Know Your Options for Inground Irrigation Systems

When thinking about installing an inground irrigation system, it's helpful to understand what the options are and the differences between them. Not all inground irrigation systems are created equal because every lawn and garden is a little different. Don't know the best system for your property? We've put together a short list of irrigation options to help you understand how they work or what components are available.

Water Source

This may sound very basic, but before you can do anything with a sprinkler system, you need a water source. Water sources can be very different depending on the purpose and extent of the sprinkler system. Most often sprinkler systems use municipal water for irrigation, however in some cases there may be an opportunity to use reclaimed water for sprinkler systems.

Systems that use either reclaimed water or well water will have some kind of reservoir to collect the water and a pump to move the water from the reservoir into your sprinkler system. There are many different types of reservoirs including holding tanks, cisterns, or a pump may even be placed directly into the well and connected to the sprinkler system.

Regardless of what type of water source you may have, there should be a separate shut off valve for your sprinkler system that will allow you to turn off the water supply to the system for maintenance and repair, or for off-season winterization.


Every system will have a central controller typically located on the interior or exterior of your home. At times the controller may be located near the main system pump if the system is equipped with a pump. Controllers come in many different types - from the most basic single zone, manual controller, to a multi zone, automatic, programmable controller with timers and sensor readers. Much of this depends on how large of a lawn the sprinkler system is servicing and how many sprinkler heads are being controlled.

Sprinkler Heads

Sprinkler heads come in two main different types - rotary and stationary. A rotary head "rotates" to allow even distribution of the water through the sprinkler head over a specified area. They will typically distribute a heavy stream of water, but will oscillate back and forth to evenly distribute the water. A stationary head does not rotate, but distributes the water in all directions in more of a mist.

Drip Irrigation

Systems that utilize drip irrigation will not usually have sprinkler heads. These systems use emitters that are placed in the soil and deliver water directly to the roots. For some gardens and specialty plantings drip irrigation is a much more economical and efficient way of providing the required water.


There are a few different types of sensors, but the most common ones are weather and moisture sensors. These sensors allow for more automation of the system and typically will utilize a more advanced controller to read and interpret the results from these sensors.

Control Valves

Beyond the main valve for the system, many systems will be broken into zones and will have a separate control valve for each zone within the system. Control valves are typically scattered throughout the system and may be near to the zone or section that they are controlling.

These are the basics of most residential sprinkler systems. Contact us at Nutri-Lawn Irrigation Burlington to get started with your new sprinkler system today!