Alternatives to an In-Ground Sprinkler System

An in-ground sprinkler system is an effective, time saving method for watering your lawn and garden. In-ground sprinklers do most of the work for you. You can set a timer to water at certain times of the day or link it to a "smart" sprinkler control system at an offsite weather center, which only waters your lawn when the conditions call for it. However, in-ground sprinkler systems do have their drawbacks. Before you commit to installing one, you should take a little time to investigate some alternatives. In the end, the time you spend watering your lawn yourself could save you money and headaches.

Drawbacks to In-ground Sprinklers

Even though in-ground sprinkler systems are well hidden and controlled remotely, they are not without their problems. Broken sprinkler heads, broken irrigation pipes, wiring problems and stuck valves are four common occurrences with in-ground sprinklers.

Broken Heads and Pipe

Because they can be difficult to see sometimes with long grass or other obstructions, raised sprinkler heads are susceptible to lawnmower blades, shovels or normal wear and tear from continuous use. In addition, the irrigation piping that runs between the heads can spring leaks, break from age or be damaged from the outside by a shovel or other lawn tool.

Faulty Wiring and Stuck Valves

Your in-ground sprinkler system likely uses remote control to operate, whether on a timer or otherwise, wiring problems can arise. Corroded connections, loose wiring nuts and a faulty ground wire may be to blame. Another problem is stuck valves. Since the valves open and close in their cycle, if they stick, whole sections of your lawn may go without water.

Programming and High-tech Connections

Due to the fact that the sprinkler system is remotely controlled, it has to be properly programmed to water. An added complication is the use of an offsite weather station. “Smart” sprinkler controllers can access these up-to-the-minute sources of weather information via a radio or Internet connection, but that puts them at risk of failure should your connection go down.

Watering Alternatives

There are alternatives to watering your lawn and garden. Rather than purchase and install an in-ground sprinkler system, you can opt for one of several different watering methods.

Water by Hand

Do it the old fashioned way. Taking time each day to water where it is needed may cost you some extra time, but it is relaxing and lets you enjoy your landscape up close.

Manual Sprinkler

A lawn sprinkler is an effective and inexpensive way to water your lawn and garden. They require placement and occasional movement, but they do the trick for watering. Plus, there are many different types to suit all sprinkler needs.

Drip Irrigation

A drip irrigation system is an above-ground system of tubing that is a great way to water your garden. Rather than a constant stream of water, a drip system does just that–it drips out water over a long period of time. You may still have to turn the valve on and off, but other than that, it is a hands-free system.

Definitely consider the alternatives to an in-ground sprinkler system before you install one. If you want watering your lawn and garden to be entirely remote, an in-ground system might be right for you, but look into your choices before you decide.