Sprinkler systems are a popular choice among homeowners looking to replace manual watering of their lawn and/or landscaping plants. Today’s modern automated sprinkler systems offer precision water usage and ideal watering time and duration, making sprinkler installation more than just a convenience. Sprinkler systems help homeowners conserve water and energy, enjoy convenient watering solutions, and increase the resale value of their homes. These should always be installed by a professional technician experienced in sprinkler installation.
The national average cost of installing a sprinkler system is between $4,000 and $7,000. Most homeowners spend about $5,500 for a professionally installed in-ground sprinkler system with an average controller for ½ acre of land. At the low end of the price range, you can spend as little as $2,200 to install an in-ground system on ¼ acre of land. At the high end, some homeowners spend as much as $13,500 on an in-ground sprinkler system on one acre with a smart controller and landscaping drip irrigation.
|Sprinkler System Installation Cost|
|National average cost||$5,500|
You will spend between $1,090 and $13,100 on a sprinkler system when it is priced by the acre. In addition to acreage, factors like location, climate, yard slope, and landscaping variety make the cost of a lawn sprinkler system vary significantly. Sometimes, upgrades to a larger system may be offered at a discount. Many sprinkler installation professionals charge by the acre to get an accurate cost for installation. If you have less than ¼ acre, many professionals charge by the square foot instead. We will cover this in the next section. In the table below, you will see the cost of a sprinkler system for one acre and several other common sizes.
|Lawn Size||Average Costs (Installed)|
|⅛ Acre||$1,090 - $1,635|
|⅙ Acre||$1,450 - $2,180|
|⅕ Acre||$1,750 - $2,620|
|¼ Acre||$2,180 - $3,270|
|½ Acre||$4,360 - $6,530|
|¾ Acre||$6,530 - $9,800|
|1 Acre||$8,700 - $13,100|
Sprinkler systems cost $0.50 to $2.00 per sq.ft. on average. Generally, homeowners pay more based on how advanced the system is and how many features it comes with, adding more installation and labor requirements for each square foot. Keep in mind that like acreage costs, the cost per sq.ft. for a new sprinkler system depends on your region and the company you select. This table shows common lawn sizes and the average costs of sprinkler system installations.
|Lawn Size||Average Costs (Installed)|
|500 sq.ft.||$250 - $1,000|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$500 - $2,000|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$1,000 - $4,000|
|3,000 sq.ft.||$1,500 - $6,000|
|4,000 sq.ft.||$2,000 - $8,000|
|5,000 sq.ft.||$2,500 - $10,000|
You can expect to spend between $650 and $7,000 on a sprinkler system based on the number of zones your system has. Different types of grass and foliage have different water requirements. Separating your yard into several irrigation zones allows you to program the system so that each zone supplies adequate water to the lawn and plants within that area. A zone is simply one section of your sprinkler system in which the same valve controls the heads. Small lots may be fine with one or two zones. However, an acre may require more than five zones to water the lawn and/or landscaping adequately.
Your sprinkler project’s cost varies based on how many sprinklers you have in each zone and how many total zones there are. It also depends on your property’s soil and the selected sprinkler system. The number of heads per zone can be found by calculating the gallons per minute and pounds per square inch (PSI). The higher the water pressure, the stronger the sprinklers. You may need fewer sprinkler heads to water the same amount of grass. Each sprinkler brand, overall design, and custom setup influence the number of sprinklers per zone. The following are the national average costs for sprinkler systems with a specific number of zones, with the cost for a 7 zone sprinkler system being the most expensive.
