How Much Does It Cost To Install A Sprinkler System?

Last Updated on September 1, 2020 by Kimberly Crawford

A luscious lawn is a beautiful accessory that can bring out the best in your home. There is nothing better than going out to your lawn on a hot summer afternoon to have fun with family and friends.

However, installing and maintaining a lawn by yourself is hard work. You might over or underwater your lawn and this can either kill your grass or lead to fungus. The fungus is treatable with a chemical solution that you can buy online or at your local store, but if that doesn’t work out, you will need to call a lawn care professional.

In both instances, your lawn will be affected sometimes to detrimental consequences. That’s why an automatic sprinkler system is a must. Not only would you be able to set it and forget it which gives you the freedom to go on that much-needed trip, but you will always have peace of mind that your garden is getting the exact amount of water that it needs.

A hidden benefit is that a sprinkler system adds direct value to your home. If you have two similar houses next to each other at the same price, but one has a beautiful lawn, which one would you choose? Likely the one with the better lawn.

If you are unsure which sprinkler system will be the right fit, don’t worry. This helpful information will guide you in making the best decision for your lawn.

Why Do You Need a Sprinkler System?

Why Do You Need a Sprinkler System?

A sprinkler system keeps everything green and vivid while only using the water that it needs. This will save you a lot of wasted water. With everything switching over to automatization because of its convenience, a sprinkler system is one of the best things you can get for your lawn.

You will only need to set it once and depending on your model, you may adjust it from your phone. Some days when the weather is too hot you will need to water the lawn twice. Yet, since you are not doing this manually, this shouldn’t matter.

Having the ability to leave your home for a week or a weekend without having to find anybody to water your lawn is also a tremendous advantage. How many couples do you know that can’t get away for vacation because they have no one to take care of their pets?

Owning a sprinkler system fixes three important problems, water wastage, time, and convenience.

Sprinkler System Cost Per Zone

Sprinkler systems are usually divided by zones. A zone is exactly what it sounds like, a zone of grass that needs to be watered. Where it gets complicated is when you have multiple zones, each with different needs.

For example, you might have a lawn up front that is different from the one on the back. The one upfront might be only grass while the one on the back has bushes on the left, and a garden on the right. The lawn, the bush, and the garden are all going to need different amounts of water. This is when you would divide the cost of the sprinklers into zones. On average, a zone will cost from $500-$1000 dollars. The total cost will depend on the quality of the parts, the soil, and how big each zone is.

Sprinkler System Cost Per Acre

Sprinkler System Cost Per Acre

On average a sprinkler system that covers an acre will cost you about $9,849. Again this number could vary depending on the quality of the parts and your current soil. It also doesn’t matter how many acres you own, anybody can benefit from a sprinkler system regardless of the size of your lot.

Sprinkler System Cost Per Square Foot

One acre equals 43,560 feet. Therefore, if you divide $9,849 by 43,560 you get approximately $0.20 per square foot. Again this number could vary from $0.20 to $1 depending on your specific situation.

Types of Sprinkler Irrigation System

1. Traditional Spray Systems

Traditional Spray Systems

There are different types of systems on the market, but by the far, this is the most common type. It uses a pop-up head that can spray the water in a full circle, half-circle, or quarter circle. Although these are the most popular type of system because of their amazing ability to spray a lot of water, it could hurt your lawn if not positioned or calibrated correctly.

These systems are known for spraying too much water. Another issue is that since the sprinkler heads shoot outwards, it doesn’t cover the area that is the closest to the sprinkler head. Therefore, if you are not careful, you will have a dead spot. One simple solution to this is to have two sprinkler heads each covering an area overlapping each other.

These spray systems will set you back anywhere from $1,740 to $3,400 on a residential lawn that is a quarter of an acre. Regardless this system is the most aesthetically pleasing and is the one that brings up the value of your home the most.

2. Drip


If you want to be as water-efficient as possible, then the drip irrigation system is for you. They don’t look as visually pleasing as a traditional spray system since it sits on top of the soil, instead of being hidden underneath.

The system works by having a separate water reservoir or attaching a filter to your water line, that water line then gets connected to large pipes that you will set on specific areas where you want the water to literally drip.

This makes the system so efficient. Instead of spraying the water into the air, it drips straight to your soil, and because it releases the water slowly; it gives your garden enough time to absorb the water properly.

Another added benefit is you not having to worry about the wind conditions. If the wind is too strong and unpredictable where you live, a traditional sprinkler system will have a hard time being efficient.

A drip irrigation system can be super budget-friendly at about $2,150 per acre on average. However, for small homes, it may cost as little as $50 to install. This is because there is no difficult landscaping involved.

