Sprinkler Installation Costs: The Ultimate Guide

A new sprinkler system can make your yard the envy of your neighborhood with little to no effort on your part. However, is the cost of installing a sprinkler worth it? If you’re thinking of putting a sprinkler system in your yard, we’re going over everything there is to know about the costs associated with them, the benefits they pose, and what to look for to get a lush, healthy lawn.

Factors That Influence Installation Cost 

There are several factors that influence the cost of sprinkler installation, including:

  • Lawn size
  • Number of zones
  • System type
  • Quality and brand of the system
  • Number and type of sprinkler heads
  • Existing plumbing
  • Labor costs
  • Soil type(s)

Average Costs of Installing a Sprinkler System

average costs

Since there are so many cost-influencing factors for installing a sprinkler system, it can be difficult to accurately estimate your final cost. However, most homeowners pay in the ballpark of $2000 to $4000 for an irrigation system.

Average Cost Ranges

The average cost for a sprinkler system in the U.S. is around $2500. It will cost more or less, however, depending on the size of your lawn, the complexity of your system, and the materials you choose to use. Single-zone systems could cost as little as $400, while more complex sprinkler systems can run you around $10,000 per acre.

Sprinkler systems range in price from $0.20 to $1.00 per square foot. To estimate the cost of a sprinkler system for your lawn, multiply the area of your yard (length times width, minus the area taken up by your house) by $0.40, which is an average cost per square foot in many areas.

This measurement will give you a basic idea of how much your sprinkler system will cost, although your final cost will likely vary depending on many factors.

Costs for Installing Sprinklers in Various Locations

The biggest factors that go into the cost of a sprinkler system are the size of your lawn, materials, and labor costs. The cost of labor varies widely across the United States, so your overall cost can vary depending on your location.

Here are some average price ranges in major U.S. cities, according to Home Advisor.

Location Average Typical Range Min and Max 
Miami, Florida $1,562 $801 to $2,436 $180 to $3,744
Denver, Colorado $2,500 $1,630 to $3,469 $375 to $5,000
Charleston, South Carolina $2,177 $1,420 to $2,934 $235 to $4,000
Houston, Texas $2,228 $1,759 to $2,740 $907 to $3,640
Spokane, Washington $2,967 $2,195 to $3,910 $1,300 to $5,057
New York, New York $2,216 $1,652 to $2,779 $800 to $3,900

Sprinkler System Cost Estimates by Lawn Size

As mentioned above, your lawn size is the biggest influence in the price of your sprinkler system. Lawn sizes range from very small (sub-1000 square feet) to extra large (half an acre or larger).

Here are some estimates for sprinkler systems by lawn size, according to Inch Calculator.

Size of Lawn Square Feet Cost per square foot Min and Max
Very small lawns 1,000 sf $0.25 to $0.50 $252 to 504
Small lawns 2,500 sf $0.22 to $0.44 $554 to $1109
Medium lawns 5,000 sf (about ⅛ acre) $0.21 to $0.42 $1,058 to $2,118
Medium to large lawns 10,000 sf (about ¼ acre) $0.21 to $0.42 $2,065 to $4,135
Large lawns 20,000 sf (about ½ acre) $0.20 to $0.41 $4,080 to $8,170
Extra large lawns Over 40,000 sf (about one acre) $0.20 to $0.41 $7,867 to $15,753

Cost Estimates by Sprinkler Types

The type of sprinkler system you choose affects the overall cost of your project. You can choose between in-ground, drip, above-ground, and smart sprinkler systems.

In-ground Sprinkler Systems

in-ground sprinkler systemin-ground sprinkler system

In-ground sprinkler systems average around $2500 for installation, typically between $2000 to $4000. This type of sprinkler runs around $10,000 per acre.

In-ground systems are the most common irrigation systems in the U.S., compromising a network of underground pipes and programmable timers that deliver water to different zones in your yard.