|Number of Zones||Cost (Installed)|
|1 Zone||$650 - $1,000|
|2 Zones||$1,300 - $2,000|
|3 Zones||$1,950 - $4,000|
|4 Zones||$2,600 - $5,000|
|5 Zones||$3,250 - $6,000|
|6 Zones||$3,900 - $6,500|
|7 Zones||$4,550 - $7,000|
You can expect to spend between $1,800 and $10,000 on your irrigation system based on its type. Irrigation systems can be classified into two categories: above-ground and in-ground. The first one rests on the ground, while the second is hidden in the subsurface. Choosing one or the other depends on your needs and budget, as outlined in this table with the different irrigation systems and their average costs. Drip irrigation can be a type of above-ground system. Depending on how it is installed and operates, it could also be installed as a subsurface drip irrigation system. You will see a breakdown of the details and costs of each type below.
|Type of Sprinkler System||Cost per Acre (Installed)|
|Above-Ground||$1,800 - $2,000|
|Drip Irrigation||$1,800 - $2,500|
|Subsurface Drip Irrigation||$2,000 - $4,000|
|In-Ground||$6,000 - $10,000|
Most homeowners pay around $1,800 to $2,000 to put a sprinkler system above the ground on a one-acre property. These systems are much more straightforward and simpler than their in-ground counterparts. The sprinklers are placed directly on the lawn and connected to a faucet or spigot through a hose. With the turn of the faucet, the water comes on and provides irrigation. This is the most affordable and economical option, better suited to small yards with minimal lawn and garden areas. If you do not want to install permanent sprinklers, above-ground systems work. You can move them around and put them away during the winter.
Above-ground sprinklers can be mounted in several ways: stakes, portable bases, or tripods for watering larger areas or farms. Stakes, as the name suggests, are placed in the ground so that the sprinkler head is in the right location to water the lawn, as are tripods. The portable bases make it easy for you to move the water supply around as you need. In the table below, you will see a price per unit for each type of above-ground sprinkler. Your installation contractor can help you determine how many units you need based on the size of your yard and the number of zones you have.
|Mounting Type||Average Cost per Unit (Installed)|
|Staked||$5 - $45|
|Portable Base||$10 - $45|
|Tripod||$40 - $100|
The cost to install a drip irrigation system runs around $1,800 to $2,500 per acre. One of the most common forms of irrigation, the drip irrigation system, rests on the ground and provides a designated amount of water to plants in a small area directly into the soil. The most significant benefit of these types of lines is that there is less water lost to evaporation. The inconvenience of having the lines exposed to mowers and trimmers, making trimming and pruning in the area more labor-intensive, is an admitted downside. However, the lower cost to install a drip irrigation system and water conservation benefits are a big influence for some homeowners.
For those who choose subsurface drip irrigation, the costs average from $2,000 to $4,000. Subsurface drip systems are different than standard drip irrigation, which is why they have their own category. Instead of being installed above ground, these systems are permanently installed below the surface to create a drip irrigation system that can better maintain the roots of the plant. This type of irrigation is most commonly used on large farms since it requires extensive installation and preparation. However, it is an option for any irrigation needs and offers a chance to reduce water usage by as much as 50%. It may be harder to inspect and maintain because it is buried in the ground.
The cost to install an in-ground sprinkler system ranges from $6,000 to $10,000 per acre on average. The specific needs of your lawn and landscaping are going to be unique. Expansive lawns and landscaping, needing a significant amount of water, benefit from well-planned in-ground systems. While these in-ground systems offer benefits like convenience and durability, the main drawback is the higher cost and the possibility of overwatering. As a sprinkler pro guides you through the installation planning and prepping processes, you'll learn the needs of different areas of your lawn and landscaping.
A central controller is used to program each zone independently, according to the needs of the plants in each. Once the system is installed and programmed, there is very little need for your attention with a fully automated system. Other than keeping an eye out for malfunctioning heads, or very wet or very dry areas in your yard, indicating a problem, the sprinkler system takes care of the rest. Higher-end, more advanced systems alert you to these problems.
