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Sprinkler System Installation Process & Procedures

Sprinkler system installation plan

Landscape Irrigation System Installation

If you are a homeowner or property manager looking to install a sprinkler system, it's important to plan ahead and ensure that you have all the necessary parts before beginning the actual installation. From trenching to connecting the water source, installing shut-off valves, working with PVC pipe, building a valve manifold, connecting wires, installing sprinklers and flushing your system, there are many important steps involved in the process. Fortunately, helpful guidance is available via this ultimate Guide Process and Procedures for installing a NEW LANDSCAPE SPRINKLER SYSTEM in San Antonio.

San Antonio sprinkler system installation

Scope of Landscape Irrigation System Installation:

Site Assessment:

Condoct a thorough assessment of the landscape to determine the irrigation system requirements.
Evaluate the soil condition, topography, sun exposure, and plant types to design an efficient system.
Design and Planning:

Develop a detailed irrigation system design that meets the specific needs of the landscape.
Determine the layout of sprinkler heads, valves, pipes, and controllers for optimal water distribution.
Consider water source options, such as municipal supply or well water, and incorporate backflow prevention measures.
Material and Equipment Procurement:

Source high-quality irrigation components, including sprinkler heads, valves, pipes, fittings, controllers, sensors, and other necessary equipment.
Ensure compatibility of all components and choose products that promote water efficiency and sustainability.

Prepare the site by marking areas for pipe trenches, valve boxes, and sprinkler head locations.
Excavate trenches and lay pipes following the designed layout, considering appropriate pipe sizing and depth.
Install sprinkler heads, valves, backflow prevention devices, and other components according to manufacturer guidelines.
Connect the irrigation system to the water source and configure the controller settings.
System Testing and Adjustments:

Conduct thorough testing of the installed system to check for leaks, proper water flow, and functionality of all components.
Adjust sprinkler head positions, spray patterns, and watering schedules to ensure uniform water distribution and minimize wastage.
Calibrate the controller settings based on plant water requirements, weather conditions, and seasonal adjustments.
Documentation and Training:

Provide detailed documentation of the installed system, including the irrigation layout, component specifications, and controller programming instructions.
Offer training to the property owner or maintenance staff on the operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of the irrigation system.
Post-Installation Support:

Offer ongoing support and maintenance services, including periodic inspections, repairs, and system upgrades if necessary.
Provide guidance on water conservation practices, such as scheduling adjustments and the use of moisture sensors or rain shut-off devices.

Note: The scope may vary depending on the specific requirements of the landscape and the irrigation system design. It's important to consult with a professional irrigation contractor for a detailed assessment and tailored scope of work.

Sprinkler System Inner-Workings Diagram



  1.01 General

Work in this section consists of all labor, materials, and equipment necessary to install the irrigation system as indicated on the Smart Irrigation System Design Plans which includes turf and shrub sprinkler system automatic controller and remote-control valves, the proper execution of the work, including trenching, installation of pipe and backfilling.




  2.01 - Components

    A. the Owner/Property Manager will receive a complete list of all irrigation system materials proposed to be furnished and installed. Show

manufacturer’s name and catalog number for each item, furnish complete catalog cuts and technical data, and furnish the manufacturer’s recommendations as to method of installation.

   B. At least one person who shall be always present during execution of this portion of the work, and who shall be thoroughly familiar with the type of materials being installed, and material manufacturer’s recommended methods of installation, and who shall direct all work performed under this section. The Contractor shall have a minimum of 4 days to complete the residential lawn irrigation installation.


  2.02 Materials

  A. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Pipe

     1. All mainlines, and transmission lines shall be Schedule 40 PVC; laterals shall be Class 200 PVC. Pipe shall be rigid unplasticized conforming to ASTM D-1784 and D-2241 standard specifications for PVC pipe. The pipe shall be homogeneous throughout and free from visible cracks, holes, foreign materials, blisters,  deleterious wrinkles, and dents.

     2. All pipe shall be continuously and permanently marked with the following information: Manufacturer’s name or trademark, size, schedule and type of pipe, working pressure at 73oF (23oC), and National Sanitation Foundation (N.S.F.) approval.

B. Risers

     1. All stationary spray heads shall have risers of high-density polyethylene plastic pipe (“funny pipe”) with spiral barbed ell fittings. Minimum length of “funny pipe” shall be eighteen inches (18”) (450mm).

     2. All rotor pop-up sprinklers shall have an adjustable pre-assembled double swing joint riser. Swing joints shall be Rain Bird or Spears Marlex ells MIPT x FIPT or equal. Swing joints shall be twelve inches (12”) (300mm) long and shall be threaded on both ends. The swing joint riser shall be of proper pipe size to match head threads.

