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Question DetailsAsked on 4/29/2013

how much does a lawn irrigation system cost?

We have a large home, and often times I feel that companies raise their price when they see our house. We are only wanting an irrigation system for our front yard, which is not very large (sounds like 15 sprinklers will cover it). we've had one estimate for $2500 and another landscaper thought it should cost about $1500. if you can tell me what your square footage is, how many sprinkler heads you have, etc. would really appreciate getting an idea of how much this should cost

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14 Answers

Voted Best Answer

One of the more difficult issues facing you will be making sure you compare apples 'n apples while understanding the differences between apples 'n oranges.

Some things common to all:

How far from your (water) meter pit to the home?

Do you know what sort of water pressure you have?

Those two questions sortta drive the rest. How many sprinklers you have is a piece of the puzzle but it is lower on the issues list than how much water pressure and gallons per minute of flow (gpm) you have. Knowing the water pressure and gpm coming to the house is important because it is the info divided by the flow rate of the heads to tell you how many you can run at a time.

That, plus the number of heads it takes to cover your yard will let them decide on how many zones to cut the yard into (each zone is X number of heads that run at the same time).

Will the different estimates be for systems that are all parts from a single manufaturer or will it be a collection of brands? Some will tell you that the parts (controller, back-flow, heads and even specific heads) are better from different manufacturers while others will tell you that all from a single manufacturer will give you an optimized system.

And, are the contractors equally certified? Not only education and experience but certifications from the various manufacturers who's parts they want to use. And, will their installations be the same? Will they open trenches all around your yard and be a week getting the stuff layed, connected and back-filled? Or, will they pull the flexible pipe and be in 'n out in one day with water flowing to cover their intrussion before they leave that day?

Will your system need to be blown out with pressurized air at the end of the season to avoid winter freeze and bursts or will it drain automagically?

I know, I took your simple question and made it hard.

When I bought my system about 9 years ago, I had a variety of estimates and the differences sortta fell into the mess I listed above. The low estimate was a person who seemed to be from the "get it in the ground and fix it later" school.

The highest estimate was from someone who seemed more concerned about my yard and the final result than I was. The low person was using parts 'n pieces from a variety of manufacturers. The high person was certified by the company that made all the parts he was wanting to use and he carried a fairly high rating from them for his past performance.. He would vary for me if I wanted but he had sound reasons from the controller to each of the heads as to why he preferred his "brand".

It doesn't look like you are a member of Angie's List. Given the size of the investment you are looking at, this might be a great time to join and see how others in your community have rated the contractors you are considering or if there is one you should add to your list.

My yard is between 12 and 15,000 square feet less the house, deck, two mini-barns and it is interrupted with a number of blocking (blocks the stream of water) evergreens and planting beds.

The low estimate I had was about $2,500 and would take three days to put in from the time they began to trench. I don't recall how many heads he wanted to put in but if it was off, he'd be able to put another anyplace and tie it to the nearest zone to give me good coverage. Uh, this was the get it in the ground 'n adjust later person.

The high estimate I had was around $4,500. This proposal was for seven active zones each having 5 to 7 heads. There was enough capacity (extra zone controllers and space within the system controller) built in to add drip irrigation at a later date for the planting beds without having to replace anything. He drew the entire yard and gave me a copy with the heads marked showing the "throw" of each and the overlap he built in to avoid any missed areas. And, they wanted to arrive in the morning and leave that evening with the system watering to cover their tracks throughout the yard. One day and they would not leave until it was working as advertised!

I took the high estimate. I have a neighbor who bought from the other folks. Both of us are happy. He is really happy because each time he calls his company for adjustments or corrections (yep, they got it in the ground and are still putzing with it) they are out within the week, they are really easy to do business with and their service calls' costs haven't gone up a whole bunch.

Sorry, you can't look at the price and divide by X number of heads and have a fair comparison.

Answered 9 years ago by Old Grouch


IN addition to what OG carefully explained, "Sorry, you can't look at the price and divide by X number of heads and have a fair comparison", it depends on your geographical location. Granted a big fancy house may generate higher estimates, but "large home" is relative. Labor costs in some states are considerably less than in others.

Who & how was it determined that 15 sprinklers are adequate? maybe overkill. Do estimates include a drip system for foundation landscape shrubs or deep watering for trees? You gotta compare apples to apples.

We look forward to specifics as we plan to have old pipes and sprinkliers removed and replaced and are obtaining estimates

Answered 9 years ago by tessa89


No idea. I've never watered a lawn and I never will.

