Automatic Irrigation Systems

Automatic irrigation systems negate having to constantly tend to your lawn for proper watering

Automatic Irrigation Systems

Irrigation systems can save money on water bills over using a sprinkler system. Using an efficient irrigation system may help conserve water by allowing you to customize the amount you need to specific areas.

This buying guide highlights the different types of irrigation systems and helps you determine the water capacity and measurements required for an efficient system.

System Components

Common system components are pipe, pump, valves and control box

  • The size of your lawn will dictate how much pipe you need and how many valves you will have to use.
  • Irrigation kits include all the parts you’ll need for installation.
  • Use different size heads in different zones for more efficient watering.
  • Some heads use a fine mist while others emit a steady stream.
  • Digital controllers make it easy to set your watering schedule with the touch of a button, even remotely, and can be set to different times for different areas for better efficiency.
  • Timers enable presetting times so the system can begin early when you are asleep or away on vacation.
  • Moisture sensors can automatically shut off the system if the lawn has received adequate rainfall to avoid flooding and excess runoff.


Create a house and yard diagram complete with measurements for decks, walkways, driveways and fences

  • Note which areas are grassy and which contain flowers, trees and shrubs and mark the locations of your water meter and supply lines.
  • Keep in mind winterizing requirements if you live in a colder climate.
  • Consult the following chart to determine water capacity:

Determining Water Capacity

  • Turn off all faucets and water sources.
  • Attach a pressure gauge to an outside faucet, and
    turn it on until the gauge reads 35 psi. Leave it running.
  • Locate the outside faucet closest to your home's main water source, and turn it all the way on.
  • Place a 5-gallon bucket underneath the faucet, and time how long it takes to fill. Turn water off once bucket is filled.
  • Use the chart to the right to determine capacity in gallons per minute based on how long it took to fill the bucket.
  • 5 seconds = 60 gpm
  • 10 seconds = 30 gpm
  • 15 seconds = 20 gpm
  • 20 seconds = 15 gpm
  • 25 seconds = 12 gpm
  • 30 seconds = 10 gpm
  • 35 seconds = 8.57 gpm
  • 40 seconds = 7.5 gpm
  • 45 seconds = 6.67 gpm
  • 50 seconds = 6 gpm


Maximum Recommended Flow

Type of Pipe Size Maximum gpm


  • 3/4" -inch Galvanized
  • 1" -inch Galvanized
  • 8 gpm
  • 13 gpm


  • 3/4" -inchPoly Pipe
  • 1" -inchPoly Pipe
  • 8 gpm
  • 13 gpm


  • 3/4" -inch Schedule 40
  • 1" Schedule 40
  • 3/4" Class 200
  • 1" -inch Class 200
  • 8 gpm
  • 13 gpm
  • 10 gpm
  • 15 gpm

Type K Copper

  • 3/4" -inch Copper Tube
  • 1" -inch Copper Tube
  • 6 gpm
  • 12 gpm

Winterization and Watering Tips

Be cognizant of which areas need more water than others before installing your system

  • Plants and flowers need more water than grass.
  • Grass needs more water than trees and shrubs.
  • Avoid over watering and run your system early in the morning so vegetation has time to dry out before nightfall.
  • Winterization involves removing excess water from the pipes to protect them from damage when temperatures drop below freezing, which can be done by blowing air through the system.
  • Consider drip irrigation for trees, shrubs and areas that lack grass.
  • Install pipes 8 – 12 inches deep to avoid accidental damage.
  • Have utility companies mark where pipes and power lines are before digging.