If you’re someone who spends a lot of time manicuring your landscape so your perennial and annual flowers thrive and look beautiful all year round, you may want to look into a sprinkler system cost to automate a lot of the watering processes. Modern systems allow you to quickly and easily zero in on your yard’s ideal watering time while making sure you don’t overwater or underwater anything. This adds a layer of convenience while taking a lot of stress off your mind if you decide to go on vacation and don’t want to miss watering your plants. Depending on the model you choose, your sprinkler installation cost can be more expensive, but it can help pay for itself relatively quickly.
Long-term utility savings, water conservation, and boosting your home’s curb appeal are all benefits that can help offset the sprinkler system cost. Additionally, one system can last for years with minimal maintenance. Your total cost will depend on your yard size and the quality levels for the materials you choose. Bigger yards will need bigger systems, so it makes sense that you would pay more to get full coverage around your flowers or vegetable gardens.
If you want to figure out your sprinkler system cost, the average amount of money you’ll spend to cover a half-acre with professional installation is $5,500. The range starts at $2,000 and goes up to $10,000, so this isn’t a cheap project you can throw together in a day. If you want to install a system on a quarter of an acre, your sprinkler system cost will range between $1,700 and $3,500. For a full acre lot, your costs can go over $10,000 when all is said and done.
Since this is a nice amount of money for anyone to spend on a single project, we’re going to outline the biggest cost factors associated with installing a new sprinkler system. This way, you’ll be able to run down the list and see which ones apply to your situation, and this allows you to figure out your average sprinkler system cost that will cover all of your yard without breaking your bank.
Installing a sprinkler system is one way to automate a huge part of your landscape and gardening routine, and it’s possible to control your sprinkler system cost to stay inside your budget while covering your yard. Sprinklers by Larry Vincent / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Sprinkler System Cost by Type
One of the first sprinkler system cost factors you have to consider is the type you want. You can generally divide the type into two categories, including above or inground models. Automatic systems can work for either model, and there are marked differences between them.
On average, the sprinkler system cost for an automatic unit is right around $2,600 for a quarter of an acre of coverage. This cost includes an automatic controller, and the controller’s cost varies from $10.00 to $325. Smart controllers allow you to adjust your system from your phone, and this is usually the more expensive option.
A drip irrigation system is the most popular style of above ground sprinkler system. It rests directly on the ground, and it will give your plants in a small area a set amount of water into the soil. It works well for a cluster of planter boxes. You’ll lose much less water with this type of system due to evaporation, but the lines are directly exposed to your timmers or lawn mowers. However, this sprinkler system cost is lower at an average of $2,000 per acre. It does make your pruning or yard work more labor-intensive.
A more popular type of sprinkler is an in ground model. You have to have a company come in and sink the lines below the surface of your yard. You can have sprinkler heads that rise up from the ground when they switch on, or they can stick out all of the time. They usually don’t go further than two feet below the surface of the yard, and they start around $3,000 per acre to install. Large lawns or big landscaping areas can benefit from this system because it can sprawl for acres without an issue, and you can program it to automatically switch on and off to give your flowers or lawn the correct amount of water.
Number of Programmable Zones and Sprinkler System Costs
This may surprise you, but the planting zone you live in will impact your sprinkler system cost. Different foliage and grass needs different water levels. You can easily separate your yard into different zones and program your system to deliver the correct amount of water to each one. A zone will be one section of your sprinkler system, snf you can control them all individually. The more zones you have, the more your sprinkler system cost will go up.
- One Zone – $650
- Two Zones – $1,300
- Three Zones – $2,000
- Four Zones – $2,600
- Five Zones – $3,300
- Six Zones – $4,000
- Seven Zones – $4,600
Maybe you get a system but you want to add another zone. If a specific area in your yard isn’t getting enough water or the heads don’t reach far enough, you can add another zone. This will add to your sprinkler system cost by $500 to $700.
