The Ultimate Guide to Sprinkler System Installation Costs

in-ground sprinkler

Is the cost to install a sprinkler system for your lawn worth it? With a new sprinkler system, the old saying about the grass being greener on the other side may no longer apply! You’ll spend less time moving hoses, and you can relax and enjoy the benefits of a lush, healthy lawn.

Main factors that influence the cost of installation 

Several factors influence the cost of installing sprinkler systems. 

  • The size of your lawn
  • Number of zones
  • Type of system
  • Quality and brand of the system
  • Number and type of sprinkler heads,
  • Existing plumbing,
  • Labor costs, and 
  • Type of soil

Average Costs of Installing a Sprinkler System

average costs

The number of factors influencing the cost of installing a sprinkler system makes it difficult to estimate your final cost accurately, but most homeowners pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for an irrigation system.

Average Cost Ranges

The national average lawn sprinkler system cost is about $2,500. You can spend more or less depending on the size of your lawn, how complex your system is, and what type of materials you use. Inexpensive single-zone systems may cost as little as $400, while complex sprinkler systems cost about $10,000 per acre.

Sprinkler Installation Cost per Square Foot

The cost of a sprinkler system ranges from $0.20 to $1.00 per square foot. You can easily estimate the cost of a sprinkler system for your lawn by multiplying the area of your yard (the length times the width, in feet) by $0.40, an average cost per square foot in many areas.

Your final cost will vary depending on many factors, but that will give you a basic idea.

Costs for Installing Sprinkler in Various Locations

The most significant factors that affect the cost of a sprinkler system are the size of your lawn, materials, and labor. Labor costs vary widely across the United States and can affect the overall cost. Check out these average price ranges in major U.S. cities, according to Home Advisor.

LocationAverageTypical RangeMin 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

Your lawn size is the biggest factor affecting the cost of your sprinkler system. Lawn sizes range from very small (less than 1,000 square feet) to extra large (anything over a half acre).

Check out these cost estimates for sprinkler systems by lawn size, according to Inch Calculator

Size of LawnSquare FeetCost per square footMin and Max
Very small lawns1,000 sf$0.25 to $0.50$252 to 504
Small lawns2,500 sf$0.22 to $0.44$554 to $1109
Medium lawns5,000 sf (about ⅛ acre)$0.21 to $0.42$1,058 to $2,118
Medium to large lawns10,000 sf (about ¼ acre)$0.21 to $0.42$2,065 to $4,135
Large lawns20,000 sf (about ½ acre)$0.20 to $0.41$4,080 to $8,170
Extra large lawnsOver 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 plays a major role in the overall cost of your project. Choose from in-ground, drip, above-ground, and smart sprinkler systems.

In-ground sprinkler systems

in-ground sprinkler system

The average price for an in-ground sprinkler system is $2,500, typically between $2,000 to $4,000. You can have one installed for about $10,000 per acre.

In-ground systems are the most common lawn irrigation system. They comprise a network of underground pipes with programmable timers that deliver water through sprinkler heads and rotors in different zones.

Drip irrigation systems

drip irrigation

The most efficient systems in terms of water use are drip irrigation systems, which deliver water through holes in underground or above-ground pipes.

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

The most common use for drip irrigation systems is watering gardens, shrubs, plants, and trees. For this purpose, the average price of a drip irrigation system is $490, typically between $295 to $775.

Above-ground sprinkler systems

above-ground sprinkler system

Like in-ground sprinkler systems, above-ground lawn irrigation systems consist of a network of pipes, programmable timers, and sprinkler heads.

The average price of an above-ground irrigation system is between $1,800 to $2,000 per acre, making them much less expensive than in-ground systems. Moreover, they are easier to install, move, and maintain.

Nevertheless, they are less aesthetically pleasing than in-ground systems and more prone to damage.

Smart sprinkler systems

smart sprinkler system

High-tech solutions make it easier than ever to control the watering of your lawn. Smart sprinkler systems are designed to take local weather forecasts and adjust your lawn watering schedule accordingly. Furthermore, they have specialized controllers, or WiFi hubs, that an app on your phone can easily access. 

The more bells and whistles you add, the greater the cost of a smart sprinkler system, but for around $200 to $300, you can add a smart sprinkler controller to an existing system. 

Other Factors That Affect Sprinkler System Installation Cost

Other factors can affect the final cost of installing a sprinkler system in your yard, including regional price differences and local regulations.

Regional price differences

In some parts of the country, sprinkler systems can be installed any time of year, but in others, there are narrow windows that create competition for installation services. Sprinkler systems also cost more to install and maintain in areas that freeze in the winter.

Soil type

The installation of in-ground sprinkler systems is labor-intensive, and the soil type will affect the overall cost of your project. If your ground is heavy clay soil or has a lot of rocks, however, it makes it harder for installers to lay the pipe.