C. Manual Valves

     1. All manual ball valves, sizes three-inch (3”) (75mm) and smaller, shall be full ported ball valves with maximum working pressure of 175 psi (1200kPa) and 350 psi (2400kPa) hydrostatic test pressure.

     2. All manual gate valves of four-inch (4”) (100mm) size or larger shall be iron body, brass trimmed, double disc wedge type with integral taper seats and with non-rising stems and shall be Mueller A-2360 resilient wedge gate valves with mechanical joints or equal. All manual gate valves shall be 200 psi (1380kPa) rated.

D. Valve Boxes

   1. All remote-control valves, manual control valves, zone shut-off valves, ball valves, or globe valves unless otherwise indicated, shall be installed in valve access box of proper size as required for easy access to the valve.

   2. Valve boxes shall be placed with a minimum of five feet (5’) separation between each valve box.

E. Sprinkler Heads

   1. All heads of a particular type and for a particular function in the system shall be of the same manufacture and shall be marked with the manufacturer’s name and identification, in such a position that they can be identified without being removed from the system.

F. Automatic Irrigation Controllers

   1. Irrigation controllers shall be model numbers and manufacturers as shown on the plans or an acceptable equal.

G. Automatic Remote-Control Valves

   1  . All remote-control valves shall be two-inch (1”) (50mm) Rain Bird 1800, two-inch (4”)

Rainbird GB globe pattern or approved equal. All valves shall be 24-volt, with epoxy sealed solenoid coils and throttling stem. All splices shall be installed with 3M DBY and DBR types and all splices shall be made inside the valve box.

H. Control Cable

   1. All electric control and ground wire shall be irrigation control cable or approved equal, 14-gauge unless otherwise indicated on the drawings. All wiring to be used for connecting the automatic remote-control valve to the automatic controllers shall be Type “UF”, 600-volt, solid copper, single conductor wire with PVC insulation and bear UL approval for direct underground burial feeder cable.

   2. Insulation shall be 4/64-inch (1.6mm) thick minimum covering of ICC-100 compound for positive waterproofing protection. All control or “hot” wires shal    l be of one color (Red) and all common or “ground” wires shall be white. When more than one valve is operated by a single controller station, provide separate control wire from the controller to each valve, and one valve per box. Each valve should have no less than twenty-four inches (14”) of control cable inside valve box. Each wire shall be labeled at the valve box and at the controller to what zone each wire controls.

  3. Verification of wire types and installation procedures shall be checked to conform to local codes.

I. Fittings

  1. All plastic pipe fittings shall be permanently marked with the following information: Manufacturer’s name or trademark, size, schedule and type of pipe, working pressure at 73oF (23oC), and National Sanitation Foundation (N.S.F.) approval.

  2. All plastic pipe fittings to be installed shall be molded fittings manufactured of the same material as the pipe and shall be suitable for solvent weld or screwed connections.

  3. Slip fitting socket taper shall be so sized that a dry unsoftened pipe end, conforming to these special provisions, can be inserted no more than halfway into the socket. Only schedule 80 fittings may be threaded.

  4. When connection is plastic to metal, plastic male adapters shall be used. The male adapter shall be hand tightened, plus one turn with a strap wrench. Joint compound shall be Teflon Tape and Teflon paste. No oil-based products will be used.

  5. Solvent weld fittings shall be manufactured by Lasco, Spears, or acceptable equal. All lateral line fittings and mainline fittings two inches (1”) and smaller shall be schedule 40 solvent weld fittings.

J. Other Materials

1. All other materials, not specifically described, but required for a complete and proper irrigation system installation, shall be new, first quality of their respective kinds.




3.01 Product Handling

A. Use all means necessary to protect irrigation system materials before, during, and after installation and to protect the installed work and materials of all other trades.

B. In the event of damage, immediately make all repairs and replacements necessary to the approval and at no additional cost to the Property Owner.


 3.02 Surface Conditions

A. Inspection

1. Prior to all work of this section, carefully inspect the installed work of all other trades and verify that all such work is complete to the point where this installation may properly commence.

2. Verify that trenching may be completed in accordance with the original design and the referenced standards.

3. In the event of discrepancy, immediately notify the Property Owner. Contractor will not proceed with installation in areas of discrepancy until all discrepancies have been fully resolved.


3.03 Trenching

A. Perform all trenching required for the installation of items where the trenching is not specifically described in other sections of these Specifications.

B. Make all trenches in accordance with OSHA Requirements with sufficient width to provide free working space at both sides of the trench and around the installed item as required for gluing, joining, backfilling, and compacting while minimizing width of trenches.