The bigger your yard is, the more zones you’ll need. You can control all of these zones one by one to give each area the correct amount of water to keep everything healthy and thriving. Sprinklers by Justin Baeder / CC BY 2.0
Sprinkler System Price Points Per Acre
Your sprinkler system cost can have a large price fluctuation depending on your landscaping variety, yard, slope, and the overall climate. The short guide below will help you price out a sprinkler system based on your yard size.
- Quarter of an Acre – $2,000 to $3,400
- Half on an Acre – $4,400 to $6,800
- Three Quarters of an Acre – $6,500 to $10,100
- One Acre – $8,700 to $13,500
Choosing a Sprinkler Head
Next, you’ll have to decide which type of sprinkler head you want to have on your system, and this will impact your sprinkler system cost. If you just have a garden, you’ll most likely want a different sprinkler head than you would if you had purely flower beds. Knowing which head will work best can help you control your sprinkler system cost and maximize your efficiency levels.
- Bubbler – Bubbler-style sprinkler heads can sit right on top of the ground and water a direct area around it. This makes it an excellent choice to put down in the middle of your flower beds, and they cost around $1.00 her head.
- Fixed – Fixed sprinkler heads poke up out of the ground and they don’t move. They’ll spray in the same area every time they come in, and they’re nice to have if you have curved or narrow areas in your yard to water. You’ll pay around $7.00 a head.
- Gear-Driven Motor – This is one of the more popular choices available since it’s lower maintenance. It works best for flat and larger areas, and it runs quieter than other models. This head will increase your sprinkler system cost by $8.00 a head.
- Impact Rotor – This head gives you less consistent coverage, but it works decently to cover areas between 18 and 50-feet. This is a more expensive option at $10.50 a head.
- Low Flow/Drip – Anyone who has many gardens or a yard that has a lot of slopes should look into a low flow or drip-style head. It’ll cost right around $7.00 a head, and it’ll give you a consistent water supply.
- Micro/Misting – Maybe you have shrubs, bushes, or other types of foliage that need persistent low-flow water to thrive. That’s where these heads excel, and they run around $3.00 a head, so this makes them budget-friendly.
- Pop Up – If you want a type of sprinkler system that stays out of your way when you do yard work, look into the pop up style. They can cover large areas, and they cost around $7.00 a head.
- Rotary Nozzle – Rotary nozzles are very high-efficiency picks. They work well for thicker clay soils or on slopes, and they can help prevent erosion and run-offs. They’ll increase your sprinkler system cost by $9.00 a head, so they’re on the more expensive end of the spectrum.
Labor Costs for Sprinkler System Installation
It’s possible to find DIY sources online to install your system on your own to try and keep your sprinkler system cost down, but this is generally a bad idea. The amount of planning and how involved the process is can make this a huge process for an amateur. You have to worry about specialized tools and precise digging and measuring, and this can take you days.
A professional company can install your system in one or two days. They’re usually aware of any local laws or ordinances, and they have experience getting the correct permits. They also come with the correct equipment to help move the project along. Most companies will charge per job, but you can expect them to raise your sprinkler system cost by $40.00 to $100 an hour. The installation cost will vary in a big way from state to state, so be sure to call around.
Your labor costs will play a large role in your sprinkler system cost, so remember to factor this into your budget when you first start planning. Labor can take a few days, and it can almost double your costs. Sprinkler by Daniel R. Blume / CC BY-SA 2.0
Cost Factors for Installation
Along with the hourly rate, there are other cost factors to consider when you’re trying to average out your sprinkler system cost. This is where a professional comes in because they can figure out which features are in your budget and which aren’t feasible.
- Lawn Resodding – Once your system gets installed, you’ll have to repair or re-sod your lawn, and many people forget to factor this into their sprinkler system costs. The cost will depend on the grass breed you choose. It costs around $0.40 and $0.80 per square foot.
- Obstructions – Shrubs, trees, flower beds, bushes, retaining walls, and other non-organic obstructions will add a layer of complexity to your spinnaker system design and installation, and this will increase your spinnaker system cost. Obstructions can also require more zones and different sprinkler heads.
