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- Sprinkler systems generally cost between $1,695 – $3,530, with $2,540 the average price.
- The three main types of lawn sprinkler systems include, in order of expense, above-ground, drip irrigation and underground/in-ground.
- Factors that can influence the cost of sprinkler systems include total lawn size, number of zones, labor, sprinkler heads and automation.
When it comes to a home’s curb appeal, a lush green lawn is tough to beat. However, to keep your grass and landscaping fresh, they need proper watering, and that is where a sprinkler system can be an invaluable asset.
According to HomeAdvisor, the national average cost of a lawn sprinkler system is $2,540; the general range is around $1,695 – $3,530 for a quarter-acre lawn (the typical suburban home size). For larger lawns, or intricate systems with lots of bells and whistles, the average cost can mount as high as $10,000 per acre. The primary impacts on the price are the dimensions of your yard and the type of sprinklers.
Before you go in for an irrigation system (as the pros call it), let’s dig deeper into how lawn sprinklers work, what you’ll pay, and why.
What are the types of sprinkler systems?
There are several types of sprinkler systems for your home, and they vary significantly in price.
- Above-ground: This is your basic, plain-vanilla system, with the sprinklers placed on the surface of the lawn or yard and connected to a faucet or spigot through a hose. It’s the most economical option. “An above-ground system costs around $1,800 to $2,000, including labor and materials,” says Charlotte Granville, a home remodeling specialist with Fixr.com (about $450 per quarter acre).
- Drip irrigation: A drip irrigation system, sometimes called “on-ground,” also lies on top of the earth. But while above-ground systems rest entirely on the surface, drip irrigation ones are just slightly buried enough to offer a more discreet look. “These systems are very efficient and are an excellent way to water large lawns,” notes Mallory Micetich, a home expert with Angi, who estimates that drip irrigation systems cost between $450 and $650 for a quarter-acre lawn, on average.
- Underground/In-ground: As the name implies, underground sprinkler systems are completely subterranean. They “provide a great way to preserve the look of your lawn while keeping the grass hydrated and healthy,” Michetich notes. While they’re the most attractive and unobtrusive system, they’re also the most expensive. She says you can expect to pay between $1,740 and $3,410 per quarter acre for an underground sprinkler system.
You can also have an automatic controller installed for in-ground and above-ground systems: in fact, “most underground systems are also automatic, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to water your lawn,” Micetich explains. Automation adds another $10 to $325 to the price, per HomeAdvisor, which reports that a fully automatic sprinkler system can set you back $2,630, on average, for a one-quarter acre yard.
What affects the costs of sprinkler systems?
The type of sprinkler system is a big part of the cost, but some other factors can affect the overall price tag.
The costs of “sprinkler systems are influenced [by the] size of the property, type of beds, complexity of grass area [and] bed areas, type of sprinkler head used and what type of fittings,” says landscape architect Kody Ketterling of KJ Ketterling Enterprises, an irrigation system installer in Twin Falls, Idaho. Sprinkler heads and fittings have less expensive and higher-end options, too, he adds.
If you’re going the automated route, Micetich says the most costly options are state-of-the art smart systems, with controllers and features you can adjust from your phone or tablet.
Total lawn size
Since sprinkler systems are often priced by the acre, the size of your yard “has a huge impact on the cost of installing a sprinkler system,” Micetich says. “Large lawns usually require more materials and labor costs than small lawns, leading to higher project costs.” The average cost runs $0.20 to $1 per square foot. However, there are typically discounts when you purchase coverage for multiple areas.
Sprinkler System Costs by Acre
|Size of the yard||Average total cost|
|5 acres||$49, 200|
Larger yards and lawns are often divided into zones, especially if they have gardens. A zone is simply a section of your sprinkler system in which the same valve controls all of the sprinkler heads. Creating different zones allows you to vary the amount and frequency of watering the plants and grass in different areas.
Your sprinkler project’s total cost is going to be based on the number of zones, and how many sprinklers you have in each zone. A single zone system can cost between $650 – $1,000, while one with seven zones can run between $4,550 – $7,000, according to Fixr.
If you choose an underground sprinkler system, you will need to dig a trench to place the sprinklers beneath the surface. According to Home Advisor, this can run $4 to $12 per linear foot, costing an average of $800 per 100 linear feet.
Labor is a necessary expense to install a new sprinkler system, but just how much it will cost you depends on the type of sprinkler system you choose. Some are more labor-intensive than others.
“On average, labor costs range between $50 and $100 per hour for this type of project,” says Micetich. “Underground systems require more labor time than above-grant systems. Expect to pay for 8 to 16 hours of labor time for an underground system or two to four hours for an above-ground system.”
Granville estimates that you’ll pay, on average, $120 to $1,600 or more total in labor. But given the skills needed for large jobs or in-ground systems, professional installation is often worth the investment.
Your municipality may require that you obtain a permit to install a new sprinkler system, especially if it’s being connected to the city or county water supply. These could run from $50 to $200.
“While above-ground systems don’t usually require permits, you may need to get a permit to install an underground sprinkler system,” says Micetich.
When installing a new sprinkler system, you also need to consider the type of sprinkler heads you are going to use. There are both above-ground and in-ground options based on your system type. The most common include (prices according to Fixr):
- Bubbler: $1 – $10
- Misting/micro: $3 – $15
- Pop-Up: $3 – $15
- Fixed: $10 – $40
- Rotary nozzle: $3 – $20
- Gear-driven rotor: $10- $40
- Impact rotor: $20 – $35
The price of sprinkler heads is typically included in the overall installation cost.
Having sprinklers on timers is nothing new. But sprinkler systems, like so many other household systems, now can be operated from your phone or tablet via app. And they go far beyond turning water on and off: They can automatically update your watering schedule or its duration to offset seasonal weather changes, for example — or even daily weather forecasts.
A smart irrigation system is a convenient feature option, but it comes with a higher price tag. You’ll have to spend $100 to $300 on the controller, for starters (the app itself). All told, “an automated in-grounds sprinkler system will likely cost around $4,360 to $6,350 per half acre. Although more expensive, these systems will usually save the homeowner on water costs thanks to their precise programming,” Granville says.
Do sprinklers enhance home value?
Sprinkler systems aren’t one of those showy home improvements that automatically add value to a property. But they do play an important indirect role.
Landscaping is a crucial part of a home’s curb appeal. “You need to ensure sufficient watering to ensure attractive landscaping, and an automatic sprinkler system makes things easy for you,” says Trevor Lively, President of Blue Jay Irrigation. “Eventually, your home becomes more attractive to potential buyers, and you can ask for a higher price.”
“From what we are told, a sprinkler will enhance the value between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on the size of property and system,” Ketterling adds.
Sprinklers can also recoup their cost over time. According to the National Association of Realtors’ “2023 Remodeling Impact Report,” the expected cost recovery to recoup expenses related to irrigation system installation is 83 percent. “Remember that the system can also reduce your water usage, saving you money in the long run,” Micetich adds.
And of course, there’s your own enjoyment in your beautiful grounds. It may require an investment today, but your new sprinkler system could play an enormous role in maintaining your lawn’s lush green look for years to come.
And of course, there’s your own enjoyment in your beautiful grounds. It may require an investment today, but your new sprinkler system could play an enormous role in maintaining its lush green look for years to come.