How the System Works
Having an underground sprinkler system gives you more control over how your lawn is watered, and when. The network of piping is buried about 12 inches underground, and retractable sprinkler heads are strategically placed in certain zones of your lawn. The sprinkler heads work on a pressure system that when the water goes through the pipe, it pushes them up above the ground. When the water pressure stops, they retract back down to ground level. Sprinkler heads in a garden are usually a raised-head type. They stay well above the ground so the water is not blocked by large foliage. How the water comes on and when is controlled by an electronic control that tells the valves when to open and close. A good investment to add to your system is a rain sensor. This tells the controller that it is raining and not to come on and water the lawn even more.
The electronic controller is attached to a set of valves buried in a box in the lawn at the beginning of the system. The main water source comes into the box and then is separated into different zones, each one controlled by a valve. The controller is set to release each valve separately, depending on the area of your lawn and it's water needs. It tells the valve when to open, how much water to use and when to shut off. There are some less expensive controllers also that are manual, meaning you must push a button when you want the system to come on and go off. Using this type, though, you need to be certain to remember to turn it off before you turn your lawn into your backyard pool.
Caring for Your Sprinkler System
These sprinkler systems need a little bit of maintenance now and then. You should clean the sprinkler heads from dirt and grass every couple of weeks. Otherwise, they could get stuck in an upright position and you can easily destroy them with the lawnmower. If you live in an area that has freezing temperatures in the winter, you should winterize your system. This is not an easy thing to do, as the pipes should be blown out of any water sitting in them. However, it is not that expensive to hire a landscaper or plumber that deals with sprinkler systems often. It can save you money in the long run. Also, make sure to keep up with your controller. It may need to be reset during daylight savings time, or if the electricity has gone out for any length of time.