Lawn Irrigation System Cost

How Much Should a Lawn Irrigation System Cost?

A lawn irrigation system is an underground watering(sprinkler) system geared to conserving water and aimed to save you money. So how much should a lawn irrigation system cost? And who needs one?

In this article we’ll explore the cost of several different types of lawn irrigation systems and help you determine if you need to irrigate your lawn, and which type of irrigation system may be best suited to you and your lawn.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S.

Who Needs a Lawn Irrigation System?

Surprisingly, many homeowners could use some sort of irrigation system. From the seasoned gardeners to those just looking for a way to better manage their lawns, an irrigation system allows for better lawn management, less responsibility, and more freedom.

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What to Consider Before Buying

Before you decide to make the investment and spend your precious time searching for what you think you need, consider what you need.

The idea of an irrigation system can be a lot, so you need a game plan.

1. Need

How high of a priority is an irrigation system to your household needs? Is it necessary to have when a regular sprinkler system can do just fine? How important is lawn care to you and how often are you taking care of it? Pouring water on the lawn because “it’s the thing to do” is not only counterproductive but a waste of time and money.

What do you need the system for? Your grass, the trees, flower beds, vegetation garden, or the shrubbery? They all require different maintenance and water needs. More sun will also require more watering needs.

Irrigation systems provide you with more time to do what you want and need as well as reduce your workload. You won’t have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night or the need to rely on neighbors to water your lawn while you’re gone. Go over it with your family because it’s an investment that you may not feel will be beneficial – although, chances are it definitely will.

2. Cost

You will probably need one, but at what cost? How much are you willing to spend to “water” your lawn? How high of a priority is an irrigation system to accost for the spending? Costs can range anywhere from $500, on the lower-end, to $5,000, on the higher-end. Budgeting might be necessary, even after installing the system.

Depending where you live costs for lawn maintenance might be ridiculously higher than other areas. Cost for lawn care in Phoenix, Arizona is going to be vastly different than in Seattle, Washington. Where there’s less available water, it will cost you more. Likewise, a cheaper irrigation system isn’t always the best solution. You might need to spend a little more to worry a little less.

3. Spacing and Land Type

The bigger the lawn, the more you’ll fork over for an irrigation system, regardless of how new and up to date it is. Equally, you’ll spend much less on less land area. The more specific the target area you’ll need to consider a system that targets the target growth area.

Where is your house located? If it’s a sloping yard, you’ll lose more water than you’ll retain, costing you more money. To calculate how much water you’ll end up using, multiply the length by the width of the yard, to get the square feet of yardage. Take the square feet of yardage and multiply it by .623, which will equal the number of gallons expected to use.

Length x width of yard = sq. ft. of yard
Sq. ft. of yard x 0.623 = number of gallons used
How Much Should a Lawn Irrigation System Cost?

Lawn Irrigation System Cost for 5 Types of Irrigation

Listed are five different types of lawn irrigation systems, their uses, benefits, and the cost of each lawn irrigation system per 1/3-acre, 1/2-acre, and acre.

I hope this will help you choose the right type of irrigation system for your lawn and have a good ballpark estimate of what you can expect to pay to irrigate your lawn.

1. Surface Systems (Traditional)

Uses: The most common irrigation system, surface systems spray water out of a spray head. Although common, they are limited in direct effectiveness since they shoot in no specific direction.

Benefits: Can cover a larger surface area and when fixed in the ground purposefully, can very useful on lawns

1/3 acre – $2,000 – 3,000
1/2 acre – $3,500 – 5,500
1 acre – $6,000 – 8,000

2. Drip Sprinkler Systems

Uses: Much like the name, a low amount of water is used in a specific area where water is needed. Also known as micro sprays, this system works by pushing water out slowly, allowing for the water to seep into the soil.

Benefits: Plants are watered directly from the root, allowing for reduced water usage and superior plant growth.

1/3 acre – $250 – 500
1/2 acre – $500 – 750
1 acre – $750 – $1,000

3. Furrow Irrigation

Uses: Simple method where water channels are created favoring a slope in the land. Gravity carries the water down towards the slope to spill into the field.

Benefits: Less water usage and less overall costs due to less pumping.

1/3 acre – $250 – 500
1/2 acre – $500 – 750
1 acre – $750 – 1,000

4. Rotor Systems

Uses: Similar to traditional sprinkler systems, rotors cover a large area of land. They also, like drip systems, release water slowly resulting in direct seepage.

Benefits: Better target areas and more control of where the water sprays (i.e. you won’t be watering the sidewalks, walkways, or your neighbor’s lawn).

1/3 acre – $250 – 700
1/2 acre – $700 – 1,000
1 acre – $1,000 – 1,500

Professional vs DIY Lawn Irrigation System Cost

When you are choosing between a professional or DIY lawn irrigation system, of course you should expect to pay more when hiring a professional.

But in my view, depending upon the type of system you’re installing, how much free time you have, and how much you like digging trenches in your lawn, it might make sense to pay a premium to have it done for you.

At the very least, having a sense of the type of system you need, and how much you should expect to pay will allow you to get a great deal when you work with a professional lawn irrigation installer.

When talking about setup, it’s best to run back two familiar thoughts to consider before investing: your need and the cost of the irrigation system.


Do you need a professional installer? Irrigation systems covering a large amount of land might need the help of someone with more expertise; likewise, you might only need a few additional hands and getting some friends to come help you might just cost you a pizza and a few beers if you’re installing a simple rotor sprinkler system.


Doing things, yourself is always the less costly method up front.

But what happens when you make a structural mistake, lose or break material, or make a wrong estimation? Those mistakes will cost you more time and money, so it’s important to think about whether you have the skills and mentality to take on a project like this.

For a small lawn, most people can handle it with no problem.

Should You Hire a Professional?

Pros – Most efficient way to have your system built and you won’t have to worry about looking for materials. Professional set-ups often come with a policy if systems fail to work or if materials are broken. Additionally, this option is very time and labor effective.

Cons – Costly. You’re not only paying for the systems but also for the labor that comes with having someone else do the work for you.

Are You Ready to Install a DIY Lawn Irrigation System?

Pros – Cost-effective and allows you the flexibility of creating your own set-up. Also, you’ll know exactly how things are set up and working below the ground, which will help you to troubleshoot problems in the future.

Cons – Risks of failures are increased and with that comes costly and time consuming repairs. Also, it can be very time consuming and will take away from other responsibilities. If you have a high-paying job the time you take away from work might cost you more than hiring a professional to install your sprinkler system.

This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shows you how to water your lawn and garden by installing in-ground sprinklers.

Final Thoughts on Lawn Irrigation Cost and Installation

Whether you choose to hire a pro or are planning to tackle lawn irrigation as a DIY project, take your time and figure out what it is you need for your lawn and what your budget is before hand.

Irrigation systems are not complicated, but they can be costly, and you need to estimate some extra time and money if you’re not an experienced weekend warrior.

When you decide to install your irrigation system, you’ll need to decide on the brand to use for your sprinkler heads, and to help with that I have an article comparing Rainbird vs Orbit – two of the most popular brands in this space.

So check it out before you go!

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Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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