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Sprinkler System Cost

What is the average price of an irrigation system?

  • Sprinkler and drip systems vary in cost, but average $650-1000 per zone. Aesthetic Gardens in Mountain View, CA

Sprinkler System Price Estimates

  • $1000 per zone: A general rule of thumb in residential or commercial landscapes is to charge $1000 per zone. This includes the line and irrigation heads for that given line,” says Rick Evans of Aesthetic Gardens in Mountain View, CA.
  • $900 per zone: Jeremy Walla of Aspen Ridge Lawn and Landscape in Rapid City, SD estimates $900 per zone. “Of course, that can go up or down a little depending on the type of sprinkler heads used,” he says.

Andy Villaescusa points out that with more zones, the cost per zone goes down. “That’s because expenses like the timer, backflow preventer and water sensor only need to be purchased once.”

Drip Irrigation System Price Estimates

  • $300 per zone for a bare-bones drip system added to a sprinkler installation: Jeremy Walla of Aspen Ridge Lawn and Landscape in Rapid City, SD estimates it could be as low as $300 per zone, since you’d simply be plugging into an existing timer and setup.
  • $650-750 per zone for an average drip system with a varied planting, according to Andy Villaescusa of A-Plus Sprinkler and Landscape in Crestline, CA.

Drip irrigation systems are harder to give a ballpark on, because they vary so much depending on how many plants need to be irrigated. That said, “Drip is a little less expensive because the labor element is less,” says Rick Evans. As Walla points out, “there’s less digging involved when installing drip.”

There are a lot of variables which go into determining the exact cost for installing a sprinkler or a drip irrigation system. Andy Villaescusa of A-Plus Sprinkler and Landscape in Crestline, CA says, “No two properties are the same. Sprinkler system cost depends on soil quality, the size of the area, and even issues such as whether tree roots are in the way.” Here, professional landscapers weigh in on how much irrigation systems usually cost.

Factors which determine sprinkler costSize of the area. A large area will need more valves, sprinkler heads and pipe, all of which takes more labor to install.

Local market. Every region is different. Your landscaper will face different labor, insurance and materials prices depending on where they’re located.

Quality of materials. Low-quality sprinkler heads from a big box store will be cheaper than professional-grade sprinkler heads, as an example.

Slope. A sloping ground can make trenching with machinery difficult, and can also cause issues with flow and pressure that need to be accounted for in the system design.

Rocky or sandy soil. Rocky soil can break machinery, requiring time-consuming digging with shovels and pry bars in order to create trenches. Sandy soil, on the other hand, fills in as soon as you start to dig.

Tree roots and underground pipes. Any existing elements underground which make trenching more difficult will increase the cost of the installation.

Low water flow. Low flow may require your contractor to install a cistern, or water holding tank, which fills slowly to provide enough water all at once for your system to run.

Low water pressure. Lack of water pressure can be solved by adding a pressure pump, or by increasing the size of the main water line.

Hard water. If you use well water, your water may have enough minerals in it to gunk up sprinkler valves and other moving parts. In this case, a filtration system is a good investment in the longevity of your irrigation system.

Water sensor. Water-saving sensors which automatically adjust the irrigation system to account for precipitation can add a small amount to the initial cost. However, you’ll recoup your investment quickly in savings on your water bill.

New installation vs. existing landscape. It’s more cost-effective to install your sprinkler system at the same time as your new landscape. If your landscaper has to dig up existing garden beds and sod to install the system, that takes more time.

Because the specifics of your home and landscape will vary so much, it’s best to meet in person with a local landscape contractor to get a better idea of what variables will affect the cost of your project.

Related Reading:

Learn how to save water and have a thriving lawn

Get an overview of the sprinkler installation process

Get seasonal sprinkler care tips from the pros

Return to Sprinkler Systems

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