Common Sprinkler System Components

Sprinkler heads. Different types of heads are designed for different parts of the yard. Installing the wrong head type in the wrong place or installing the heads too far apart reduces system efficiency and performance. Unfortunately, these practices also reduce the cost and work associated with installing the system. Some less-reputable contractors routinely install cheaper systems with too few sprinkler heads and/or the wrong type of sprinkler heads. When evaluating proposals, make sure you are comparing them equally.

Zones. A sprinkler system zone is a portion of the overall system that can be turned on and off independently from the rest of the system. Most systems are made up of multiple zones for two primary reasons. The first is water pressure. The amount and pressure of the water entering the home from the street main limit the amount and pressure of water a sprinkler system can apply to the yard. If all zones of the system were turned on at the same time, there would probably not be enough water and pressure to run the system correctly. Watering a portion of the yard at a time eliminates this problem. The second reason for using zones is to vary the amount of water applied to different areas. To keep the yard looking its best and limit wasted water, it is very important to deliver the right amount of water to the right place. By designing the zones around the yard’s landscaping, one can adjust the amount of water supplied to different components.

Timers. The timer or controller is the brain of the sprinkler system. Most modern timers turn the water on and off in different zones, according to the time of day and day of the week. Additionally, most timers allow the homeowner to control how much water is applied to each zone. By properly programming the timer so that no area of the yard is over- or underwatered, the homeowner can maintain the beauty of the landscape while minimizing the water cost.

Rain sensors. Rain sensors conserve water by preventing system operation during or following a heavy rain, when the ground is saturated and needs no additional irrigation. These sensors will also extend the life of the system by avoiding unnecessary use.