We all want that gorgeous, green lawn! Gorgeous, green lawns require a lot of water, especially in the middle of the summer. It is hard to get every corner consistently with a hose, lawn sprinkler, and manual labor. The obvious solution? Get a sprinkler system! But, what is the sprinkler system cost per acre?
I remember the first time I got a quote from a lawn company to install a sprinkler system. Talk about sticker shock! I had to sit down. Suddenly, dragging that little sprinkler all over the lawn all summer didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
So, what does it really cost to hire someone to put a sprinkler system in your yard? What are the costs involved if you do it yourself? Is it worth it to hire a professional? Let’s check out sprinkler systems, both professional and DIY, from every angle!
What Does it Cost to Have a Sprinkler System Installed by a Professional on 1 Acre?
How much is a sprinkler system for a 1 acre yard? According to House Logic, a professionally installed sprinkler system can cost anywhere from $3,000-$4,000 for a ¼ acre yard. So, for a one-acre lawn, multiply that times four. You’re looking at $12,000-$16,000 cost to irrigate per acre.
Home Advisor gives a slightly more conservative estimate for a one acre lawn. They estimate the average cost for a sprinkler installation on a one-acre yard is $10,280.
What Do I Need to Know About Professional Sprinkler Systems?
Obviously, hiring someone to install your sprinkler system for you will save you a lot of time and labor. This is the primary reason that most people don’t install their own sprinkler systems. A sprinkler system company will come in with a professional design and execute that design.
Depending on your yard, and the system you choose, a professional should be able to complete your sprinkler system in about 2-5 days.
Also, most professional sprinkler companies will include some kind of warranty or guarantee on their work. Often, they will offer a maintenance package of some sort so that you never need to worry about repairs or replacements.
That price tag, though! Professional lawn and sprinkler companies charge a pretty penny for their materials and labor. Be prepared for sticker shock.
If you have a specific idea about how you want to irrigate your lawn, a professional may be willing to work with you, but they will probably have their own ideas, too. You may not get the sprinkler system of your dreams if someone else designs and installs it for you.
What Does it Cost to Install a Sprinkler System Yourself?
DIY sprinkler installation is significantly less expensive. In fact, you will find that it is a fraction of the cost of a professional installation. Your cost will be between $2,600-$6,000 for a one acre yard to install your sprinkler system yourself.
DIY Sprinkler System Costs
What exactly are you paying for? Here is a line-by-line breakdown of the typical expenses for a basic DIY sprinkler system. This is just a rough guide. You may find extra costs along the way. Leave a little room in the budget for surprises.
Supplies and Tools
- Trenching Tool/Supplies. Trenching tools are available for rent. Trust me; you will want to use one of these handy tools! They are worth the rental expense at $100-$160 per day. You will also need paint, line, and chalk to lay out your trenches. These supplies should cost $10-$20.
- PVC Pipe. Regular ½ -1” PVC pipe is only about $0.25 a foot. If your trenches don’t run in a straight line, consider flex PVC pipe, which is about $1.00 per foot.
- Sprinkler Heads. There are a wide variety of sprinkler heads available! Along with this variety comes an array of prices. Budget for anywhere from $10-$30 per head, depending on which type you choose.
- Timers. The timer will start and stop your sprinkler system according to your schedule. A simple manual timer will cost $35-$55. A digital timer will be anywhere from $80-$180. There are smart timers available that you can operate from your smartphone!
- Flex Tubing. You will need flex tubing to run from the pipes up to the sprinkler heads. A 50’ roll of tubing should be enough for a one acre lawn at $17-$25.
- Valves. You will need a valve for each zone in your sprinkler system. Valves are $12-30 each.
- Manifolds. Manifolds disperse the water from the main to each of your zones. You need one per zone at $45-$60 each.
- Water Filter. An irrigation water filter will cost $60-$120.
Permits and Installation Expenses
- Electrician. Unless you are a professional electrician, I highly recommend hiring a professional electrician to run the wires from your system to the timer. This should take 3-5 hours. Depending on your area, most electricians charge about $90-$120 per hour.
- Plumber. Many locations require a plumber’s license to connect the water main from your home to the sprinkler system. Hire a plumber to do this task at $250-$500.
- Plans (if desired). If you order plans from either Rain Bird or Toro, the plans will cost between $25-$40, depending on the size and specifications of your yard.
- Permits. Depending on where you live, you may need both electrical and plumbing permits. Check with your city or county for specific numbers. If you are putting together a rough estimate, these permits could be anywhere from $50-$200.
What Do I Need to Know About DIY Installation?
First of all, the price to DIY your sprinkler system is a fraction of what you would spend to hire a professional. This is a huge incentive for a homeowner on a budget.
Second, you have the freedom to design and implement your sprinkler system to your ideal specifications. The skies are the limit!
Installing a sprinkler system, especially on a large, one-acre yard, is very time and labor intensive. Be prepared to devote many, many weekends to a project of this magnitude.
If you are not familiar with the ins and outs of sprinkler installation, there may be an element of trial and error. You will probably make mistakes that may cost you both time and money. You will also be responsible for all repairs and maintenance on your DIY system.
DIY Sprinkler System Considerations
What exactly are you getting yourself into? A DIY sprinkler system may sound a bit daunting, but if you are organized and willing, it is very achievable!
All large projects run more smoothly if they include a solid, detailed plan. Your sprinkler project is no different.
Most lawns, especially large lawns, require a multi-zone sprinkler system. What’s a zone? A zone is a specific area of the yard that has its own watering requirements. The sprinklers in a zone are programmed to hit just that area with a specific amount of water.
Planning for multiple zones may require the aid of a professional designer. I recommend seeking the design help of either Rain Bird or Toro. Both companies are able to design plans based on the specifications of your yard. Even if you are not looking for a complex sprinkler system, a design and plan may be extremely helpful.
Sprinkler system installation is a time-consuming process. How much time it takes will depend on several factors, including:
- The shape of your yard and landscaping areas
- Number of zones
- The type of sprinklers you use (above ground, drip, etc.)
- Your expertise
If you are a weekend warrior, be prepared to devote several weekends to this project! If you don’t have the time, it may be best to consider other options.
You will need to obtain a permit before you install your sprinkler system. If you are part of a Homeowners Association (HOA), check with them for any neighborhood requirements. Permits and regulations will vary according to location, so it is important to learn about your area’s rules before you get started.
When is it Better to Hire a Professional?
If you are extremely busy and do not have the time to devote to this kind of project, a professional may be the way to go. Sometimes, time is money.
If you have priced out all your supplies and get a $1,000 or less quote above your projected expenses, that may be a deal worthy of your hard-earned money!
There is nothing like the feeling of a job well done. If you are an ambitious DIY-er with a solid plan and plenty of time, you should be able to install your own sprinkler system. This will save you a lot of money in the long run!
If you are short on time but not on cash, it may be worth it to hire a trusted professional to install a sprinkler system for you. They will usually set up a winterization and maintenance program for a completely worry-free irrigation system.