Mistakes and Learnings


Sprinkler Head Cleanliness (Also Solenoids)

Please do not cut the pipe with an angle grinder. It fills the pipe with rubbish, that will get into the sprinkler heads and affect performance. Use conduit cutters. And if you know where my conduit cutters are, please let me know. Also, clean all sprinkler heads after their first use. The picture below shows the rubbish that was in the pipes. Some of this is dirt, and some is plastic. Regardless, it needs to be removed. And if you don’t, you will think you need to add more sprinkler heads.

Solenoid Location Is Critical

Deciding where to install the solenoids is critical. I was going to mount the front solenoids underground in the lawn, but decided to install them on the side of the house for improved access. I ended up installing them in a location that was accessible but generally hidden from view. Often the location will be a trade off between water supply, pipework length, power supply and access. Also consider alternate water supplies when planning.

Alternate Water Supplies – Grey Water

There are three potential supplies for my system. Only one is connected at the moment. They should be considered when planning the system. They are:

  • Fresh water from the mains
  • Rain Water
  • Grey Water – Showers and washing machine. UPDATE: Do NOT use grey water for irrigation. Particularly for sprinklers.

Buy Adjustable Coverage Sprinklers

Surprisingly sprinkler heads that you can adjust from 0-360 degrees are the same price as sectorized ones. So, but the adjustable ones. Simple.

Pipe Size

I installed 19mm pipe for ‘mains’ and 13mm pipe for individual sprinklers. That is, if I was splitting off for a single sprinkler, I would use 13mm pipe. Else, I would use 19mm pipe. This ensured that any water pressure issues were minimised. Probably overkill, but this is how I designed my system.

Use Tent Pegs to hold down Pipes

Just cheap pegs, and maybe only every few meters. But I wish I had done this. It would have made it easier when I was having to dig up sections to add more pipes.

Use Yoga Mats for dirt

What? I have a couple of yoga mats to work under cars, and used them to put dirt onto when I was digging in the lawn. This helped me get most of the dirt back into the hole it came out of. Otherwise, this is surprisingly hard.

Buy a Trenching Shovel

They can be rather cheap, but are amazing. I used one with a crowbar to dig up my lawn, and wished I had bought one years ago. Seriously, it was only $16. This saved me so much work.

Plan. Plan. Plan.

I thought I had planned everything I wanted, and even then I was making changes all the time. Without a plan, there will be a LOT of wasted work. I think only two of the sectors are exactly how I designed them. Some of this is because my garden is an odd shape, and other bits are because I didn’t have enough overlap between sprinklers. I also assumed I could run too many sprinklers at once, and also didn’t realise that the sprinklers were getting blocked with plastic residue from angle grinding.

Decide what else you are wanting to do

As part of this, I decided that I wanted to add some more CCTV cameras onto my network. This would include a couple of cameras at the front of the house, and one out the back. The ones out the front would be both looking forward from the letter box to the street, and looking back towards the house. There would be one out the back looking towards the house.

I decided I really didn’t want a network cable in my garden, so assumed I would run the cameras from 12V. Therefore, when digging up the garden, I also installed conduits for power. This allowed me to connect WiFi enabled security cameras to my home network. I have yet to actually install the cameras, but they are coming. The one out the back in particular will provide a single unified view of the entire yard.