When choosing your sprinkler head cost by type, you’ll find styles ranging from $1 to $35 each. One challenging part of planning a sprinkler system is sorting through the available heads and their specific purposes. There are two main types of sprinkler heads to choose from: above-ground and in-ground. The former simply fit onto a hose and are easy to install but present more hazards and require you to move and adjust them manually. With in-ground sprinkler heads, you pay more for the installation, but you can automate the watering process and avoid manual watering work week in and week out. This table shows the various options and national average costs. Remember that the price of these sprinkler heads is typically included in the overall installation cost.
|Head Type||Location||Cost per Head (Materials Only)|
|Bubbler||In-ground / above-ground||$1 - $10|
|Misting / Micro||Above-ground||$3 - $15|
|Pop Up||In-ground||$3 - $15|
|Rotary Nozzle||In-ground / above-ground||$3 - $20|
|Fixed||Above-ground||$10 - $40|
|Gear-Driven Rotor||Above-ground||$10 - $40|
|Impact Rotor||In-ground / above-ground||$20 - $35|
A bubbler sprinkler head costs $1 to $10 each. This basic sprinkler is designed to water flower beds and trees, saturating the ground soil to water plants otherwise obstructed from thorough watering. You can attach bubblers to traditional sprinkler heads above the ground or connect to irrigation pipes in underground sprinkler systems. Bubbler nozzles are available to convert other sprinkler heads.
The average price for misting or micro-sprinklers is $3 to $15. This above-ground style helps plants flourish with enhanced watering, particularly foliage that requires persistent low flow moisture. Homeowners with container or hanging plants often use misting sprinklers for consistent, controlled water just above the ground’s surface. They easily fit onto the end of a hose to simplify the watering process. Most misters come with several small heads to provide 360 degrees of misting power.
Plan to pay around $3 to $15 for pop up sprinkler heads, which work well for large in-ground installations where you do not want the head above ground when not in use. They often come with an adjustable spring loading mechanism, so you can easily hide them when you’re done watering for the day. This is a popular choice for homeowners who want regular watering without constant sprinklers dotting their landscape.
Most people pay around $3 to $20 for rotary nozzle sprinklers which can be used above-ground or in-ground. These high-efficiency sprinkler heads are ideal for slopes and clay to prevent run-off and erosion. Water conservation supporters often recommend replacing standard sprinkler heads with these nozzles due to the minimal mist and water-saving properties. Unlike the gear-driven model, the nozzle rotates, offering a finer spray with good reach.
With an average price of $10 to $40, fixed sprinkler heads are ideal for narrow and curved areas of above-ground sprinkler systems. These sprinklers stay firmly in place for quick and reliable watering and are often chosen for side gardens and walkways leading from the front yard to the back and vice versa. Their fixed spray is good for areas that need regular watering multiple times a week or even daily.
Homeowners usually pay between $10 and $40 for gear driven sprinkler heads designed for above-ground use. These sprinklers rely on uniform rotation to water large flat areas and are quieter and lower maintenance than other varieties on the market. Plus, gear-driven sprinklers are currently more popular than impact rotor sprinkler heads, thanks to the even distribution and dependable watering. The gear drives these sprinkler heads to turn and water evenly using a regular spray.
An impact rotor sprinkler head costs $20 to $35 on average. While it delivers a coverage area of 18 to 50 feet, it is less consistent than its rotary nozzle counterpart. These sprinklers can be installed in-ground or above-ground. As the rotor moves back and forth and delivers sharp bursts of water, it makes a recognizable ticking sound. You can get multi-stream varieties for better coverage with both above-ground and in-ground. The back-and-forth motion is not as reliable as some other models when it comes to even watering, but that is why multiple streams are available.
You can expect to spend $120 to $1,600 for the labor to install your sprinkler system, based on its type, with most of the cost going to the sprinkler heads and other materials. While most installers charge per job, the national average per hour is between $40 and $100. When considering the price of sprinkler system installation, keep in mind potential plumbing issues. A plumber’s cost ranges from $45 to $200 per hour, depending on the job and location.
