Sprinkler systems provide convenience and efficiency for homeowners who want to simplify their lawn care, but at what cost? Homeowners pay an average of about $0.60 per square foot for an installed underground sprinkler system, and the total cost comes out to around $3,150 on average.
If you think your job is a little smaller or larger than average, plan to budget anywhere from $2,400 to $4,200. Sprinklers for the smallest yards may cost as little as $825, while larger properties may require systems that cost up to $8,300. Find out if the convenience is worth the cost in this guide.
In this article:
- Average Costs
- Cost Estimator by Size
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Related Services
- DIY Cost
- Cost by Location
Average Sprinkler System Costs in 2023
|National average cost||$3,150|
|Typical price range||$2,400 – $4,200|
|Extreme low end||$825|
|Extreme high end||$8,300|
The size of your lawn and the quality of the sprinkler components will be your major pricing determinants.
Sprinkler System Cost Estimator By Lawn Size
The size of your yard (or the area you want watered) is a major pricing factor. Most sprinkler systems cost between $0.20 and $1 per square foot. The average size of a lawn in the US is about a quarter of an acre, or 10,890 square feet.
Based on that typical cost range, here’s about how much you might spend on a new sprinkler system based on your lawn size.
|Yard Size||Typical Cost|
|⅛-acre||$1,000 – $5,000|
|½-acre||$4,000 – $20,000|
As you can see, if your yard is on the smaller side, that’s a huge cost-saving advantage. But, on the other hand, if you have a larger area to maintain, plan to pay quite a bit more to have an in-ground sprinkler system installed.
Other Factors That Affect Cost
Sprinkler system installation isn’t always as easy as hiring a company to do the job and arranging a date. Here are a few other factors that may affect your bottom line:
Do you need to water several different areas in your lawn? Additional sprinkler zones average an extra $500 to $825 per zone.
Who needs additional sprinkler zones? You’ll want to consider additional zones if you have flower beds, bush beds, or garden areas that require different amounts of water and watering schedules.
Sprinkler System Type
Sprinkler system costs are also affected by the type of sprinkler system. Here are some common types of sprinklers:
- Stationary Sprinklers are an affordable option for small areas. Water jets out holes in the head of each sprinkler. How far the water sprays depends on the positioning of the holes and the water pressure.
- In-ground Sprinklers have pipes and tubes buried underground in trenches. They are great for large yards but expensive to install. Expect to pay about $1,830 – $3,770 for an in-ground sprinkler system.
- Above-ground Sprinklers have tubes and piping above the surface and are much more affordable than in-ground systems.
- Misting Sprinklers are moderately priced and great for delicate parts of the yard, such as flower beds.
- Rotary Sprinklers spin in a circle, with a slow water flow coming out its three arms. They work great for lawns, bushes, trees, and flower beds because you can adjust the water flow.
You may want added features or modifications, such as:
- Drip Irrigation is engineered to go straight to the base of the plant, so its roots get a larger amount of water. They are typically placed in gardens.
- Automatic systems are super convenient, especially systems with smart controllers.
- Rainwater collection systems are a great way to deal with watering restrictions, but check out the rainwater harvesting restrictions and incentives in your state.
If you decide on an in-ground system, the sprinkler installation company will have to dig trenches for the pipes and tubes. Soil conditions influence the cost of digging trenches. The easier it is to dig the trenches, the lower the price tag. Expect labor to cost more if your yard has rocky or dense soil.
Maintenance is not an installation cost, but it is something to consider before you decide to take the plunge and install a sprinkler system. Homeowners typically have their installation company come to winterize and activate their sprinkler system in the fall and early spring. It typically costs about $70 for the fall visit and about $80 for the spring activation visit.
Many companies offer an annual maintenance contract, which may result in savings on maintenance fees and even include a mid-summer check-up to ensure everything is running well during peak use.
Many companies that install irrigation systems also do other types of landscaping work. You could save on landscaping or outdoor home maintenance services by bundling them with the same company that installs your sprinklers.
Driveway Pressure Washing
Companies charge per hour, per job, or per square foot to pressure wash your driveway. The average cost is $67 to $126 per hour or about $0.32 to $0.41 per square foot. The cost to buy a pressure washer is about $245 on average.
If you are going to have a sprinkler system to keep your ornamentals regularly watered, why not add a few new landscape beds with plants and mulch while you’re at it? The average landscaping cost ranges from $4 to $14 per square foot.