- Plumbing – Hopefully, connection your sprinkler system to your current plumbing won’t be a problem. However, you may have to upgrade if it’s not sufficient. A plumber can cost between $40 and $200 an hour, depending on the location and the job size.
- Site Preparation – If you want an underground system, you can lower your sprinkler system cost if you have someone install it before you do any landscaping or during new construction. If the soil will allow you to trench easier, this can reduce your costs. Clay, hard or rocky soil can all make the project more involved.
- Yard Size – How big your yard is will impact how many zones you need, the labor hours, and the materials you need, and all of this can increase your sprinkler system cost.
- Zones – You may need several zones due to landscaping obstructions, yard slope, yard size, and any non-organic obstructions like walkways or driveways. You’ll add between $500 and $700 per zone to your sprinkler system cost.
Prices for Different Sprinkler System Parts
Sprinkler systems have a host of different components that will all impact your sprinkler system cost, especially if you go for higher-end materials. Active parts of your sprinkler tend to wear out faster, and these are the parts you want to have a higher quality to help them last longer. The inactive parts support your system and don’t help the water move. Instead, they contain it until the active parts need it.
Many areas require you to have backflow prevention on your system. They’re anti-siphon valves that stop any contaminated water from flowing into your portable water source, and this is healthier for the environment. They’ll increase your sprinkler system cost by $300 on average.
A master controller will cost between $100 and $500, and the main function of this component is to make sure each sprinkler zone distributes the correct amount of water. It also helps monitor your system to make sure everything is working correctly. It can shut your entire system down if something malfunctions, and there are sensors along the system that communicate back with the master controller. There are a huge range of controllers available, and the more expensive picks have more control and features.
Drip Irrigation Tubing
Drip tubing gets installed above ground around your landscaping elements like shrubs, and it gets outfitted with water emitters that sit against the soil’s surface. It allows water to go directly to your plant’s roots, and this eliminates waste. It also prevents damage to more fragile plants, and it features a gallon per hour measurement.
A lot of water supplies to residential addresses simply don’t have enough water pressure to water your entire yard at one time. This is why many sprinklers get several zones. The electric valves on your system will open and close independently, and the master controller monitors them and adjusts the water output as needed. Each valve gets a 24-volt charge from the master controller system that you pre program in. This will continue until each zone gets the correct amount of water, and the price has a large variation based on the materials and capabilities. They’ll boost your sprinkler system cost by $12.00 to $48.00 each.
Fittings, Clamps, and Valve Boxes
Your system will get outfitted with numerous clamps, fittings, and couplings to help connect and redirect your pipes throughout the system’s zones. Valve boxes work to protect the valves while giving you very easy and fast access for maintenance and repairs. The prices vary from $2.00 each up to $30.00.
Your irrigation system will have several heads spaced throughout it that will cover a specific area. Your installer can guide you through which sprinkler heads will work best, and they average $10.00 each. The correct heads will ensure all of your yard gets covered without leaving any dry or dead spots while treating your more fragile impatiens or nasturtiums with a light spray that won’t damage them.
Your region will help pick out the correct piping for your system. Colder climates require you use more flexible polyethylene piping at $2.00 per linear foot to prevent damage. The more popular PVC will add between $0.50 to $1.00 per linear foot to your sprinkler system cost, but it’s not as durable when it gets cold.
Timers may add a decent amount to your sprinkler system cost, but they can be well worth it. A timer will allow your system to automatically switch on and off each day, and this guarantees your landscaping gets the correct amount of water whether you’re home or not. There are four main timer types available, including:
- Electronic – A more simple model, you get limited monitoring capabilities for around $20.00. You can program them to several zones, and they come with several options.
- Manual – A manual timer is the cheapest option at $10.00 each. You can set it for the time you want it to go off and for how long. They don’t offer multi-zone control or valve function and water flow monitoring.
- Programmable – The programmable models are controllers, and they can range between $100 and $300 each. They can monitor multiple zones or areas at the same time, and they can cut your system if it malfunctions.
- Zones – These timers will run several zones on one unit, and they can cost anywhere from $20.00 each up to $40.00 each.
