Joe Swett
By Published On: March 6th, 2019Comments Off on Mistakes to Avoid Installing or Upgrading an Irrigation and Sprinkler System34.4 min read

In Tampa Bay, installing an irrigation and sprinkler system is a wise investment of time and money so you can enjoy the many benefits of living here. When setting up or upgrading a commercial or home irrigation system, there are quite a few things that could potentially go wrong. DIY is not necessarily the ideal choice to get a quality system that works correctly. Many businesses, homeowners and gardeners are turning to automatic irrigation to keep their beloved flowers, plants and grass watered. An automated irrigation system gives people the freedom to not worry about all of their lawn or flowers receiving adequate water.

The professionals can make installing an irrigation system relatively easy and affordable but there are a few things that can potentially go wrong. Here is a list of irrigation mistakes people make while setting up their new systems so you can avoid them.

Digging without checking

You don’t check for gas pipes or electrical cables prior to digging. It is very dangerous if you hit an electrical cable. You can get electrocuted or possibly electrically charge the whole sprinkler system. If you hit a gas pipe, you can start a fire. ALWAYS check for the location of gas pipes or electrical cables in your yard before digging sprinkler pipe trenches.

Depth of pipe trenches

A big mistake that people make is putting the pipe trenches either too deep or too shallow. Pipe trenches for an in-ground sprinkler system need to be at least 7 inches underground and no more than 10 inches. If the pipe is less than 7 inches underground, the PVC pipe is susceptible to the weight of anything above ground and could develop cracks. If the pipe is deeper than 10 inches, it may be difficult to tell if the pipe is broken or cracked and it will take some work to dig them up.

Watering grass and beds together

Taking a shortcut can be to set up the irrigation system to water planters and shrubs together with grass. This is a problem. Trees, shrubs, and ground covers have large and extensive root systems as compared to grass so they only require about half the water. That is why planters and shrubs should be watered separately from grass. They do not need as much water as the grass.

Sprinkler heads operating in same zone

Different sprinkler heads operating at the same time in the same zone. Different sprinkler heads – rotors, sprays, bubbles, drip – have different rates of precipitation. If you place different sprinkler heads in the same zone, you run the risk of having dry spots in a watered area, which means you will have to run this zone longer and spend more money.

Incomplete coverage of irrigation head zones

Every irrigation head has a maximum distance in which it can reach so you need to accurately measure and install the irrigation system so you have full coverage.

Heads running same amount of time

Since different sprinkler heads have different rates of precipitation, they shouldn’t all be set to run for the same amount of time. If more water comes out of the head, then that zone can run for a shorter time. If less water comes out of the head, then that zone needs to run for a longer time.


Overspray means that the sprinkler head sprays water outside the landscaped area – onto driveways, sidewalks, or your neighbor’s property. Overspray can result in wasting enough water to fill an average hot tub. By reducing or eliminating overspray, you can conserve money and water.

No rain shut off device

Do your sprinklers still run during a rain storm or after a lot of rain has fallen? If it’s raining or it has recently rained, you don’t need to be running your irrigation system. If your sprinkler system is old, you can update it to include a rain shut off device. Most new sprinkler systems already include a rain shut off and you could actually face fines if you don’t have one.

Here is an article on Rainbird sprinkler systems with times and control devices. A rain shutoff device allows for the irrigation system to shut off during periods of high rainfall, or when irrigation is not necessary.

Not knowing about current technology

Going the DIY route, you may not be up on the latest technology available. If you go with a professional irrigation and sprinkler company, they will have the latest equipment that can maximize your investment.

For example, Sunrise Irrigation and Sprinkler Company has just swapped out all of their irrigation heads to be 100% pressure regulating for water conservation! By doing this, they have a company goal to save 20 million gallons of water by the end of 2019!

100% Pressure Regulating Irrigation Heads are one of the newest in equipment for an irrigation company. “Many irrigation systems have excessive pressure for the type of equipment that has been installed. Over-pressurization can lead to water losses and contribute to uneven watering. Pressure-regulating spray heads are designed to regulate pressure for optimal performance. Pressure-regulating spray heads include built-in regulators that maintain a more constant pressure for optimal nozzle performance. Typically for spray nozzles, 30 psi provides the best performance. For rotary nozzles the preferred operating pressure is 40-45 psi. Correct nozzle pressure helps the nozzles distribute the water more evenly and reduces water waste caused by excessive pressure,” states

“DIY” a System – Hire a Professional

There are so many moving parts and variables with installing a sprinkler system in Tampa. It is best to hire a professional that does this daily and knows all of the ins and outs. Florida grasses and climate is not for a novice to navigate. Bring in a professional irrigation and sprinkler company to help guide you so you don’t waste valuable time and money getting the lawn you want. Also consider a maintenance plan to protect your investment and always have your system running efficiently and properly.

Looking for a top irrigation and sprinkler company in Tampa Bay? Sunrise Irrigation & Sprinklers is honored by the feedback they receive from their customers, peers, and business rating systems. They also go the extra mile to partner with the best vendors and trade organizations for knowledge and support.

At Sunrise Irrigation & Sprinklers, we know sprinkler installation and repair, landscape lighting and all-natural mosquito control and more. Our highly qualified, fully licensed and insured specialists have been beautifying residential and commercial landscapes in Palm Harbor and the Tampa Bay area for more than 20 years. As an established, family-owned irrigation management business, we believe that keeping Florida homes and businesses looking their best begins with a healthy lawn. Give us a call at 727-261-0521 or schedule an initial consultation to discuss how we can help your lawn become lusher, greener, and healthier.

About the Author: Joe Swett

Former U.S. Coast Guard and Tampa-native Joseph Swett is the owner of Sunrise Irrigation, a Palm Harbor-based company that has been providing sprinkler and irrigation services in the Tampa Bay Area, Florida, for more than 20 years. A RainBird-trained landscape specialist, Mr. Swett is dedicated to helping Florida homes and businesses implement effective irrigation technologies and transition towards smart water conservation. In his spare time, Joe sponsors and plays in two men’s softball leagues, but also enjoys surfing and going fishing with his family.


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