Bio Green Outdoor Services, LLC Lawn Care & Sprinkler Learning Center (703) 450-0034

Every lawn sprinkler system should adhere to irrigation system design best practices to maximize the benefits of the irrigation system and to conserve water.

The primary goals of every lawn irrigation system are to:

  • Promote a healthy and disease-resistant lawn and landscape using the least water possible
  • Protect the environment by not overwatering and avoiding water runoff

Irrigation Zone Mapping

The first step of designing an irrigation system is measuring and mapping out the property.  Once this step is complete, your irrigation system’s designer will section off the different areas into “zones.” Zones are discrete areas of your property with different watering needs. Designing an irrigation system with the appropriate number of zones is crucial to creating an efficient irrigation system. Beyond contiguous areas, irrigation zones should also be broken up into areas with similar water use requirements. A sprinkler zone for a shady side yard would likely have different irrigation needs than a front yard that gets direct sunlight for 8 hours a day, or even a planting bed with shrubs that gets direct sunlight. An appropriately zoned irrigation system is much easier to program and tune and will allow for the most efficient use of water.   

Irrigation System Capacity

Irrigation system capacity is driven by two variables: water pressure (measured in pounds per square inch, PSI) and available water volume (measured in gallons per minute, GPM). In order for a system to operate properly, PSI and GPM need to be factored into and calculated for the appropriate number of zones and heads per zone. This allows the irrigation system to cycle between zones and applies a consistent application of water for each zone. Systems with too much or too little PSI or volume will not operate efficiently.     

Sprinkler Head Selection and Spacing

Although there are many types of sprinkler heads, the two basic sprinkler heads used in residential irrigation systems are large area rotors and small area sprinklers. With a properly zoned sprinkler system, selecting sprinkler heads and spacing them is a little bit of science and a little bit of art; the goal of this being consistent and uniform coverage of water in the target zone. Sketching out proposed sprinkler head coverage for each zone before selection is the best way to properly configure sprinkler head spacing and selection.

Soil Percolation Rate

Soil percolation rate refers to the movement of water through the pores of the soil (versus soil infiltration rate, which refers to the movement of water into the soil) and is often expressed in inches per hour. If a lawn irrigation system exceeds the infiltration and percolation rates of a lawn or landscape, the excess water will run over the the soil’s surface and will ultimately be wasted. For optimal irrigation efficiency, an irrigation system needs to be designed and programmed to take the infiltration and percolation rates into account.

Irrigation Controllers

In its simplest form, the controller is responsible for turning your lawn irrigation system on and off at the appropriate or scheduled times. There are many different irrigation system controllers on the market that offer a wide range of features. Basic controllers include a clock and allow for basic on/off settings by days of week or other intervals and may offer several pre-set programs. Advanced controllers offer “smart” technology that obtains weather data and measures other external data such as temperature and humidity for increased efficiency. Smart controllers are most often EPA WaterSense®  certified and are becoming more popular because they save water and are easier to setup and manage.

There are a number of best practices you should consider when designing an irrigation system that will beautify your lawn and landscape while using water in the most efficient way possible. If you would like help in designing your system, contact Bio Green today. You can call our office located in Sterling, Virginia at (703) 450-0034 or visit our website at  

  • Was this article helpful?
  • Yes!   No

Article Tags