When it comes to a home’s curb appeal, a lush green lawn is hard to beat. However, to keep your lawn and landscaping looking fresh, they need proper watering, and that’s where a sprinkler system can be an invaluable asset.
According to HomeAdvisor, the national average cost of a lawn sprinkler system is $2,538 (range $1,700 to $3,500) for a quarter-acre lawn (the typical size of a suburban house). For large lawns or systems with lots of bells and whistles, the average cost can be as high as $5,500, according to Fixr.com.
Before you jump into an irrigation system (as the pros call it), let’s dive deeper into how sprinkler systems work, what you’ll pay for, and why.
What are the types of sprinkler systems?
There are several types of sprinkler systems for your home, and their price varies widely.
Above ground: This is your regular basic vanilla system, with the sprinklers placed on the surface of the lawn or yard and connected to a faucet or faucet via a hose. It’s the most economical option, costing around $1,800 for a one-acre property, according to Fixr (about $450 per quarter-acre).
Drip irrigation: A drip irrigation system, sometimes referred to as “on the ground”, also sits on the ground. But while above-ground systems sit entirely on the surface, drip irrigation systems are buried just enough to provide a more discreet appearance. It will range from $450 to $625 per quarter acre, HomeAdvisor says.
Underground/Dug: As the name suggests, underground sprinkler systems are completely underground. Obviously, these are the most attractive and discreet, but also the most expensive, costing between $1,740 and $3,400.
“You can also get an automatic controller for in-ground and above-ground systems, which adds another $25 to $300 to the price,” says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, a national lawn care company. Basic timers have been around for a while, of course. The latest addition is a smart sprinkler system that can be adjusted from your phone; the price for these can go up to around $2,630 per quarter acre.
What influences the costs of sprinkler systems?
The type of your sprinkler system accounts for a large portion of the cost, but other factors can affect the overall price.
The costs of “sprinkler systems are influenced [by the] size of property, type of beds, complexity of grass area [and] bed areas, type of sprinkler head used and type of fittings,” says landscape architect Kody Ketterling of KJ Ketterling Enterprises. Sprinkler heads and fittings also have cheaper and higher-end options, he adds.
Total lawn size
Since sprinkler systems are often charged by the acre, the the size of your yard is a huge factor in the price you pay, with the average cost being $0.20 to $1 per square foot. However, there are usually discounts when you purchase coverage for multiple areas.
Sprinkler System Costs Per Acre
|A quarter acre||$2,460|
|One third of an acre||$3,280|
|half an acre||$4,920|
Larger yards and lawns are often divided into zones, especially if they have gardens. A zone is simply a section of your sprinkler system where the same valve controls all sprinkler heads. Creating different zones allows you to vary the amount and frequency of watering plants and grass in different zones.
The total cost of your sprinkler project will be based on the number of zones and the number of sprinklers you have in each zone. A single-zone system can cost between $650 and $1,000, while a seven-zone system can run between $4,550 and $7,000, according to Fixr.
If you choose an underground sprinkler system, you will need to dig a trench to place the sprinklers below the surface. According to Home Advisor, it can cost anywhere from $4 to $12 per linear foot, which costs a $800 average per 100 linear feet.
Labor is a necessary expense to install a new sprinkler system, but how much it will cost depends on the type of sprinkler system you choose. Some require more work than others.
Above ground and drip irrigation systems tend to be less expensive because they simply sit on or near the ground. An above-ground system typically costs between $120 and $400, while drip irrigation can cost between $320 and $1,600 for labor, according to Fixr figures. Meanwhile, underground/buried systems are more expensive due to the labor required to dig into the dirt and build the trenches that hold the sprinklers. Therefore, prices are usually between $640 and $1,600.
“Labor costs can drive up the price,” admits Yamaguchi. But given the skills needed for larger jobs or buried systems, professional installation is often worth the investment.
Your municipality may require you to obtain a permit to install a new sprinkler system, especially if it is hooked up to the city or county water supply. These could reach a few hundred dollars.
When installing a new sprinkler system, you also need to consider the type of sprinkler heads you will be using. According to Fixr, there are above-ground and in-ground options depending on your type of system with seven typical options for your sprinkler head:
- Bubbler: $1 – $10
- Mist/Mic: $3 – $15
- Pop Up: $7 – $20
- Fixed: $7 – $22
- Geared Rotor: $8-$25
- Rotating nozzle: $9 – $30
- Impact rotor: $11 – $35
The price of these sprinkler heads is usually included in the overall cost of the installation.
Do sprinklers increase home value?
Sprinkler systems are not one of those flashy home improvements that automatically and directly add value to a property. But they play an important indirect role.
Landscaping is a crucial part of a home’s curb appeal. “You need to ensure adequate watering to ensure attractive landscaping, and an automatic sprinkler system makes it easy for you,” says Trevor Lively, president of Blue Jay Irrigation. “Eventually, your house becomes more attractive to potential buyers and you can ask for a higher price.”
“From what we’re told, a sprinkler will increase in value between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on the size of the property and the system,” adds Ketterling.
And of course there is your own enjoyment in your beautiful grounds. It may take an investment today, but your new sprinkler system could play a huge role in maintaining its lush green appearance for years to come.