Thursday Dilemma: Sprinkler Woes

Aaaand we’re back. We’ve had one of those weeks, you know? Cancelled flights, work deadlines, dentist appointments… there’s been a perfect storm of craziness this week to keep us from our typical posting schedule. We’ve got two great posts left this week though to make up for it.

Last week Kevin and I shared our plans to finish our backyard before our big crawfish boil on March 16. A major part of that plan is to install a sprinkler system in the backyard to water all of our soon-to-be new baby grass. With Dallas’ hot, dry summers it would be like throwing money into the wind to lay new sod and not have a sprinkler system to water it consistently (at least, if you’re as forgetful about watering things as we are).


We’ve been planning on DIYing our sprinkler system and started researching the process last week. Here’s what we found.

Designing a sprinkler system will be hard, even for two engineers (one of which deals with piping systems every day… that’s me), so we’ll likely have it professionally designed before building it ourselves. Toro has a free design service for DIYers; all you have to do is send in a detailed sketch of your yard and they design your system and send you a parts list to get you started. TORO-logo.361101658_std

There’s a lot of red tape involved in DIYing your own sprinkler system, too. First, if you haven’t filed your homestead exemption, it’s illegal for a homeowner to DIY their own sprinklers. Even if you have everything on file, you’ll need a couple (expensive) permits, several inspections by the city, and and a professional to complete several parts of the installation, no matter what. I’ve spent hours going over Dallas’ irrigation code trying to decipher what we’re allowed to do, what we have to call a plumber for, and when we have to have the city plumbing inspector come out (a very nice lady, by the way… I’ve already spoken to her twice with questions about the irrigation code).

The alternative is to hire professionals to install our system start to finish. Inevitably this will be the more expensive option, but considering the work involved to DIY everything, we’re not convinced that it might not be worth it in the end. That’s why we’ve called several companies (three, in fact) and asked them to come out and give us an itemized estimate on both grading our yard and installing our sprinkler system.

We’re also going to go ahead and use the Toro design service. This will not only allow us to get a good estimate on how much DIYing the project will cost, but will also give us a check on how much the contractors are charging.

We’re hoping to have all of our estimates in by next week and are going to work on getting our sketches submitted to Toro this weekend.

Have you ever DIYed a sprinkler system? When do you call in the pros? Are you as forgetful about watering the lawn as we are??



13 thoughts on “Thursday Dilemma: Sprinkler Woes

  1. I would definitely be hiring that out. It seems like a very complicated project and if you need that many inspections and a plumber to come out all those times… it seems like it would be worth it. We have sprinklers at our place but they were already installed when we bought it. Shayne and his dad have done some maintenance on them and moved a few heads to accommodate our new fence and they were able to do that but I imagine designing them and starting from scratch is hard!! Good luck!

    ps- glad you’re back : )

  2. We’ve thought about DIYing a raised vegetable garden in the patio (with big wood crates) and if we do, a sprinkler system is definitely in the list. I had no idea it was so hard to DIY though (we haven’t really researched it). So I’m really interested in your estimates and on whether you decide to go the DIY route.

    • I think a smaller one for a garden wouldn’t be too difficult to design. It’s when you get several thousand square feet (like our backyard) that it becomes a nightmare to determine sprinkler head coverage and whatnot.

      PS. There’s a great drip irrigation system for raised gardens on Amazon for about $20 US, but I couldn’t find it on the Spanish site… although I’m just starting to relearn Spanish (one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to become fluent again) so maybe it was my search terms and not the site 🙂

  3. My husband says the hardest part of doing a sprinkler system in Texas is getting through the soil. We have lots of clay! And after reading about all the permits and inspections you’ll need, I say hire it all out.

  4. If it helps, I designed our underground sprinkler system using google sketch up. (Not an engineer but married to one…who helped, a little) Other than a few very minor on the fly adjustments as we installed it’s been PERFECT! It was totally free and very very easy! We also rented a trencher (MUST DO!) Good luck!!!! I’m not going to lie it took a few weeks and lots of man hours to do it. I think my husband spent the most time putting together the joints the actually installation happened pretty quickly!

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