If your bushes are scraggly or overgrown, you may have your landscapers trim them while they’re onsite. When the cost of bush trimming is priced per bush, you can expect to pay $6 to $15 per bush (depending on the size). If your landscaper charges per hour, $50 to $75 is the average range.
Gutter cleaning typically costs $120 to $200, and it should be done at least twice a year to prevent clogged gutters, which can flood your landscape or rot your home’s interior structure.
While it may seem like a relatively easy chore, there are dangers to cleaning your own gutters. We recommend letting a professional landscaper do the job, but if you don’t want to hire someone, at least research how to clean gutters before doing it yourself.
DIY Cost to Install Sprinklers
Installing an underground sprinkler system from scratch is quite an endeavor. If you’re a novice, most experts recommend leaving this job to the professionals. But if you have enough DIY project experience, you can certainly attempt to plan and install your sprinkler system yourself.
According to one expert, the DIY cost is around $1,500. Assuming that most homeowners will leave underground sprinkler installation to the professionals, here we’ll discuss how to install a simple above ground irrigation system, which can be used in flower beds, raised gardens, and other planting areas.
DIY Sprinkler Kits
The easiest way to go is to buy a kit. These range from about $15 to $50 for a small patio or more than $200 for multi-zone kits with above ground sprinkler heads to water the whole lawn. All components are included in the kit. Common components include:
- ½ inch drip tubing
- ¼ inch PVC tubing
- Hose connector
- Faucet connector
- PSI regulator
- Backflow valve
- Tubing tees
- Teflon tape
- Micro sprinkler heads
How to Install a DIY Sprinkler System in 6 Steps
Below is a step-by-step guide to installing a simple above-ground irrigation system with a kit. You can buy kits with above-ground sprinkler heads or even simpler drip hose kits with micro sprinklers.
Step 1: Draw a map of your garden (or take a photo). Draw where the lines, stakes, and micro sprayers will go (or use a photo editing tool).
Step 2: Lay out your drip hose and install your stakes and above-ground sprinkler heads if you have them.
Step 3: Connect the timer (if using one) to the water supply.
Step 4: If you are using a backflow preventer, PSI regulator, or hose adaptor, connect these to the timer.
Step 5: Connect the drip hose.
Step 6: Turn on the timer.
DIY Cost vs. Professional Service Cost
The national average for an underground sprinkler system is about $3,150, while a thrifty DIYer can expect to pay around $1,500 to install an underground system. A simple drip or above-ground irrigation system kit costs from $15 to more than $200 depending on the size of the area you are watering.
Cost of a Sprinkler System By Location
The cost of a sprinkler system can vary according to these local factors:
- Permits: If you are tapping into a municipal water source, you will most likely need a permit. Your installation crew should take care of this for you, but don’t be surprised when you see this item on your bill. Permit costs vary by location.
- HOA Restrictions: Your HOA may have rules about installing sprinklers in your yard. In addition, some HOAs enforce watering restrictions, and some require that your plans and permits are approved before you start work on the project. Remember to check with them first, or you may be subject to an unwelcome fine.
- Water bills: You may notice an increase in your water bill. Water prices vary by location.
- Labor costs: The higher the cost of living, the higher the labor costs. If you live in an expensive area, expect to pay more for installation.
Plan to winterize your sprinkler system when the grass goes dormant or when temperatures start to dip between 35 to 40 degrees. Plan to activate your system in the spring when temps are no longer in danger of dropping below freezing.
Absolutely. There are several smartphone and smart home-compatible sprinkler controller systems. Do a little research to find which one you want before hiring your pro.
Here are a few things to ask potential installers:
• How long have you been in business? [Aim for a company with at least five years of experience.]
• Do you have licensing and insurance? [Always a good question to gauge professionalism and keep yourself free from liability.]
• Do you require money upfront? [The answer should always be no.]
• How long will it take to install the system, and do you seed or sod over the trenching? [Most installations take one to two days, and most companies include re-seeding or laying sod strips in their total cost.]
• Have you worked with HOAs before? [This only applies if you live in an HOA community.]
• Which systems or brands do you use? How long is their lifespan? Are they commercial or residential grade, and do they come with a manufacturer’s warranty?
• Will you take care of any necessary permits? What costs or fees should I expect besides parts and labor?
There are many advantages to having a well-oiled sprinkler system installed, including convenience, water savings, cost savings, and a beautiful lawn. Now that you know the price for these systems, consider which options work best for you and your budget.
Michelle Selzer contributed to this article.
Photo Credit: Ivan Radic / Flickr / CC BY 2.0