Drip Irrigation Systems

drip irrigationdrip irrigation

Drip irrigation systems are the most efficient in terms of water use. They deliver water through underground holes or above-ground pipes.

These systems in lawns are normally subsurface systems that deliver water in pressurized pipes. While they can reduce water usage by up to 50%, they’re more difficult to maintain than in-ground irrigation systems.

Drip systems are most commonly used to water gardens, shrubs, plants, and trees. For small purposes like these, the average price of a drip sprinkler system is around $490, typically between $295 and $775.

Above-Ground Sprinkler Systems

above-ground sprinkler systemabove-ground sprinkler system

Like in-ground sprinklers, above-ground lawn irrigation systems are comprised of a network of pipes, timers, and sprinkler heads.

They’re much less expensive than in-ground systems, however, averaging between $1800 and $2000 per acre. They’re also easier to install, move, and maintain.

However, some people find them less aesthetically pleasing and they can be more prone to damage since they’re out in the open.

Smart Sprinkler Systems

smart sprinkler systemsmart sprinkler system

Modern high-tech solutions can make it easier than ever to control the amount of water your lawn gets. Smart systems are designed to take local weather forecasts into consideration and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. They also have specialized controllers like WiFi hubs that you can control via an app on your phone.

Of course, the more you add to your system, the more it will cost. However, most smart sprinkler systems cost around $200 to $300 to add to an existing system.

Other Factors That Affect Sprinkler System Installation Cost

There are countless other factors that go into the final cost of installing a sprinkler system. These include regional price differences, local regulations, and more.

Regional Price Differences

In some parts of the country, like the South, sprinkler systems can be installed any time of year. However, if your area is prone to snow and major freezes, there may only be a narrow window for installation services. In areas that freeze in the winter, sprinkler systems cost more to install and maintain.

Soil Type

In-ground sprinkler installation is a labor-intensive job, and the soil type can affect the overall cost of your project. If you live in an area with heavy clay soil or a lot of rocks in the ground, it can be even more difficult for installers to lay the piping.

Landscaping Features

If your yard features challenging landscaping features, it will be more expensive to install a sprinkler system. Hills and slopes will also make it more difficult, as well as utility lines, retaining walls, and established trees.

Existing Irrigation Systems

Make sure that the estimates you receive for sprinkler installation include the cost of removing your existing sprinkler system if you have one.

Permits and Local Regulations

Make sure to acquire the correct permits before starting your project. Local and state regulations can add to your project cost and delay your timeline if not obtained promptly. Here are some common requirements to look out for:

  • Permits, which cost between $35 and $200 on average
  • Certain types of piping, sprinkler heads, or special valves
  • Land surveys, which cost around $500
  • Licensed plumber to connect your system to the water main

Sprinkler Installation Costs: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

If you have some experience with plumbing, installing your own sprinkler system is possible. However, you should weigh the pros and cons before you decide to skip hiring a professional.

Pros and Cons of DIY Installation

One of the most common reasons for DIY installation is saving money. Completing the job yourself also gives you a sense of satisfaction and pride that can’t be achieved if you hire a professional. Additionally, you can design a customized system that’s perfect for your yard.

On the other hand, doing it yourself can be time-consuming and it requires specialized tools and knowledge of both plumbing and electrical systems. Any mistakes can be difficult and expensive to correct, and even experienced DIYers may require assistance from plumbers and/or electricians.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Professional

Although hiring a professional for sprinkler installation costs more than DIY, the peace of mind may be worth it. Hiring a pro can leave you feeling sure that the job was done correctly.

Licensed professionals understand the codes and regs required to install sprinkler systems, and their knowledge can be invaluable. If you plan on selling your home, getting your sprinkler installed professionally can also give you a greater return on your investment.

