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Install an irrigation system

Do you want to save time, money and water? And have a gorgeous lawn and garden into the bargain? Take an eco-friendly approach to landscape hydration and install a sprinkler system. Ensure the health of your lawn, vegetable garden and plants with a system that takes human error out of the equation. Go away for the weekend with a clear conscience! This project is not difficult, although you will need some plumbing basics.

Pre-installation steps

The following steps are intended to accompany the Planning Guide. Print out the PDF document so you can note all the necessary measurements and information.

Before you get started, go to your local municipal offices to ascertain:

  • If there are any existing regulations governing the installation of irrigation systems.
  • If a building permit is required.
  • What kind of backflow preventer is recommended.
  • If the installation project requires a professional.
  • Contact all utility companies (gas, electricity, telephone, cable) in your area to find out if there are any buried wires or cables on your property.

Map out the irrigation system

  • 1.1 - Mark the sprinkler head locations with small flags or stakes.
  • 1.2 - Paint the locations (on the ground) for the sprinkler pipe lines.
  • 1.3 - Verify that the pipe installation will not interfere with underground utilities.
  • 1.4 - Clearly map out each watering zone.

Install the backflow preventer

  • 2.1 - Locate the main water supply line. If below-ground, dig deep enough to expose it. Note that some water supply lines are located in the basement.
  • 2.2 - Shut off the water at the water main. The knob is often located next to the meter.
  • 2.3 - In the house, relieve the water pressure by opening one or more faucets until the water has completely drained.
  • 2.4 - Choose a location downstream from the meter for the new connection for the irrigation system. Clean the exterior of the pipe before cutting.
  • 2.5 - Splice in a T-connector onto the main water line, which can be either PVC or copper. If the main water supply line is copper, solder on a copper T-connector.
  • 2.6 - Glue a 90o PVC elbow onto a male PVC adapter.
  • 2.7 - Thread the adapter into the T - connector installed on the main water line.
  • 2.8 - Install the backflow preventer device according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • 2.9 - Dig a trench from the main water supply line to the location for the spigot valve box and install the PVC pipes.


Certain municipalities require you to hire a professional to ensure that your installation conforms with local building codes (Chapter III, Plumbing, of the Quebec Construction Code and/or local municipal regulations) and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Install the box and pre-assembled valve

  • 3.1 - Dig a hole approximately 18" deep and 2' to 3' long for the valve access box. The cover of the box should be ground level.
  • 3.2 - Line the hole with 2" of gravel and then set the valve box into the hole.
  • 3.3 - Open the main shut off valve to flush debris out of the main line of the sprinkler system.
  • 3.4 - Install a stop valve to cut the water supply to the irrigation system and the drain valve in order to drain the irrigation lines in the fall.
  • 3.5 - Connect the main water supply line to the pre-assembled valve. The diameter of the PVC pipe must be one size larger than that of the main supply line.
  • 3.6 - Connect a 1" pipe to each valve and run to each designated zone.
  • 3.7 - Dig a shallow trench from the valve box to the location for the timer. Lay out the 24-volt underground wire in the trench.

Install the pipes

  • Assemble PVC piping:
  • 4.1 - Apply PTFE (Teflon) tape to the threaded (male) pipe end.
  • Glue the PVC pipes:
  • 4.1 - Clean the pipe end and the inside wall of the connector collar.
  • 4.2 - Apply PVC primer to the ends, both inside and out.
  • 4.3 - Apply PVC cement everywhere primer was applied. The primer and cement combine to weld the pieces of PVC together.
  • 4.4 - Insert the pipe end into the connector using a twisting motion and hold the assembly in place for at least 30 seconds.
  • 4.5 - Wipe off any excess solvent.
  • 4.6 - Allow the pipe to dry for at least 15 minutes before allowing water to pass through.
  • Assemble polypropylene piping:
  • 4.1 - Slide stainless steel adjustable clamps over the ends of the pipes to be connected.
  • 4.2 - Connect the pipes.
  • 4.3 - Tighten the adjustable clamps.

Install the pipes

  • 5.1 - Dig trenches along the lines painted on the ground: 12" deep for the header line and 6" for the lateral lines.
  • 5.2 - Install the PVC pipes for 100% coverage over all (watering) zones.
  • 5.3 - Use connectors to join pipes.
  • 5.4 - Install tees and elbows at all sprinkler locations.
  • 5.5 - Install caps at the ends of header and lateral lines.


Remove soil and sod from the trenches onto a tarp to make filling and patching easier once you’re finished.

Install the sprinkler heads

  • 6.1 - Install risers at each sprinkler head location.
  • 6.2 - Connect each sprinkler head to the appropriate riser.
  • 6.3 - Adjust the sprinkler head to the correct height in relation to the ground around it.
  • 6.4 - Fill in with sufficient soil to temporarily stabilize the sprinkler heads.
  • 6.5 - Turn on the main valve to test the system.
  • 6.6 - Manually turn on each individual valve one at a time to check for leaks.
  • 6.7 - Make sure the sprinkler head spray radii are large enough to overlap.
  • 6.8 - Turn off the main valve.

Install the timer

  • 7.1 - Remove power before undertaking any connection procedure.
  • 7.2 - Secure the automatic timer to the exterior wall of the house.
  • 7.3 - Strip the insulation from the ends of the 24-volt wires that lead from the zone valves to the timer.
  • 7.4 - Connect one wire from each valve to the white (common) sprinkler wire.
  • 7.5 - Connect the 2nd wire from each valve to a separate colored wire.
  • 7.6 - Before wiring the sprinkler timer into the system, disconnect it from the power source.
  • 7.7 - Connect each colored sprinkler wire to a separate numbered terminal on the timer.
  • 7.8 - Connect the white (common) wire to the common terminal on the timer.
  • 7.9 - Restore power to the timer.
  • 7.10 - Test the wiring by manually running each station from the timer.
  • 7.11 - Set the timer and run a test to make sure that each zone and all the sprinklers are operating properly.


In Québec, any connection to the electrical supply box must be completed by an electrician.

Bury the pipes and valves

  • 8.1 - Check all connectors, fittings, heads, and valves for leaks.
  • 8.2 - Adjust each sprinkler head to the proper level as recommended by the manufacturer. Generally speaking, sprinkler heads should not extend more than 1" above ground.
  • 8.3 - Adjust each sprinkler head for the proper spray pattern and spray distance.
  • 8.4 - Cover the pipes with the soil removed for the trenches then either replace the sods or reseed.
  • 8.5 - Protect the valves with weather-resistant boxes.

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