You will find online sources that say installing a sprinkler system can be a DIY project. However, the amount of research and planning, the necessity of precise measuring and level digging, and specialized tools needed make this a massive undertaking for an amateur. Pros can, in many cases, complete the installation in one or two days. Costs for irrigation system installation vary based on the labor requirements, location, and individual design of each sprinkler or drip irrigation system. For example, an above-ground sprinkler with 6+ zones and multiple high-tech features may end up with labor prices closer to that of a traditional in-ground installation when compared to a basic above-ground one.
There are varying local ordinances, including permitting, municipal watering regulations, and backflow prevention, that need addressing before work begins on a sprinkler project. There is also the possibility that utility lines run beneath your yard. Having a pro that is familiar with all of these issues can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration. The next step is to map out your sprinkler. A pro will help you determine how many zones will be ideal for your yard. The number of zones is determined by several factors, including obstructions (variety landscaping, sidewalks, driveways, walkways, and sun/shade), sloping of your property, and the gallons per minute supplied.
When the property is all mapped out, the next step is to plan the style and placement of the sprinkler heads. Various sprinkler head styles are used throughout the yard, also depending on landscaping features, walkways and driveways, buildings, corners, and slopes. Within each zone and between each zone, each head's spray will need to overlap opposing heads so that there are no dead zones or dry spots. You shouldn’t incur any additional costs in the preparation of installing a sprinkler system.
Automated in-ground sprinkler systems cost $4,360 to $6,530 per ½ acre. Many homeowners find this cost to be worthwhile. Automatic sprinklers conserve water, save you money on your monthly water bill, and require minimal effort to keep working. Each zone of your yard gets precisely the amount of water that it requires. Also, you do not have to be available during peak watering hours to lug hoses and equipment around.
Proper watering ensures longevity in your plants and grass. Several options are available, with some systems monitoring the soil, sensing rainfall, and receiving up-to-date weather forecasts to adjust output. This ability to avoid overwatering saves you money and prevents unintentional damage.
Working with a pro to design the ideal sprinkler system for your property saves you time and money. Also, a beautifully manicured lawn and landscaping results in an increase in the value of your property.
If you want to upgrade to smart irrigation systems, you can expect to spend around $200 to $500 for an automated solution. Advanced smart timers and systems connect to real-time rain sensors, weather reports, and wind sensors that automatically adjust the output or operation of the system. With so many different systems available today, there are even apps that manage the sprinklers from smartphones and can be programmed to the specifics of your yard to give you a customized watering schedule based on your input. While automatic sprinklers automate the turning on and off of sprinklers, smart irrigation systems automate the entire process.
The average cost to reroute a sprinkler system is around $600 to $800 per zone. Suppose you install new landscaping or hardscaping in the yard or change the areas that need sprinklers. Then, you may need to have a professional reroute the entire system, or part of it, to ensure that it flows properly and delivers water to the right places. Several factors are involved in the costs of this project, so be sure to talk to your contractor to get an accurate estimate.
With in-ground sprinkler installation, homeowners should consider the cost of installing sod, which averages $1,275 to $2,625 per 1,500 sq. ft. lawn. The cost of installing sod and an in-ground sprinkler system at the same time averages $4,275 to $7,125, depending on the size and any special enhancements. Sod is a good option for properties with dull, dry, and dying grass that struggles to grow. Sod is grown in a special environment before it’s added to residential lawns. Combining sprinkler systems and sod projects is popular. You can get all the labor done at the same time, rather than pulling up fresh grass or sod to put in-ground sprinklers in at another time. Plus, sod requires more water during the first two weeks, and a new sprinkler system can meet those demands.
If you need to add a zone, you will spend between $500 and $650 per zone. In some instances, adding a zone to an existing sprinkler system may be necessary. Suppose a certain area is not getting enough water, or the existing heads or sprayers are not far-reaching enough. Perhaps the system was installed smaller initially for budget concerns, but now there is money to add more zones. In any case, a homeowner may decide to add a zone to an existing system to provide better watering for the property.