Answered 9 years ago by Commonsense


Mike is correct about all the variables. We had our sprinkler system re-done after Hurricane Andrew in '92. The system comes off a deep well used for irrigation only. The front yard has twelve Nelsons and cost over $2K fourteen years ago. However, So. Fla. is built on coral rock and to trench even 3 or 4 inches under the grass is a major feat. They also had to tunnel under a circular driveway in two places. I suppose if you trench through actual dirt, it might cost less. Whatever you do, I would recommend PVC pipe all the way unless you can't use it where you live because of the climate. Anything other than that rots down here. Good luck.

Answered 9 years ago by michelemabelle


OK - sorry, I live in Indiana - I guess I wasn't realizing this board is all over the place.....

We had 3/4 of our yard done for $2600. I think we ended up with about 30 heads (more than thought before since we did the sides of our house too).

We did pop up sprays in our plant beds and rotators in the lawn. Our property is about 1/3 of an acre.

I feel for the post up there about not watering lawns at all. That was our approach this year before adding the sprinkler and we had very patchy fescue grass compared to our next door neighbor who has the perfect Kentucky Blue Grass lawn..... I think if we hadn't done something our homeowner's association would have come after us...... but we do believe in conserving water.

Answered 9 years ago by WindyRocksIndy


The sprinkler system cost is determined by the size of the lawn and not the size of the house. Many large houses sit on top of very small lots with very little landscaping. Now sprinkler system should be designed based on your current water needs for the type of lawn and plants that you need to water. For example, the State of TX require anyone installing a sprinkler system to be licensed. This usually ensures that you will get a proper irrigation design and installation using best practices for water conservation.

The price variation that you may be experiencing is usually due to cutting corners or simply putting up sprinkler heads and having rotors water large areas over sidewalks. Many cut corners by watering turf (grass) and landscape beds. This is not usually recommended as different plants have different water requirements. Many of this practices are outright illegal and any responsible homeowner should not consider this type of installation.

Professional Sprinkler Installers will consider the following and give you a price based on your specific irrigation needs.

1. Size of the Area Needing Water - More Landscaping will require more stations. The more sprinkler stations needed, the more valves required, the larger the controller need for the installation. Of course, square footage will determine the amount of pipe needed and the amount of digging involved.

2. Water Pressure - Low water pressure results in the need for more sprinkler stations.

3. Tree Root System - In some older homes with large trees, the root system is extensive. The more roots there are, the harder it is to dig the trench. Of course, that will increase the labor hours required to complete the installation.

4. Location and Accessibility of the Water Meter - Not a big factor for most homes. However, occasionally you run into a situation where the water meter is surrounded by lots and lots of concrete floor. There are only two options to reach the water meter. The first option is to dig. The second option is to demolish the concreted area. Again, this is very rare in a residential sprinkler installation.

5. Type of pipe on the Main - Some older homes have copper piping. When that is the case, you need to convert to PVC piping, and that will add some cost. Not a big factor on the overall installation cost, but it will add cost when compared to a normal installation.

When investing in a sprinkler system, it is usually best to find a license irrigator that follows local laws and best installation practice for the industry. The prices may not be the cheapest but you will usually experience less headaches in the life of the sprinkler system

Good Luck!
Houston Sprinkler Company


Answered 8 years ago by HoustonProServices


I had a new system installed last year and there are many of variables so the price can vary a lot. In Atlanta, water is very expensive so I was concerned about water efficiency. Some of the heads, valves and control panels are not very water efficient - they pump out a lot of water and a lot of it evaporates before it hits the ground or runs off. Applying too much water, too fast, or not the optimal spray pattern will waste water. Solar sensors are a good investment. Some sensors will just turn off the system when is raining. Other sensors are smarter - they adjust the run time based on the amount of sun and humidity - which varies through the season.

In Atlanta, watering your lawn every other day can easily add $100-200+/month to your water bill. Don't skimp on the equipment and then pay dearly for wasted water for the next 20 years.

Another factor is existing lawn or new lawn. I was having new sod installed at the same time so I didn't mind trenching. But if you are adding a system to an existing lawn, you don't want it all torn up so they will need to use a machine to install the pipe by slicing through the sod and pulling the pipe underground. They will still need to do some digging to hook up to the water supply and to install the valves. In addition, if they have to tunnel under concrete, this will add to the cost.

Most of the companies quote per zone, not per spray head. My front yard has around 20 heads and 4 zones. With the high end equipment, pressure reducing valve, sensors, installing some drainage pipe for my downspouts, it was around $4K. The company offered 3 packages with different options, warranties, etc. I went with the top package.

