What is a garden irrigation system? Types and Setup (AVOID This!)

An irrigation system provides water to your plants in the garden. This is necessary during spring and summer. These systems can range from cheap garden hoses and plastic pieces to advanced systems. It is a quite simple, yet effective way to maintain your garden. It’s often used by farmers and homeowners to make sure that their plants are watered even during periods of drought. If you’re looking for an easy way to keep your plants healthy and well-watered, an irrigation system might just be the answer you’ve been looking for.


Structure of a garden irrigation systems

Irrigation systems typically have 5 parts: A timer, the pipes, valves, sprinkler heads, and a backflow preventer. 

The timer

Cheaper systems can work with manual control instead of a timer. You just open the faucet from time to time. More expensive systems use sensors to determine how much water each plant or tree needs to get. This allows you to save costs and use less water. More recently advanced systems have been developed to check the weather to make sure that you use water as efficiently as possible.

The pipes

For permanent systems, PVC is often used. This plastic pipe works quite well and is cheap. The diameter of the pipes can affect the water pressure so make sure that you pick pipes that are wide enough.  PVC can break when you drive over it with a car and cold weather can make it crack so you have to check it during winter. Temporary systems often use thinner and cheaper pipes (quite similar to a garden hose). 


Valves can be handy to control the system and only use water in places where it is needed. Some communities don’t allow the use of water during droughts so with valves you can make sure that only the necessary parts of your garden get water. Valves allow you to control the different zones in your garden.

It is great if your indoor plumbing and outdoor irrigation system are separated by a valve. This makes it easier to see where a leak is located. Leaks in irrigation systems can happen as these pipes are often made out of plastic. Furthermore, people tend to run over them when they are mowing the grass. 

If you use a flexible system with a garden hose, make sure to disconnect the hose during winter. This can freeze and lead to damage inside your house.

The backflow preventer

A backflow preventer makes sure that dirty water doesn’t mix with clean water. This can lead to pollution and should be avoided at all costs. Often this is included in your connector and you don’t need a separate piece for this. Bigger systems might need a separate backflow preventer. This is quite similar to the one you have in your home.

Sprinkler heads: how do they work

Some sprinkler heads can be adjusted to add more water during hot periods and less during wetter days. 

There are 2 types of sprinkler heads: pop-up or shrug types. Pop-up sprinklers hide themselves until they are activated, this is more aesthetically pleasing but they are more expensive and less durable. Shrug sprinklers are just a type of permanent pipe that acts as a sprinkler.

Some sprinkler heads can turn around as well to serve a bigger area. 

Sprinkler heads can get clogged by chalk if you have hard water. You might have to clean them with vinegar from time to time. 

Water has generally enough pressure but if you want to send water to the back of your garden and there is a big slope, you might have to add a water pump. This makes the system more complex but is only needed for big installations. Water pumps are quite cheap so you might consider adding one if you don’t have enough water pressure.

Drip irrigation

Next to sprinkler heads, there are also irrigation systems that drip the water next to the plants. This can save water and make the irrigation system more precise. This works great when you have smaller plants. It can be more work to install this though as you have to run the pipes closer to the plants. So depending on your garden and preferences, this might be a better option than a sprinkler system.

Drip irrigation can also be nicely hidden whereas sprinklers are more visible. It can be cool to look at sprinklers but some people don’t want to see them in action. A drip system is a better option then.

How to Choose the Right Irrigation System

There are a lot of irrigation systems on the market, so figuring out which one is the best for your garden can be confusing. To help you decide, here are a few things to consider when choosing an irrigation system:

Cost: It’s important to consider how much you’re willing to spend on an irrigation system.  You want to make sure that the cost of installation is worth the savings in water and time.  It would also be a good idea to consider any additional cost, such as running repairs or maintenance.

Lifespan: The lifespan of an irrigation system will vary depending on which type you choose. For example, if you pick a simpler system with fewer moving parts, it’s more likely that it’ll last longer than a complex system with many moving parts.

Ease of use: You don’t want to waste time trying to figure out how your new irrigation system works! It’s important that the system is simple and easy to use so that it doesn’t become another chore.

What Do I Need to Know about Installation and Maintenance?

The installation and maintenance of an irrigation system is rather simple.


If you are installing your own irrigation system, you’ll need to factor in the cost of materials, as well as pipe, trenching, and labor. Your area may also require permits for house connection and fees for water usage.


Maintaining your irrigation system is quite easy and inexpensive. There are three types of maintenance that should be done on your system after installation–cleaning the sprinkler heads, shutting off the water in winter, and ensuring the right amount of water pressure. You can also check valves for drips or leaks, replace sprinkler heads with a more appropriate one that fits your garden size and type, replace worn-out parts like hoses or belts if needed, trim weeds away from your pipes or valves as they could restrict water flow or damage them.


You might know that watering your lawn or garden can be a time-consuming, tedious task. But what if your home already came equipped with an irrigation system? An irrigation system is a system that delivers water in a controlled manner to plants and landscapes. It’s designed to automate the watering process, and it could save you time and money.

An irrigation system typically includes:


-Sprinkler heads



-Drip systems

-A timer

Does your property need an irrigation system? Whether you have a large yard or a small patio, we can help you determine the best irrigation solution for your needs.

We have discussed some common problems with sprinkler irrigation systems here.