According to the EPA’s WaterSense, the average household in the U.S. uses 400 gallons of water per day and landscaping uses a third of the residential water of the entire country, or 7 billion gallons. What makes this number even more extraordinary is that they believe that as much as 50 percent is wasted due to evaporation and overwatering. If you add a weather-based controller to your sprinkler system, the EPA estimates that you may cut your water usage by as much as 37 gallons per day.
The average water usage cost for a household in the United States is $1.50 per 1,000 gallons. Of course, some areas of the country may use significantly more or less water on lawns because of climate and humidity differences. However, regardless of the cost, we should all be doing what we can to conserve this resource. One way you can help is to use native plants and grasses to reduce your outside water requirements by 20 to 50 percent.
Some people are looking for eco-friendly options. Efficient sprinkler systems with features are available that range from $7 to $250, based on the type of system or tool in question. For example, energy-efficient sprinkler heads cost $5 to $15 each, while rain sensors and gauges cost $10 to $100. You can invest in a smart system for your sprinklers that costs between $200 and $500, as discussed above, to improve the energy efficiency of the system. Integrating a low-flow drip system is another eco-friendly option. When you hire a contractor who is certified by the Irrigation Association and partnered with the EPA WaterSense program, you ensure you get the most eco-friendly and efficient system possible.
The division of your property into zones allows each area to receive the precise amount of water it needs. For instance, shrubbery and flower beds need less water than grass. If you were to have your lawn and shrubs in the same sprinkler zone, the shrubs would be getting too much water, or the grass would not be getting enough water. Too much water for plants can be as damaging to plants as too little. Any plant or grass in a particular zone should have the same water needs.
The amount of water needed by specific plants, grass, shrubs, flowers, and groundcover is primarily dictated by their natural habitat. The EPA has WaterSmart recommendations that include choosing native and low water plants, using mulch around beds to reduce evaporation, and grouping plants according to water needs.
Ground cover, shrubs, and trees need much less watering. Alternatively, most grasses require roughly an inch of water per week. This amount varies, however, and some drought-resistant species will do well with much less.
If you already have your landscaping in place, your sprinkler installer will suggest the appropriate equipment. If your sprinkler installation is a part of a new landscaping project, the installer will work with you and your landscape designer to install a system appropriate for your plans.
If you want to maximize the life of your sprinkler system, you need to understand the value of having the proper water pressure. Your water supply has two pressure measurements. The first is a static measure, which is the amount of pressure in the system when the water is off. The second, called the working pressure, is measured while the water is running and is the determining factor when choosing sprinkler system components. Most sprinkler systems work within a range of 30 to 50 PSI.
The working water pressure coming from your home, for a variety of reasons, may be less than the optimal PSI. In this case, your installer will suggest one of several low water pressure sprinkler options that can work with a PSI as low as 20. In some cases, you may have a landscape design that requires both high pressure and low-pressure heads. In this scenario, a high-pressure sprinkler can be outfitted with pressure-reducing valves to regulate the flow and lower the pressure to certain areas, for instance, bubblers and misters. These pressure-reducing valves can also be installed if you notice that instead of a steady spray, your sprinkler heads are misting. The irrigation components will wear out more quickly with a sprinkler system water pressure that is too high.
The convenience of sprinkler system timers is well worth the nominal cost, averaging between $10 and $300, depending on the type you choose. Easily set the timer to engage the system to start and stop automatically, and you guarantee your lawn gets the appropriate amount of moisture without any hassle. They are available with various options, including moisture monitoring, zone management, and more. Installation costs are minimal and are typically incorporated into your new sprinkler system with manual or electronic timers. However, if you purchase a high-level programmable sprinkler, you may pay between $40 and $100 for additional electrical work.
