DIY Network

How to Program a Sprinkler System

Learn how to water a lawn even when nobody's home by installing a programmable irrigation system.

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installing a programmable irrigation system
  • Time

    30 Minutes

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Decide How Often to Water

Before selecting the frequency of your watering schedule, check local restrictions for watering to make sure you're following local codes. On the system controller, start by selecting the days that you intend to water. In our case, we chose a cycle of watering for Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Turn the dial to each of those days and select either ON or OFF for each designated day.

start by selecting days to water

Step 2: Set a Time Limit

Next, select the watering duration for each zone. In our case, Zones 1 and 2 are rotor heads, so they will run for 30 minutes each. Our zone 3 has continuous spray heads (twice the precipitation as rotor heads) so this zone will only have to run half as long as Zones 1 and 2. Set the clock to read 15 minutes. Zone 4 consists of micro-sprayers (continuous) so this zone will also run for only 15 minutes.

select watering duration for each zone

Step 3: Set the Date and Time

Now it's time to program the start time. In our case, the homeowner wants to water the lawn at 3:00 a.m. on the designated days, so the clock time is forwarded to that hour (Image 1). Finally, set the date and time of day (Image 2). To ensure no steps are omitted, consult and carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions printed on the control box.



  • Sprinkler heads and components from Rain Bird Sprinkler Mfg. Corp.