3. Soaker Hoses

Soaker hoses are the easiest system to install. They are very cost-effective; the prices range from $20 to $45. This system can’t technically be considered a spray system, but it gets the job done.

Soaker hoses are large hoses with various holes that let the water drip out. Like the drip system, it is a water-saving technique. However, this is not an ideal solution. Not only is the hose a tripping hazard, but it is also not aesthetically pleasing and it will not add value to your home in the long run.

You could buy a smart timer if you want to set it and forget it, but that will affect the cost. Also, if you have a large lawn, the hose will probably not be big enough to cover the whole lawn.

Read also: Best expandable garden hose

4. Rotor Systems

Rotor systems are part of the spray sprinkler irrigation system family, except that the head rotates to reach more land. They also release water at a slower rate, so it uses less water, but gives the same results. In the beginning, they were exclusive to larger lawns like country clubs, but recently rotor systems have been designed to work on smaller home yards.

They are also some of the cheapest professional systems out there with an acre ranging from $1000-$1500 as opposed to traditional spray systems that start at $1,700.

5. Furrow Irrigation

Furrow Irrigation

This is more of a farming technique, but if you want to have a large home garden where you can plant potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, or anything else, this might work best.

In this system, gravity plays a crucial role because you want to elevate the water channels in such a way that all the plants get the water they need by letting the water naturally run its course.

This will let you spray water on the left side of your field or lawn, and because of gravity, the water will automatically arrive at the right side. With a traditional method, you would need to install various heads that hit each plant equally on the left, center, and right side. This eliminates that problem.

This method guarantees a higher crop yield and only costs about $750-$1000, which makes it one of the cheapest irrigation systems.

Above Ground Sprinkler System Cost

Above Ground Sprinkler System Cost

As you might have noticed, systems that sit above ground cost less than underground systems. This is because they are easier to plan and install. One of the obvious reasons why they are easier to install is that you don’t need to do any kind of landscaping for them. You can just install it, put it wherever you want, and not move it again.

While the drip and furrow system can range in the thousands. A soaker hose is extremely cheap. Keep in mind that a soaker hose might not work perfectly for you and doesn’t add value to your home.

Underground Sprinkler System Cost

These are the ones that add value to your home since they are the most efficient, convenient, and aesthetically pleasing. The cost of installing this system will depend on how many zones, the quality of the parts, and if they need to do any kind of landscaping. On average the prices range from $1,740-$3,400 on a 1/4 acre.

With that high price a sprinkler system it’s an investment. However, you may be able to later recuperate your initial expenditure when you sell your home.

Sprinkler System Water Use

Usually, a sprinkler will use 2.75 gallons per minute. The exact amount of water ultimately depends on how many zones you have, and the size of your property. A simple way of knowing an approximation is to calculate the number of minutes by the number of zones equals the total minutes.

Once you have your total minutes you want to multiply that by gallons per minute which is 2.75 and that’s how you get your total. So 15 minutes, twice a week with 4 zones will use 330 gallons. This isn’t an exact formula, but it is a close estimate. How much water you use will also depend on your irrigation system and its specific settings.

Sprinkler System Installation Cost Factors

One of the most important factors is the size of your property. The bigger the lawn, the higher the price. This is because it will require more pipes, more digging, more sprinklers, etc.

The system that you choose influences the price. Like we mentioned, the rotor system is much cheaper than the drip or traditional sprinklers.

The materials used will also decrease or increase the price. If you use cheap parts than you will pay less upfront however, you will need to maintain and replace them more often.

Smart controls can also stack up the price. Smart controls are expensive, but a lot of times it can be adjusted from your phone and it will also change automatically depending on the local weather.

Labor is something that you also need to calculate, typically an installation cost about $42/hour. But high-quality labor is worth it. They are professionals and will make sure to set you up with the best system.

Components of Sprinkler Irrigation System

A sprinkler system usually consists of: a pump unit, main and sub mains tubings, couplers, sprinkler’s head, valves, bends, plugs, and risers. There are also several accessories to make your system even better like a water meter, pressure gauges, or a fertilizer applicator.

Sprinkler System Repair Cost

Sprinkler System Repair Cost

The repair costs about $50-$100 in terms of labor. The good news is that the parts themselves are not expensive and don’t need to be replaced often. For example, replacing a sprinkler’s head is only $2.50 to $18 depending on the quality that you choose. The valve is only $12.50-$40 on average. The bad news is that if you need to replace the whole system that will costs you a little bit more than $2,400. To avoid this, proper maintenance is required.

Sprinkler System Maintenance Cost

Everything needs maintenance. When you buy a car, you need to change the oil, the air filter, the spark plugs. The same is true with a sprinkler system, yet the most important task is fall winterization. Fall winterization is a service performed during fall to ensure that the coming winter and colder temperatures do not cause any damage to your system’s components and piping.

