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The home with a lush, green lawn has more curb appeal. It is also cooler, and the air around the home typically contains more oxygen. Americans love their lawns and spend billions per year maintaining them.
Lawn sprinkler systems today can be set on timers, controlled by a smartphone, and some high-tech homeowners even attach weather apps to preclude unnecessary watering.
Using a lawn sprinkler system to cultivate and maintain a beautiful lawn and garden can give you more luscious green space with fewer worries. However, how much does it cost to install a lawn sprinkler system?
Most homeowners spend $2,000 to $4,000 on an irrigation system for their lawn. Several factors will impact the cost, such as the size of the lawn, geographic location, and the number of zones.
Irrigation Cost for the Average Size Lawn
The average American lawn nationwide is one-fourth of an acre, or roughly 10,870 square feet. The further away from the city usually means a bigger lawn. However, the availability of water typically limits its size.
If you’re unsure how large your lawn is, use our acreage calculator to determine the size in acres using a map.
Areas like California, Nevada, and Arizona have smaller lawns, whereas rural areas with cooler climates have larger lawns. Lawns in Vermont are typically 17 times larger than a lawn in Nevada; the largest average in the USA.
To install a lawn sprinkler system in the average size lawn of one-quarter acre costs $2,500. The typical range is between $2,000 and $4,000. The minimum is usually around $1,800 and the maximum about $8,000.
However, the actual price will vary depending on the size of the lawn soil conditions and slope, the number of zones, pipes, heads, controllers, and labor. The most significant of these is the size of your lawn, the materials used, and labor.
The Lawn Size, Slope, and Zones
The size of your lawn increases the price of the install but not exponentially. In other words, the average one-quarter acre is not half what a one-half acre costs, even though the average is $.40 per square foot.
A one-half acre lawn will cost about $3,500 to $5,000 and a one-acre lot about $6,500 – $8,000.
The expense for an extensive area (200 to 300 square feet between heads) with manual sprinklers and pop-up irrigation heads is about $.45 – $.47 per square foot up to about 5,000 square feet installed.
Five to ten thousand square feet is about $.38, and over ten thousand square feet, the price decreases to approximately $.30 per square foot. For automatic sprinklers, add roughly $.15 per square foot.
This installed price includes control valves, sprinkler heads, fittings, necessary pipe trenches, and refilling those trenches. Replacing sod or reseeding costs more. Although if paid separately, sod cost about $.30 to $.50 per square foot. You can get a better idea of how much replacing sod will cost by checking our sod cost guide.
The lawn’s slope and soil conditions will affect the cost of installing pipes. The harder the ground, the longer it takes to dig. Hard soil with lots of rocks will add to the overall cost.
Likewise, fully cultured lawns with shrubs and other landscaping will cost more due to sod replacement, and the additional time it takes to dig around trees and shrubs without killing the roots.
What’s more, in an area that typically has a hard freeze, it will cost 10 – 15 percent more to weatherize your system. Learn more about the costs to winterize a sprinkler system.
The many different zones around your yard can affect the overall price positively or negatively. Areas with rock gardens do not need as many sprinkler heads, shrubbery may need more, and garden areas with possible seedlings need low-flow heads rather than high-pressure spray heads.
Unless you specify otherwise, the landscaper will likely use the standard PVC 40 pipe. These prices vary from $.34 for ½ inch pipes to $1.25 per linear foot for 3-inch pipes.
Usually, all the parts for your system cost $750 – $900, though you can choose cheaper or more expensive components. Since you want your system to last 5 – 10 years, you should use quality components to cut down on repair costs.
Sprinkler Heads: Options & Costs
There are a variety of sprinkler heads available, and they vary in distance, angle, and spray, making them suitable for different use-cases. The quantity and type of heads used will impact the cost of the system.
Rotary Impact Heads
These reach 20’ – 150’ and cost about $20 each. However, due to all the moving pieces, these may require more frequent maintenance.
Rotary Gear-Driven Heads
These reach 15’ – 30’ and cost about $12 each. These should get placed about 20 feet apart.
These are used primarily around areas with shrubbery, and cost between $5.50 and $6.00 each.
Low-Flow or Misting Heads
These are also known as drip heads and typically get used in garden areas with fragile plants that cannot stand the pressure from a spray head or where little water is needed. These cost about $10 each.
These hide just below the lawn’s surface when not in use and pop-up the number of inches in their names. A number two pop-up raises two inches, with pressure to spray 12 to 15 feet, and cost about $7.50 to $8.00 each, and is best for well-kept lawns.
The number four-six is best for grass cut to three or four inches and sprays out to 15 feet; these cost $6.50 – $9 each.
The number eight to twelve reaches into the shrubbery and other difficult to reach areas and costs about $15 to $17 each.
Manual timers cost about $7 – $25, while electronic timers cost $25 – $50, depending on the quality. You can add elaborate automatic zone, weather, or app-enabled controllers for $50 to $500.
Depending on the cost of utilities in your area, you could save considerably by adding these features.
Professional Lawn Sprinkler System Installers
If you have the energy, tools, and time, you could do a sprinkler system as a DIY project. However, even though you will cut the cost of labor, which is typically $36 to $50 per hour, you will likely not have a warranty and incorrectly installed heads, and controllers need more maintenance and earlier replacement.
Many will consider hiring a professional landscaper due to the size of the project.
One area you can save money is designing or mapping your lawn sprinkler system. An excellent place to start is with your lot survey, which you should have received with your home purchase. If you don’t have one, you can check our property survey cost guide to determine if it would be beneficial to get one done.
Otherwise, map out your property into zones, such as lawn, garden areas, walks, shrubs and trees, and other notable landscaping items so you and the installer will have a better idea of what heads to use in which zones and how much material you will need.
To get hassle-free estimates from professional irrigation installers in your area, use our free contractor locator. Make sure you get a written contract with warranties and either you or the landscaper check with the building inspector’s office about necessary permits.
The most time-consuming chore is watering the lawn. For those with little time to devote to this task, the next best option is hiring a landscaping service. However, that option can get very expensive, so many turn to automatic lawn sprinkler systems.
Check our lawn maintenance cost guide for more detailed information about aerating, fertilizing, and maintaining a stunning lawn.
All pricing information on this page is based on average industry costs, and is subject to variance for project-specific materials, labor rates, and requirements.