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When planning the installation of a sprinkler system, it's important to take several things into consideration: the area you need to cover, your budget, local legal codes, and the type of garden you have.
The cheapest and most common type of sprinkler system is the soaker hose. This consists of a simple hose with holes all along its length. You control the flow of water by turning the faucet on and off. High quality metal tubing is a more sophisticated version of the hose sprinkler system. The tubing is still laid on top of the lawn, but it usually comes with a line water pressure adjuster, automatic timer, and T-joints.
For flat ground and very absorbent soils like sand, a spray sprinkler system may be the best choice. These are available in pop-up models, which come out of the ground at preset times, and fixed models, which are permanently attached to pipes. A rotor head sprinkler system is similar, except that it rotates, which allows for a better distribution of water. It can also reach farther away, so you won't need to install as much piping.
A sprinkler system that is not buried has to be blown out with compressed air at the beginning of each winter to prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting. If you live in a cold area, it is a good idea to invest in an underground sprinkler system to prevent problems with frost and to save money in the long run.
Another thing to take into consideration when choosing a sprinkler system is price. A professionally installed underground system can cost up to 2,500 US dollars (USD). Most sprinkler systems also come with yearly maintenance costs, including re-adjustments and repairs. For those on a budget, it is possible to buy a sprinkler system as a do-it-yourself kit. The kits sell for under 1,000 USD, but they may be tricky to put together and require lots of hard work, including digging and bending.
Whatever you choose, make sure to ask lots of questions. The better prepared you are before making your purchase, the longer you will enjoy your sprinkler system without having to worry about problems.