DIY Network

Installing Irrigation: Completing the Plan

Learn about sprinkler head options and the best places to place them in a yard.

More in Outdoors

divide lawn into zones
  • Time

    2 hours

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Choose the Best Sprinklers for the Lawn

After reviewing some of the options for sprinkler heads, this demonstration is using three types of sprinklers for installation:
4-inch pop-up rotor sprayers (gear-driven), with a throw of about 40 feet (Image 1), used in larger lawn areas; 4-inch pop-up continuous sprayers, with a throw of about 15 feet (Image 2), used in smaller areas that include both lawn space and flowerbeds; 12" continuous micro-sprayers (Image 3) for the shrubs and flowerbeds

Step 2: Determine the Sprinkler Patterns

After you've chosen the sprinkler head types, begin visualizing where to place them in your lawn. If your sprinkler has a throw of 15 feet, take a piece of rope and cut it 15 feet in length. Tie a loop in one end and drive a screwdriver through the loop and into the ground. Step back, pulling the rope taut, and walk the circumference to get an idea of where the sprinkler pattern will reach. The main goal for optimum water coverage is called "head to head" coverage — that is, the sprinkler pattern from one head should reach the next sprinkler head. Put your plan on paper and plot out where the sprinkler heads should go.

determine sprinkler patterns

Step 3: Divide the Lawn Into Zones

After marking the lawn with landscaping flags to get a better idea of watering coverage, you're ready to begin drawing out the details. Next, divide your lawn into zones. Each watering zone will run independently from the other zones, so choose the zones that require the same water amounts and watering times. In our project, we divided our lawn into four zones:
Zone 1 is the right side of the larger portion of the lawn
Zone 2 is the left side of the larger portion of the lawn
Zone 3 is the smaller area of lawn on the other side of the sidewalk
Zone 4 consists of the shrubs and flowerbeds next to the house

Step 4: Place the Sprinkler Heads

Start by placing the larger sprinkler heads with the greatest throw and patterns of 360 degrees. This will cover most of the lawn, but there are still areas that won't get water, so those areas will need to be "filled in." Place smaller sprinkler heads along hard lines — such as driveways, property lines and/or streets. These sprinkler heads will have a 180-degree pattern. Try to position these heads so there is a slight overlap. This ensures maximum watering coverage. Do the same thing for all remaining zones. Once all the sprinkler head locations have been finalized, carefully measure the distances between all of them using a measuring wheel and transfer than to the scale drawing. This now will become the blueprint for the installation.

place the sprinkler heads




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