zones included. Each zone contains a set of interconnected underground pipes as well as five or more sprinkler heads. A zone is affected by the landscaping, such as trees and shrubs, that is located within it. Obviously, larger yards will require more zones. The materials for each zone will cost an average of $400. 

There are many other cost considerations. Cost depends on whether the lawn has been landscaped. Installing an irrigation system in a bare yard, such as at a newly built house, will cost about $200 less on average than it will to install the system in a landscaped yard. Moreover, there will be additional costs for repairing a landscaped yard after the installation is completed. 

The type of the system and the quality of the parts is another major cost factor. Manual systems cost approximately $100 to $400 less than automated systems do. However, the efficiency of the automated system usually means more water savings over the long term. Systems that have sophisticated timers and electronic controls and additional sprinkler heads will also cost more than basic irrigation systems.

The total expense also depends on where the system is purchased and installed. The parts will usually cost more when purchased in large cities versus rural areas. In addition, lawn irrigation systems cost approximately $900 on average when purchased for a single home whereas systems for apartments or businesses cost approximately $1,500 and $1,300 respectively.

The cost of purchasing the materials is separate from the cost of having the system installed. Installation can be quite expensive. If homeowners choose to install the system themselves, they will certainly save a great deal of money. However, they will most likely need to rent a trench digger. Professional installation will cost more, but the installation company usually backs the work. Professionals will also be able to help design the layout of the system and can help repair lawns where the sod has been removed.

A final cost to consider is the cost to run and maintain the system. Of course, the amount of water the household uses in the summer will increase. Outdoor maintenance in general may increase because of additional mowing, trimming and pruning. Routine maintenance of the irrigation system includes starting up the equipment in the spring and blowing the water out of the pipes in the fall.


Homeowners should make sure that they have all the necessary materials before installing a lawn irrigation system. For the system itself, one will need irrigation tubing, pipes, valves, a valve box, timers and remote controls or control panels. The installer will also need PVC cement and primer if using PVC pipes. Some people choose to install some sprinkler heads along with their drip irrigation pipes. Pop-up spray heads and spray nozzles are typical options.

Necessary miscellaneous parts include a water pressure gauge, drain valves, backflow devices, automatic or surface drains and PVC couplings. Most irrigation systems are sold with necessary wiring. However, some people may need to purchase additional electrical wiring for connecting the control panel to the system. To help with planning the layout of the system, the homeowner may wish to have graph paper for drawing zone maps, a measuring tape for measuring the yard, and paint or flag markers for marking where irrigation pipes or sprinkler heads will be placed.

Other than the materials for the system itself, the individual installing the system will need some additional tools, which he or she may already own:

  • Trench digger
  • PVC pipe cutter
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Shovel
  • Utility knife 

Advantages and Disadvantages

There are few disadvantages to a lawn irrigation system. Most of them are related to the initial price and the cost of routine maintenance. People with large yards that see a great deal of daily sun will find that they need to use a great deal of water each day to maintain the greenness of the grass. Many homeowners do not like the additional expenses of starting up and closing down the system each spring and fall. In addition, if there are any problems with underground pipes or with electrical wiring in the control panel, this unexpected maintenance can be costly and may harm landscaping.

The advantages of a lawn irrigation system typically far outweigh the disadvantages. An irrigation system delivers the water directly to the roots of the grass for great efficiency. Lawns that have these systems are lush and do not need to be reseeded even after the hottest summers. These systems save time as well. Homeowners do not need to drag hoses and sprinkler equipment through their yards each day or waste time changing the position of the sprinkler every hour. Finally, irrigation systems are hidden in the lawn, creating a safe and beautiful environment.

A lawn irrigation system is a fabulous way to keep a lawn healthy while saving the homeowner a great deal of money. Although costs for materials vary around the country, most people feel that the system is well worth the money that they put into it. A lawn irrigation system is a great investment whether the lawn is large, small or extensively landscaped.

Last updated on May 16, 2016

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