Manual timers are the most effective, while electronic timers take some hassle out of setting the timers. They also offer solutions for monitoring several zones at once, known as zone timers. Then, there are programmable timers that are often called controllers because of all they can do. Each system has its own material costs, installation considerations, and pros and cons to its use. In the table below, you will see how much each timer will cost, on average, for the unit alone.
|Type of Timer||Average Costs (Materials Only)|
|Manual||$10 - $20|
|Electronic||$25 - $75|
|Zone Timer||$35 - $100|
|Programmable||$50 - $300|
You can expect to spend about $75 to $85 on annual maintenance for your sprinkler system that involves a check-up during peak season. Maintaining your sprinkler system is another way to ensure you are not throwing money away. During the summer months, you should consider having a professional do a mid-season check-up for visible signs of malfunction or potential problems before they turn into big issues.
In between regular professional check-ups, you should check out your sprinkler once in a while. You might notice that one of your sprinkler heads is spraying wildly, not spraying at all, or not popping up or retracting when it should. The fix for this may simply be removing debris around the sprinkler head. Or, individual heads may get damaged by weather, lawn equipment, or even errant footfalls. Regular inspections and maintenance ensure your system is always working effectively.
You may decide to install a rainwater collection system, which will cost $1,000 to $3,500. In areas where seasonal low rainfall or drought are common, collecting rainwater is a great way to make use of the natural moisture when it’s available and save some for when it’s not. A rainwater collection system can be connected directly to your irrigation system, allowing you to redirect the water from your roof to be used to water your own lawn or plants. Keep in mind that several states have regulations regarding the collection and private use of rainwater.
Drain back valves cost $2 to $4 each. In areas where frequent and prolonged freezes occur, drain back valves may be required. These valves are placed at the end of each line, particularly in lower-lying areas. They will automatically release any standing water when the sprinkler is not in use, preventing damage from unexpected freezes. Also, these make winterizing the system much quicker and easier, so they can enhance any sprinkler system.
Depending on the region, some homeowners rely on their lawn sprinkler systems for peace of mind in case of a brush wildfire. They are more than just a convenient way to water the lawn and outdoor plants. Other fire protection options for inside the house include installing fire sprinkler systems for $1.30 to $2 per sq. ft. Generally, fire suppression systems that use water to put out fires cost between $20 and $1,000, depending on their size and features. This can be a great way to protect your home from potential wildfire damage, both inside and out.
A high-quality automated sprinkler system that is convenient and easy to use adds to the value of your home. Additionally, a well-maintained sprinkler system contributes to curb appeal, which does not directly affect the home price but impacts salability.
If local regulations permit it, you may decide that you would prefer to save money by installing it yourself. However, it is a long and complicated process that requires many hours, planning, and specialty tools and machinery.
The number of zones you need for your yard will be determined by several factors, including how level your property is, the fixed landscaping, and any obstructions like walkways, driveways, and buildings.
Your sprinkler system should be between 6 and 12 inches deep, depending on the soil.
You will have to determine the design capacity based on the size of your yard, the furthest distance in your yard from the main water source, and the working pressure of the water source.
The choice of sprinkler will be the deciding factor. For a fully covered lawn without any dead zones or dry spots, the recommendation is that the spray from one sprinkler should fully overlap the spray from the opposite head. Therefore, the diameter of the sprinkler head spray dictates the distance between and the number per square foot.
On average, most lawn grasses need between 1” and 1½” of water per week. It is best to achieve this with two or three waterings per week.
Yes. Watering your lawn at night promotes the growth of harmful bacteria and fungus. Predominantly in areas with hotter evenings and high relative humidity, lawns watered at night are susceptible to a condition commonly referred to as “root rot.” Various fungi and bacteria in the soil rapidly reproduce and damage your grass under these conditions. Watering at night is better in arid areas away from the coast.
The number of heads per zone can be found by calculating the gallons per minute and pounds per square inch (PSI). The higher the water pressure, the stronger the sprinklers. You may need fewer sprinkler heads to water the same amount of grass.