C. All mainline shall have a minimum cover of 6”and a maximum

cover of 5” above the pipe. All laterals shall be the same depth as the mainline. All lateral and main lines shall be installed in a straight line with no arching or bending of pipe. Change in direction of pipe shall occur only with the use of proper fittings.

D. Where trench excavation is inadvertently carried below proper elevations, backfill with material approved by the City ordinance and then compact to provide a firm and unyielding subgrade to the approval of the City and at no additional cost to the Owner.

E. Trench Bracing

1. Properly support all trenches in strict accordance with all pertinent rules and regulations.

2. Brace, sheet, and support trench walls in such a manner that they will be safe and that the ground alongside the excavation will not slide or settle, and that all existing improvements of every kind will be fully protected from damage.

3. In the event of damage to such improvements, immediately make all repairs and replacements necessary to the approval of the City and at no additional cost to the Owner.

4. Arrange all bracing, sheeting and shoring to not place stress on any portion of the completed work until the general construction thereof has proceeded far enough to provide sufficient strength.

5. Exercise care in the drawing and removal of sheeting, shoring, bracing, and timbering to prevent collapse or caving of the excavation faces being supported.

F. Grading and Stockpiling Trenched Material

1. Control the stockpiling of trenched material in a manner to prevent water running into the excavations.

2. Do not obstruct surface drainage but provide means whereby storm and waste waters are diverted into existing gutters, other surface drains, or temporary drains.

G. All trench excavation shall be made by open cut. During excavation, material suitable for

backfilling shall be piled in an orderly manner a sufficient distance from the banks of the trench to avoid overloading, and to prevent slides or cave-ins. The Contractor shall remove all material not required for backfill or not suitable for backfill, from the site. Banks of trenches shall be kept as nearly vertical as possible and shall be properly sheeted and braced as may be necessary to prevent caving.

H. Trench widths in areas where proximity to other structures require vertical cuts, shall not be wider than is required for proper handling, jointing and bedding of the pipe.

I. The bottom of the trenches shall be accurately graded to line and grade and provide uniform bearing and support for each section of the pipe on undisturbed soil, at every point along its entire length. Depressions for joints shall be dug after the trench bottom has been graded, and shall be only of such length, depth and width as required for properly making the type of joint. Care shall be taken not to excavate below the depths indicated.

J. Where rock occurs in trench excavation, the rock shall be removed to a depth of 6” below the established grade line, and to a width of 12” greater than the outside diameter of the pipe to be installed in the trench.

K. Excess material, including rock, broken concrete, bituminous materials, debris, or other materials not suitable for backfill, shall be removed from the site and disposed of by the Contractor.


  3.04 Backfill

A. The trenching shall not be backfilled until inspection by the Licensed Irrigator and or City Inspector has been completed and the pipe installation, including the grade, alignment, and jointing has been found to follow the requirements of the plans and specifications.

B. Select backfill material consisting of sand, fine gravel or select earth, free of large rocks larger than 3” shall be used in backfilling around and over the installed pipe.

C. The select material shall be obtained from the excavation material removed from the trench and shall be processed by screening, sifting, or selective sorting, to produce the type of backfill herein specified. The Contractor may at his option and own expense provide an acceptable imported material.

D. This backfill material shall be carefully deposited around and over the pipe in layers not more than 4” thick, loose measurement, unless otherwise permitted by the City, wetted to optimum moisture content and uniformly compacted to at least 95% of the maximum density obtainable at optimum moisture content as determined by TCEQ.

T99 Method A or D (latest revision), until the pipe has a cover depth of at least 12”.

E. The remaining depth of the trench shall be backfilled with excavation material removed from the trench, which shall be wetted or dried to near optimum moisture content. 3.07 Field Measurements

F. Make all necessary measurements in the field to ensure precise fit of items in accordance with the original design. 3.08 Installation of Piping

G. Perform all trenching and backfilling as specified by the specifications in this Section.

H. Lay out the piping system in strict accordance with the plans. No piping will on the plans to be under paved areas, but running parallel and adjacent to planted areas, the intention is to install the piping in the planted areas.

I. All mainlines, and laterals shall be installed with 6” minimum cover, and a maximum10” cover, over the pipe.

J. All lines shall have a minimum clearance (horizontal and vertical) of 2” of adjacent pipe from each other, and (6”) from lines of other trades.

K. Carefully inspect all pipe and fittings before installation, removing all dirt, scale, and burrs and reaming as required; install all pipe with all markings up for visual inspection and verification.