Cost Comparison

For DIY installation, the average cost for a sprinkler system is around $1500 to $2500. Most of the cost of sprinkler installation is labor-related, so doing it yourself can save you hundreds of dollars. If your yard is on the small side, you can purchase a DIY in-ground kit for around $150.

Maintenance Costs with Installing a Sprinkler System

Before making decisions about the type of system and scope of your project, consider the annual costs associated with lawn sprinkler systems.

Annual Maintenance Expenses

Annual maintenance expenses relating to your sprinkler system can vary depending on several factors, including where you live and the type of system you have. However, expect to pay somewhere between $75 and $200 annually for maintenance and upkeep.

Common Maintenance Tasks and Associated Costs

There are a variety of maintenance tasks that you should do every year to keep your sprinkler system up to par. These include winterization when temperatures cool down, backflow testing, and resetting your system in the spring. You should also routinely check for leaks, adjust sprinkler heads as needed, and adjust timers based on sunrise/sunset hours.

Although many lawn care pros charge by the hour, some will have flat rates for annual sprinkler maintenance. Some typical average fees for these services are:

  • Winterization: $50 to $150
  • Backflow testing: $50 to $100
  • Spring turn-on: $75 to $160

Long-Term Costs of Ownership

When properly maintained, a sprinkler system can last 15 to 20 years, but there will be repair costs to consider along the way. The average cost to repair your system can be between $100 and $300, which may be offset by the savings in your water bill.

Additionally, you should replace your sprinkler heads at around the 10-year mark. Each head costs around $8 to $21 to install.

Sprinkler System Cost-saving Tips and Tricks

Between seasonal discounts, promotions, rebates, and incentives, there are several ways to save money on the cost of a sprinkler system.

Seasonal Discounts and Promotions

When shopping for a sprinkler system, look for seasonal discounts and promotions to save on installation and maintenance. You can ask about senior discounts, free estimates, winter deals, spring specials, and early-bird deals.

Water-Saving Technologies

Sprinkler systems reduce water consumption in your yard, and adding smart controllers takes it one step further. With this technology, you’ll save on your water bill and have more control over the amount of water your lawn receives.

Rebates and Incentives

Because many areas are experiencing water shortages, they may offer rebates and incentives to homeowners. You can find local water conservation rebate programs to help offset the cost of installing a sprinkler system.

The Bottom Line

Whether you plan on DIYing installation or hiring a professional to do it for you, your new sprinkler system will offer plenty of benefits. There are several variables going into the cost of installation, but you’ll surely be able to enjoy your lawn more while saving money in the process.

FAQ Section

How much does it cost to install a sprinkler system per acre?

In-ground sprinkler systems run around $6000 to $10,000 per acre, with the price increasing the more complex the system is. More affordable systems include above-ground or drip irrigation systems.

Can I save money by installing a sprinkler system myself?

You can potentially save hundreds of dollars by DIYing a sprinkler system installation. However, it’s important to understand the factors that go into the overall cost, including permit requirements and local regulations.

What is the lifespan of a sprinkler system?

The average sprinkler system can last up to 20 years with proper maintenance. Sprinkler heads should be replaced after around 10 years. Higher-quality systems may last even longer and require less maintenance.

What are the costs associated with upgrading to a smart sprinkler system?

Upgrading to a smark sprinkler system can save you water, leading to a lower water bill. It can also help you avoid overwatering and underwatering your lawn. To upgrade to one of these systems, you’ll need to get a WiFi controller hub, which can run around $200 to $300. You may also need new sprinkler heads or rotors, which cost about $10 to $15 each.

Many smart systems also let you add water leak or freeze detectors for under $100.

Do I need a permit to install a sprinkler system?

Installing a sprinkler system may require a permit, depending on your location. Contact your city or county’s planning department to learn about specific requirements in your area.

How much does it cost to repair a damaged sprinkler system?

The average cost to repair a damaged sprinkler system is $250, depending on what repairs need to be done. If your system is 15 years old or more, it may need to be replaced.

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