DIY Automatic Lawn Sprinkler

image Another one from the old Reader files…

When I lived in Sherwood Park, a family down the road had sprinklers built into their front lawn.   I thought it was the neatest thing.  They had a set of switched under the kitchen sink that would flip on the sprinkler sets and away they went; watering the lawn at their whim.

Now that I’m a bit older, and have my own house, I can finally have the lawn sprinkler that I thought was so darn cool!

Except that it costs just short of an arm and a leg.

Enter the DIY lawn automation system.  Instead of running hose and pipe underground, you run inexpensive hoses around your yard (in your garden, through bushes, etc) and plant some sprinkler heads in some places where you can obtain good coverage.  Attach it to a timer that controls a valve, and you’re set!

 This could work really well for my yard.  The sides of my house never seem to have a problem getting and staying green (they’re in the shade a lot), but my front and back yards tend to get the heat of the sun – then I can’t seem to water them enough, and I usually wind up with a brown weedy lawn.  Not exactly fun play-time material for the little one.

So, for the back, I could place a sprinkler under each corner of the deck, and let it overshoot from side to side a bit – like set the angle of coverage to be a little over 90 degrees.  I could also put one right in the middle, again under the front lip of the deck, and set it for 180 degrees, but that’s likely to cover my neighbors' lawn too.

For the front, if I were OK watering my sidewalk (which drains into the lawn to a point), 1 at each corner of the house would do the trick (since there’s a garden all across the front, except for the front step).

In total, that’s 4 sprinkler heads, and probably less than 100’ of hose to run it all.  Combine that with some sort of automation, and you’ve got yourself a green lawn.

I read through the comments on the original Lifehacker thread, and there were a few suggestions:

  • Get and use some plumber’s tape around the connections at the house.  These connections are always “on” since the valve is in the automation piece. (this is sound – mine leak, they always have leaked, and I’ve never been at a home where I’ve had to water something using the outside connections that didn’t leak).
  • If water pressure is low, consider buying 2 timers (I don’t know if this is the case for me.  I 2 faucets on the house; one at the front, one at the back.  I don’t think 1 could run 4 sprinklers, but 2 may be able to run 2 each – either way, I am buying 2).
  • Buy a good sprinkler – don’t get cheap (There are some that are plastic that have a relatively narrow stem.  These kinds tend to move as the sprinkler operates.  You’d almost want one that had a really broad blade on 2 or more sides of the stem)
  • Roll your own timer.  This is above my current skillset, but if you could, you could probably save some coin and add some nice features, like a means of disabling a cycle if it has rained in a certain amount of time.

There are some pretty bad-ass timers out there, but just like any automation project, it all depends on what your budget can afford!