Landscaping features

If you have challenging landscaping features in your yard, installing a sprinkler system will be more expensive. Hills and slopes make it more difficult, and existing hardscaping features, utility lines, retaining walls, and established trees can also get in the way and complicate installation.

Existing irrigation systems

Avoid surprises on your bill by ensuring that estimates for the cost of installing a new sprinkler system include removing your existing one.

Permits and local regulations

Local city and state regulations can add to your project cost and delay your timeline. Look out for special requirements like these:

  • 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 plumbing skills, you can install your lawn sprinkler system, but you should understand the pros and cons before deciding whether to DIY or hire a professional.

Pros and cons of DIY installation

Saving money is the most common reason for DIY installation. Doing the work yourself gives you a sense of job satisfaction and pride of ownership that can’t be achieved by hiring a professional. Equally important is your ability to design a customized system that’s perfect for your yard.

Then again, DIY can be time-consuming and requires specialized tools and knowledge of plumbing and electrical systems. Mistakes can be difficult and expensive, and even experienced DIYers may need assistance from plumbers and electricians. 

Pros and cons of hiring a professional

Even though professional installation costs more, the peace of mind may be worth it. When you hire a professional, you can rest assured that the job will be done correctly.

Professional installers understand the building codes and regulations required for sprinkler systems, and their expertise can be invaluable. If you plan on selling your home, professional installations also have a greater return on your investment.

Cost comparison

The average cost of a DIY sprinkler system is about $1,500 to $2,500. Over half the cost of installing a sprinkler system is labor related, so you can save hundreds of dollars doing it yourself. If you have a small yard, you can purchase a DIY in-ground kit for about $150, making it a very affordable option. 

Maintenance Costs with Installing a Sprinkler System

There are annual costs associated with lawn sprinkler systems that should be considered before making decisions about the type of system and scope of your project.

Annual maintenance expenses

Just like installation costs, annual maintenance expenses related to your lawn sprinkler system will vary depending on the type of system you have and where you live. Most people pay between $75 and $200 annually.

Common maintenance tasks and associated costs

Winterization, backflow testing, and turning your system back on in the spring are the most common maintenance tasks for your lawn sprinkler system. Additionally, service should include checking for leaks, sprinkler head adjustments, and timer setup.

Although lawn care professionals often charge by the hour, some have flat rates for annual maintenance. These are the typical fees for these services:

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

Long-term costs of ownership

Your system will last 15 to 20 years if it’s properly maintained, but along the way, there will be repair costs to consider. The average cost of repairs is $100 to $300, which may be offset by the savings on your water bill.

You should also replace sprinkler heads after about ten years, which cost about $8 to $21 each to install.

Sprinkler System Cost-saving Tips and Tricks

You can lower the ownership costs of a sprinkler system with seasonal discounts, promotions, rebates, and incentives.

Seasonal discounts and promotions

Look for seasonal discounts and promotions to save on installation and maintenance costs for your lawn sprinkler system. Ask local lawn care professionals about senior discounts, free estimates, winter deals, spring specials, and early-bird deals to maximize your savings.

Water-saving technologies

Irrigation systems for your lawn reduce water consumption, and you can take it one step further by adding smart sprinkler system controllers. With water-saving technology, you have more control, and you’ll save on your water bill.

Rebates and incentives

And lastly, because many municipalities experience water shortages, they may offer rebates and incentives to homeowners. Find water conservation rebate programs in your state to help offset the cost of installing a sprinkler system.

The Bottom Line

Whether you install it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you, you’ll soon be living on the greener side of life with a new lawn sprinkler system. There are a lot of variables regarding the cost of installing a sprinkler system, but it’s certain that you’ll be able to enjoy your lawn more while saving time and money in the long run.

Be sure to check out OPE‘s guide to watering your lawn!

FAQ Section

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

In-ground sprinkler systems cost about $6,000 to $10,000 per acre. The more complex the system is, the more it will cost. Above-ground or drip irrigation systems are less costly choices to consider for large properties.

Can I save money by installing a sprinkler system myself?

You can save hundreds of dollars by installing a sprinkler system yourself, but it’s important to understand all the factors that will affect the cost of your system, including local regulations and permit requirements.

What is the lifespan of a sprinkler system?

When properly maintained, the average sprinkler system will last about 15 to 20 years. Sprinkler heads should be replaced after about ten years, and higher-quality systems may last longer and need fewer repairs.

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

Upgrades to smart sprinkler systems save water and help you avoid problems like overwatering and underwatering your lawn. To upgrade to a smart sprinkler system, you’ll need a WiFi controller hub, which is about $200 to $300, and new sprinkler heads or rotors, which cost about $10-$15 each.

With many smart systems, you can add water leak or freeze detectors for less than $100.

Do I need a permit to install a sprinkler system?

You may need a permit to install a sprinkler system, depending on where you live. Contact your local city or county planning department for more information.

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

The national average cost to repair damaged sprinkler systems is $250, depending on how badly your system is damaged. Most systems last around 15 to 20 years, so if your system is older, it may need to be replaced.

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