A rain sensor will help your system detect how much water already fell on your yard to prevent overwatering. They will boost your sprinkler system cost by $25.00 to $50.00, and they can cut back the amount of water it releases after it rains.
You can have private or public water sources. The simplest way to get water is to connect it to a local source. Each town, county, and state will have regulations regarding this, and some may regulate how much water you can sue. Backflow is a big concern, so you may have to have permits to access the water source.
There are two series of wires that will run your entire system, including the valves, sensors, and controller boxes. You’ll need waterproof connectors to run through the PVC pipe to protect them from pests and water damage. Depending on your location, an electrician can add to your sprinkler system cost by charging between $30.00 and $75.00 an hour.
The more high-end your system gets, the more it’ll add to your sprinkler system cost. However, more feature make it more convenient for you, so it’s easy to balance the cost out. Sprinkler by Nathan Rupert / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Cost to Replace Parts of Your Sprinkler System
Even if you take fantastic care of your system, you have to maintain it and you’ll eventually have to replace components to keep it running in top shape. As the components age, they’ll stop working as effectively, so replacing them will bring your system up to top shape. However, if your system is over 20 years old, you should consider replacing the entire system for around $5,500. This is usually more cost-effective at this point than constantly replacing components.
One of the biggest components you’ll find yourself routinely replacing due to normal wear and tear is the sprinkler head. A faulty head can impact your water pressure. However, replacing them is usually pretty straightforward and simple, and the heads themselves cost an average of $10.00. You do want to replace them as soon as you notice them failing to prevent bigger issues down the line.
You’ll eventually have to replace all of the valves on your system. The valves will open and close to let the correct amount of water go in each set zone. These are very vital components of your system, and you should replace them as soon as you notice them failing. They’ll cost between $60.00 and $300.
Maintenance and Winterization Prices
It’s important that you routinely maintain your sprinkler system throughout the year to ensure that it’s in top shape. During the heavy usage months, have a professional come out to check on your system. They’ll look for problems, malfunction signs, or other minor problems. This will cost an average of $75 a year for one mid-season visit. You should also inspect your system regularly to see if your heads are spraying correctly, in the right pattern, and that they pop up and retract as they should.
It’s also a good idea to winterize your system if you live in an area where you get snow or freezing temperatures. You should start winterizing when you transition your garden from summer to fall to beat the frost. Having a professional come out and winterize the system will cost around $60.00. Many companies offer this service with a spring tune-up for around $100. Winterizing will help prevent unwanted leaks and cracks and keep your sprinkler system costs down.
Permits and License Costs
You will most likely need a permit to install a sprinkler system. Permit costs will vary from municipality to municipality, but the average cost range starts at $50.00 and goes up to over $500. You may need inspections and a license as well, and it’s a good idea to check with your local office or with the company you have come in to install it to help avoid fines.
Where to Find Sprinkler Installation Experts Near You
Looking for a professional company to perform your sprinkler system installation? If so, here is a short resource guide to use below:
Frequently Asked Questions
Asking the correct questions when you start shopping around for sprinkler systems will ensure you get the best prices with high-quality materials that will last for years. Sprinkler by Thangaraj Kumaravel / CC BY 2.0
1. Is it possible to install a sprinkler system on your own?
Yes, depending on your local regulations. However, this is a very involved, complex, and long project that requires speciality machinery, knowledge, and tools. You’re usually better off using a professional to ensure it’s 100% accurate.
2. How many zones do you need?
The amount of zones you’ll have on your system will depend on how level your yard is, any obstructions like walkways and buildings, and any fixed landscaping that you have. Again, a professional can help decide how many zones you need.
3. How much should you water the grass to keep it lush and green?
On average, you’ll want to give your lawn between one and one and a half inches of water every week. Space this amount out over two or three watering sessions each week for the best results.
Your sprinkler system cost depends on a host of variables, and you can use this guide to get a rough estimate for your project. We’ve outlined everything you need to know for the components and how to find the correct size for your yard. You can look and see which parts apply to you and which don’t, and this will help you budget for this project.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.