We install about 50 sprinkler systems per year covering both the residential and commercial markets. Both systems are similar, commercial systems are usually just larger and may have more expensive equipment required. I will talk about what to look for in a good quality residential system.

First of all, as always, secure 2 to 3 bids from Landscaping Contractors Board (LCB) licensed contractors with at least 3 to 5 references.

Have a written contract that includes all of the components and details of the system, written instructions on how to operate it, a detailed plot plan/as built of where the valves, wires, heads and pipe routs are.

Most importantly, get a written warranty of at least one year so that you have a growing season to operate the system and to get the bugs out on the adjustments, etc. We give all of our customers complete 5 year warrantees on all parts and labor associated with any manufacturer’s defects or installation problems.

As for sprinkler manufacturers, we use mostly Hunter Industries and Rain Bird. Both are very good companies, but I like the Hunter systems, as they are a little more user friendly and the company tries very hard to take care of their warranty issues and has very good customer support.

Some items to look for in your proposal

  • Pipe depth- 16 to 18 inches minimum on main lines and at least 12 inches or more on lateral lines.
  • Back flow device- state law requires that the contractor pay for and secure a permit to install the state-approved anti-siphon apparatus, better known as a back flow device. Main manufacturers are Febco or Watts, and they are both good products.
  • Wiring – all systems have wires that connect the solenoid valves to the controller. Be sure that the wires are taped to the bottom of the pipes so that if there is a break sometime down the road the wires will not be cut by a shovel and can be easily located for the repairs.
  • Insist that the contractor put in writing the cleanup details for the job. Your yard will be somewhat torn up, and it is the contractor’s job to put it back the way it was. Yes, sometimes it is hard not to remove a plant to install the backflow or remove some sod for the pipes. It will save you much headache, however, if you secure a detailed plan of action about how the trenches will be repaired with seed or sod. If plants are damaged will they be replaced? If so how much is allotted for this in the proposal and where will they be moved or replaced to.

While these are not all of the details of a system, they are a few things to look for in the course of selecting a landscaper. Do your homework, get as much as possible in writing and remember that the more time you spend covering the details in the job, the less will have to pay for down the road. Better yet, give us a call (503-585-9517) and we will give you a free estimate on your project.

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