Answered 7 years ago by Guest_95566121


I want to address the cost based on size of house. I have definitely encountered this having lived in two upscale neighborhoods in the Dallas, TX area. My realtor recently explained to me that in buying a smaller house in a lesser neighborhood, I will not get charged as much for work as for when I lived in a big house. You are right about that. I have not had a sprinkler system put in in many years but have work done on it all the time because the yard people mow over heads all the time.

Answered 7 years ago by Guest_92498505


I live in NC and am in the process of installing my own. I have a large yard and a well, so GPM and pressure are low and I need lots of zones and lots of sprinkler heads. I have about an acre of grass right now. I started by sending some information to Rain Bird and for free they sent back a design plan that has worked well for me. I started by putting in the basics: a backflow preventer, 12-zone control unit, main shut off and drain valves and tie-in to the water main. I do not have to worry about permits, extra meters, or other costs because I have a well. Just to get this far I paid around $1200 for the basics and 3 zones, buying everything from Home Depot and Lowes. I will add the remaining 9 zones over time, but those costs will be about $100 per zone. It's a little more this way because I am renting a trencher each time and those are expensive here. But I like doing it over several months/years because I am still playing around with where the boundary of the lawn will be. When finished I expect my total cost will be about $2200. Before I started I got three estimates from the pros that came in around $4000-5000. It has been a year since I started and I am happy with the results. Hope this helps.

Answered 7 years ago by MarkF


One major downfall of a sprinkler system is that you have a huge up front expense. You have permit fees. You need a plumber to tap into your water main and install your sprinkler supply valve and your backflow preventer. The backflow preventer itself can cost several hundred dollars. Where your main is tapped may not be near where your valve box is located so you have piping installed acrosss to the other side of your house and through your foundation to get to to your valve box. You are paying for your timer and your valve box and manifold up front also. All this is all before one sprinkler head is installed.

Another thing to think about is that sprinkler systems need regular maintenance to operate at their peak performance. So you have two choices. Either you are going to pay someone to perform that maintenance for you. Or you are going to have a new hobby. Me personally, I enjoy my new hobby and feel great accomplishment when my system is tuned perfectly. You may not want to be so hands on and will have the regular expense of paying somebody to do it for you.

Also if you live in a cold climate, don't forget that you have to have your system winterized every fall.

Answered 7 years ago by Steve0512



Answered 6 years ago by Guest_9364846


I'm going to be paying $5400 for an underground system for about 7,700 square feet of sod with a 75' x 126' plot. This is being installed in conjunction with new sod for a house that is newly constructed. I think he is quoting something like 15 larger sprinkler heads and 9 smaller... but I'll have to recheck my contract to see exact info. He is using PVC and installing an automatic programming box (or whatever it's called) in my garage. I do have enough water pressure to avoid having to buy a booster, but as others have said, there are so many variables... it's best to get someone who is on Angie's List and get good reviews for your area (I did). The area you're in, the kind of soil you have, your existing plants and grass and how your guy has to "work around" areas that are not straight rectangles or squares seems to be an issue. For example, I have several lilac bushes on one side, so he's asking my landscaper to mulch that row so that he isn't trying to water in between them. Also, if you are installing on existing sod (not laying in new sod), it's much more expensive. I'm in a mid-size town (Peoria, IL) with clayish soil and variable Midwestern weather (up to 100 in summer and down to about 0 or so degrees in the worst of winter). When you have yours installed, make sure that they show you how to SHUT DOWN your system so you don't blow any pipes when they freeze. The company that is putting mine in has self draining pipes and I only have to shut down one part inside my house (and drain a few gallons of excess water) to winterize. Here is the website of the Angie's List approved company that is doing my work (below). Good luck!


Answered 6 years ago by dubliners099


Consider the complexity of the control system. My high-rise apartment condominium got quotes for sprinkling systems from three vendors. All specified the same brand of control system and the same number of heads, so the manager assumed they were equivalent. Well such systems vary in cost because of the number of heads and zones about 10 to 1 (highest to lowest). Our front yard has a large area protected from sun and wind, and aonother exposed to sun and wind, and a third in-between. We have set the entire project aside until we can take a more careful look at it, define our needs, and then get comparable bids.

Answered 5 years ago by Guest_9657317


for an area of about 2500 sq.feet what would be your estimate?

Answered 5 years ago by Bekie


He wants to put in 9 zones

These includes labor & materials

Answered 3 years ago by Riverrace

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