  3.05 PVC Pipe

A. Pipe Installation

1. Plastic pipe shall be installed in a manner to provide for expansion and contraction as recommended by the manufacturer.

2. All plastic joints shall be solvent-weld joints. Only the solvent cement recommended by the pipe manufacturer shall be used. All plastic pipe and fittings shall be installed as outlined and instructed by the pipe manufacturer and it shall be the Contractor’s responsibility to decide with the pipe manufacturer for any field assistance that may be necessary. The Contractor shall assume full responsibility for the correct installation.

3. All plastic to metal joints shall be made with plastic adapters.

4. The solvent-weld joints shall be made dry.

5. The solvent-weld joints shall be allowed to set at least 24 hours before pressure is applied to the system on PVC pipe.

6. Swing joints shall be installed on the same side of the pipe as the head. Swing joints may not cross pipe laterally.

B. All fittings, valves, etc. shall be carefully placed in the trenches as shown on the plans.

1. All control wires shall be clearly labeled, by station, using weatherproof material, both at the controller and at the valve. The outside cover of all automatic valve boxes shall also have the station number clearly stamped on the cover.

2. All sprinklers, having adjustable nozzles, shall be adjusted for proper and adequate distribution of the water over the coverage pattern of the sprinkler.

3. All nozzles on stationary pop-up sprinklers or stationary spray heads shall be tightened after installation. All sprinklers having an adjusting screw, adjusting stem or adjusting friction collars shall be adjusted as required for the proper arc of coverage, radius, diameter and/or gallonage discharge.

C. Sprinkler Heads

1. Install lawn sprinkler heads where indicated on the plans and in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

2. Along walks and driveways where finished grade is established, set all heads ¼” below surface of pavement at time of installation and one and 1-1/2” from pavement. Stake all temporary risers.

3. Set all heads to final grade where sod lawn will be installed.

4. Upon completion of maintenance period, reset all lawn sprinkler heads flush with grade and firmly anchor with soil.


3.06 Testing and Inspection

A. Closing-in Work

1. Do not allow or cause any of the work in this section to be covered up or enclosed until it has been inspected, tested, and approved by the Licensed Irrigator.

2. Where trenches are not closed at the end of the day Contractor shall accept all liability for any damage or injury that may result from open trenches. Provide barricades and warning tape as necessary around all open trenches.

B. Before backfilling the mainline, and with all control valves in place, completely flush and test the mainline and repair all leaks; flush out each section of lateral pipe before sprinkler heads are attached.

C. Testing

1. Make all necessary provisions for thoroughly bleeding the line of air and debris.

2. Before testing, fill the line with water for a period of at least 24 hours.

3. After valves have been installed, test all installed irrigation lines for leaks at a pressure of 150 psi (1035 kPa) for a period of two hours, with all couplings exposed and with all pipe sections center loaded.

4. Furnish all necessary testing equipment and personnel.

5. Correct all leaks and retest until acceptance by the Licensed Irrigator.

D. Final Inspection

1. Thoroughly clean, adjust, and balance all systems.

E. Demonstrate the entire system to the Owner, proving that all remote-control valves are properly balanced, that all heads are properly adjusted for radius and arc of coverage, and that the installed system is workable, clean, and efficient.


3.07 Record Drawings

A. Dimension from two permanent points of reference (buildings, monuments, sidewalks, curbs, pavement, etc.). Locations shown on as-built drawings shall be kept day to day as the project is being installed. All dimensions noted on drawings shall be neat and legible.

Show locations and depths of the following items:

Routing of sprinkler lines

Ball valves

Sprinkler control valves

Routing of control and power wires

Sprinkler heads

Other related equipment

B. Record of Final As-Built drawings must be delivered to the Owner No later than 30 working days upon completion.


 3.08 Operations and Maintenance Manuals

A. Prepare and deliver to the Owner within 10 working days upon the completion of construction, all required and necessary descriptive material in complete detail and enough, properly prepared in four individually bound copies of the operations and maintenance manual. The manual shall describe the material installed and shall be in sufficient detail to permit operating personnel to understand, operate and maintain all equipment. Spare parts lists and related manufacturer information shall be included for each equipment item installed. Each complete, bound manual shall include the following information:

1. Index sheet stating Contractor’s address and telephone number, duration of guarantee period, list of equipment with names and addresses of local manufacturer representatives.

2. Complete operating and maintenance instructions on all major equipment.

B. In addition to the above maintenance manuals, provide the Owner with instructions for system operation and show written evidence of the project that this service has been rendered.


 3.09 Warranty

A Written Warranty and requirements will be submitted to Owner/Property Manager upon 100% completion of the Project.

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