Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Irrigation System Design

by | Aug 23, 2023

Although lawn sprinkler systems have common elements like sprinkler heads, irrigation lines, sensors, and controllers, irrigation system design is more than just an out-of-the-box solution. A design customized to fit your property ensures you get results and a return on your investment in a sprinkler system. If you’re considering a new sprinkler system or want to modify your existing layout, here are answers to frequently asked questions about the irrigation system design process. 

How Do Sprinkler Heads Work? 

Water propels out from the sprinkler head, not directly down. The base of the sprinkler distributes minimal water. And although you may think most of the watering happens at the outer edge of the sprinkler head, the final third of the radius delivers about half of the water distributed in the first two-thirds. Because the sprinkler head has a range of watering capabilities, an effective irrigation system design will use combinations of sprinklers to eliminate uneven watering. 

What’s a Good Sprinkler Head Layout? 

A head-to-head design is useful in rectangular areas because the spray from one sprinkler hits the next sprinkler on the head. The head-to-head sprinkler layout with circle sprinklers around the perimeter of a site helps minimize water runoff because the water stays in your yard. For non-rectangular areas, the irrigation system designer will often align sprinkler heads so that the spray from the first sprinkler reaches the third and covers the entire area.

Why Use Different Sprinkler Heads?

The irrigation system design ensures every area of your yard gets watered, and sprinkler heads help deliver the right amount of water. The designer will recommend sprinkler head styles to meet the requirements of your landscaping and available water supply. Each head has a gallons-per-minute (GPM) rating that they can produce with your property’s water pressure. For example, pop-up-style lawn sprinkler heads, installed just below ground level, are adjustable to distribute water according to the irrigation system design. Shrub sprinklers are usually taller for use in flower and foliage beds. The designer will also recommend using the same type of sprinkler heads in each hydro zone to maximize water pressure. 

How Does Irrigation System Design Adjust for Hilly Areas?

Water can puddle or pool around sprinklers installed at the bottom of slopes or hills, creating soggy areas that may kill grass or encourage fungus growth. Your irrigation system designer may recommend sprinkler heads with lower drainage or rotary sprayers that deliver water more slowly. Each approach provides time for water to soak into your landscape with minimal to no runoff.   

Does Irrigation System Design Manage Watering in Sunny and Shady Areas?

Yes! Because most yards have different sunlight exposure, over or under-watering can quickly happen with a one-size-fits-all approach to sprinkler system design. Irrigation system design can include multiple, independent, and easily set controllers to program additional watering cycles for high sun areas. And drip irrigation or low-volume drip sprinklers enable customized, precise water delivery to shady areas. 

Is Irrigation System Design Necessary for Smaller Yards?

Even small areas are difficult to water evenly without an appropriate irrigation system design, and you can see more water on sidewalks, driveways, houses, or garages than on the lawn. Designers can incorporate low-volume sprinkler heads and build a square watering pattern. Sprinkler nozzles can spray efficiently and precisely to cover corners, oddly shaped areas, and small strips of lawn. 

Talk with Sanderson & DeHaan about Your Irrigation System Design Needs!

Installing an effective irrigation system requires knowledge of physics, design, and water dynamics, and partnering with design experts like Sanderson & DeHaan will help you get a lawn you’ll love. Contact us today to schedule a time to review your property and answer questions about design and installation.  


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Sanderson & DeHaan Irrigation
5797 South 12th Street
Portage, MI 49024

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