Many factors determine the cost of a sprinkler system: This article should explain the variables and the ranges you can expect if you’re considering a new sprinkler system for your home or business.
We’ve installed thousands of sprinkler systems in S.E Michigan over the years. Some systems were little, (10 sprinkler heads or less and only 1 or 2 zones). The larger systems we’ve installed were over 10 full acres of lawn with hundreds of sprinkler heads and over 50 zones. Neither of these systems are typical for us, so when discussing the cost of a sprinkler system, I’ll focus on our average house and lot size.
A typical size lawn in S.E. Michigan
Most subdivisions or neighborhood lots in Macomb, Oakland, Lapeer and Genesee counties are between .20 and 1 acre. In order to be efficient, our goal is always to keep the water on your property and not to spray things that don’t require water ie: the driveway, sidewalks, the road, your house, the neighbors yard, your patio, deck, etc… The size of the lawn does impact the cost, but it’s not as simple as that.
Number of sprinkler heads
One of the biggest factors that will determine the price of your new system is the number of sprinkler heads needed to do the job. Almost always, more material = more cost. More sprinkler heads means more pipe, more fitting and more labor to install them. **One important thing to note here is that a bigger yard does NOT necessarily mean more sprinkler heads. A big wide open yard can have a few large sprinkler heads covering it, while a narrow skinny side yard can have many small sprinkler heads. It all depends on the layout of your property.
The number of zones needed
The number of zones needed will affect the cost of your sprinkler system. A zone is a group of sprinklers that run at the same time. For example a sprinkler system with 30 heads could be divided into as few as 3 zones or as many as 10 zones. It depends on several factors including the water supply, water pressure, the amount of sun/shade in the yard, the type of heads, how far the heads need to spray, etc…
The quality of the components
Some people overlook quality and assume that all sprinkler systems are created equal. They are not! You can get a sprinkler system with the same number of heads and zones and still have a 30% cost difference if the material is not the same. Around ⅓ – ½ of a sprinkler systems installation price is the cost of the materials. Just like buying paint, furniture, appliances and cars, you can get the bargain quality stuff that only lasts a couple years, or get the premium stuff which lasts longer and has features that will help save you money forever. For example, a Rachio smart wifi sprinkler controller is twice the cost of a regular old Rainbird or Hunter digital garage mounted one. In another example, the premium Rainbird rotor sprinkler heads are double the cost of the builder grade ones most contractors use. Even the quality of the pipe, wire, clamps, valves, plumbing, and fittings, make a difference in the overall price.
Something I realized years ago was that the labor to install the premium material is the same as the bargain stuff, so even though better material makes the system cost more, it’s still a better value in the long run because the better material will reduce the number of service calls over the years and also save you water because they are more efficient.
Your water supply
Your water supply is where your sprinklers system gets its water from. Is your home’s water supply on city water, a private well, a lake or pond?
- City water pressure and flow rates vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.
- All water wells perform differently from one another. The number of zones in a system is usually depending on the water pressure and GPM flow that the water supply offers.
In General, wells and city water plumbing are similar in price. However, If you’re planning on pumping from a lake, pond or river you can expect to add at least $1000-$1400 in additional cost due to the cost of the pump, suction line, and the additional 220V electrical needed to install it. The advantage however is that there will be no water bill, and no hard water stains like iron or calcium coming from that source.
New Construction vs. Existing Lawn
Installing a sprinkler system at a new construction home site is less expensive than an existing home with a lawn because there is not a lawn to clean up and put back together. The material needed is the same, but the man hours required to install and clean up is slightly more. Installing a sprinkler system in an existing lawn will add approximately 10-15% more cost than new construction.
Adding a shrub zone to your system means you’ll have a specific zone created just for the landscape beds. In many cases this means tall spray heads or drip irrigation located in the beds that you can control independently of the lawn zones. This helps you add just the right amount of water to those zones without worrying about getting too much or too little water. This can add $350-$550 to the cost of your system.
Some cities and townships in S.E Michigan require permits for doing the plumbing needed for a sprinkler system. They can range anywhere from $50-$150. In addition to permits, many cities also require backflow testing to be done by a certified plumber. Backflow testing usually costs around $100. If you are on city water in one of these cities, we’ll probably have to add these fees to your estimate. For the areas we work, the average cost is around $220 for both permits and backflow testing. If you can use your own well or lake pump these fees are usually not required.
Difficulty of the job
The difficulty of your job can have a small impact on your sprinkler installation cost too. Things that make the job difficult to install are fences, narrow areas that our equipment can’t get into, excessive tree roots, lots of buried utilities, hard ground, steep hills, and invisible dog fences.
Summary and averages
Considering all the factors I’ve listed above, as well as the average size yards in our area and that most of the systems we install are using premium components and smart WiFi technology. Our new sprinkler systems in 2019 ranged from $2,900 – $7,500 with the median price being around $4,200.
If you’re interested in a free lawn sprinkler design and estimate for your home please click here to fill out the contact form on our site and we’ll be happy to set up a call with you!