The process involves using compressed air to blow all the extra water out of the system’s main lines, lateral lines, manifold, and solenoid valves. While you can buy your own equipment, you need to deliver an exact amount of air, otherwise, you might cause too much friction and crack your pipes.

To avoid this scenario, it’s better to call a professional. Most companies offer a maintenance plan. The cost depends on the company you choose, but overall the range is between $52-$110.

Install Cost Checklist

Make sure to double-check everything on this list. The price will vary depending on the size of the land, the number of zones, the quality of the parts, labor, and type of soil. Make sure to discuss all of your concerns with your sprinkler company.  

What To Consider Before Buying?

What To Consider Before Buying?

There are other things you need to consider before buying a system. Get an estimate from 3 to 5 companies before deciding on one. Usually, companies offer a free estimate. You want to do this step because some companies might offer the same quality parts, but because one is much smaller than the other, they may offer their services at a higher price.

Another tip is to wait until winter to get an estimate on your lawn. It’s basic supply and demand. If demand rises in the summer for obvious reasons than prices are going to be higher. The same law applies for winter.

Fewer people are going to be looking for an irrigation system since the need is not as obvious in the winter. Also, because of the lack of heat, the water lasts more in the soil and penetrates more.

If you love a company, but their parts are too expensive, try to negotiate a price directly with the supplier. You can call them, visit, or email them. If it doesn’t work out, you only wasted a bit of time, but if it does, you might save a pretty penny.

Should You Hire a Certified Irrigation Installer or DIY Sprinkler System?

Whether you hire someone depends entirely up to you. One obvious benefit of installing the sprinkler system yourself is all the money you would save in labor. If you enjoy challenging projects then this, the perfect job to tackle.

However, if you don’t install the parts properly that can cause a leak underground which will overwater your lawn and drown it. If you mess up, you could destroy all of your lawn and it will cost even more to replace it than a sprinkler system.

A company will cost you more than if you did it yourself, but a professional job will come with a warranty. If they make a mistake, they will correct it. A company will also come with a maintenance plan that can take care of your pipes not only in the winter but also during spring and summer.

If you do it yourself, the challenge, cost-saving, and satisfaction of a job well done are powerful factors. However, security, warranty, and convenience are important elements to consider.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does a Sprinkler System Add Value To Your Home?

The brief answer is yes. The long answer is why. There are four ways a sprinkler system adds direct value to your home. One is personal, while the other three are monetary.

The personal value is the ease and convenience of being able to water your lawn automatically without having to worry about it. Not only is it easy, but it’s efficient as well and your lawn will always get the exact amount of water that it needs.

The first monetary reason is all the water that you will save with a sprinkler system.

The second monetary value is the fact that a sprinkler system is appetizing to new buyers. It is more likely that your home will not sit on the market since it comes with something many people are looking for.

The last monetary value is the obvious one. If you have a sprinkler system installed, you can ask for a higher price since your home comes with added value. And if you already have a beautiful lawn and garden, that beauty can be reflected in the price.

2. Is a Sprinkler System Worth It?

The answer depends entirely up to you. There are pros and cons. Although there is no doubt that a gorgeous lawn speaks for itself.

3. How Much Does It Cost To Install a Sprinkler System Yourself?

The cost relies entirely on the quality of the parts, plus where you get those parts. Aside from that, the only thing that will cost you is your own time and effort.

4. How Long Does a Sprinkler System Last?

The average life expectancy of a sprinkler system is 20 years, but each component has a different life span. For example, an excellent quality head will last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, while cheap ones are only expected to work for 2 to 3 years.

Nozzles should also be replaced every two years, regardless of the quality. Valves, just like the heads, will last 10 to 15 years and some parts like the pipes which are not as fragile are expected to last 40 whole years.

This, again, is with the assumption you are properly maintaining the equipment, but if you are a sprinkler system is an investment that will last you a very long time.

5. How Long Does It Take a Sprinkler To Water 1 Inch?

It will depend entirely on the system that you have, but on average with automatic sprinklers, it’s usually an hour. A big factor that affects this number is heat. If the weather is too hot, then you can expect 1 inch of water to take longer than usual.

There are various types of irrigation systems. You need to pick the one that works best for you. It doesn’t matter which one you choose though, one thing is a given, they will all keep your lawn beautiful.

Keeping Your Lawn Beautiful

There are various types of irrigation systems, but you need to pick the one that works best for you. One thing is certain, it doesn’t matter which one you choose, they can all keep your lawn looking beautiful.

Make sure to compare the prices between companies to get the best deal. Once you hire the company you love, they will take care of everything. After installation, you’ll be left with a low-maintenance lawn that looks beautiful year-round.

sprinkler system installation cost