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Context: I'm looking into hiring a company to install a sprinkler system. In both the front yard and back yard, we have some shrubs and small plants bordering the edge of the lawn, with sod in the middle.

Question: In the front yard, the company plans to install heads along the outside edge for the plants and along the edge between the shrubs and grass. In the back yard, however, they're only planning to install heads along the edge between shrubs and grass. Is it common to layout heads differently between front and back yard?

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    Well most people's back yards are different than their front yards, so I'd imagine it's extremely common. Why don't you just ask the company why they've chosen that layout? Since they planned it, and they can see your yard, they're the best equipped to answer your question.
    – Jason C
    Feb 10, 2017 at 8:13
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    In our area sprinkler companies go in and out of business every year. Pick one that's been in business 10 years and ask them to explain their logic. I had one estimate done by one of the new companies and his game was "it'll keep yer lawn wet that's all that matters" and when I asked about a specific area that a competitor mentioned he said "it just grass". Anyway the moral is be sure to pick an experienced company and ask them to explain their choices.
    – Tyson
    Feb 10, 2017 at 13:57
  • Ask for two other companies to quote - this is an expensive project no matter how you do it. See if they come up with similar designs, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Do some reading up on sprinkler layouts as well, so you'll understand more about what they're planning.
    – PeteCon
    Feb 10, 2017 at 16:11

3 Answers 3

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Yes, it is.

Water needs of your yard and landscaping will depend on several factors:

  1. type of grass / plant / tree
  2. different types of plant in the same area
  3. amount of sun / shade the area gets

Based on number 3 alone, back yards tend to get differing amounts of sun / shade than the front yards due to the house itself, and so that may lead to a different layout. It could be that only the part of the yard nearest the house needs to be laid out differently, or maybe just one side of the yard.

Just as important as where the sprinkler heads are laid out, though, is how they are connected. This is done with "zones" - groups of sprinkler heads all connected to the same valve, so they all run at the same time and for the same amount of time. Some areas of your landscaping require more water than others, and so it's important for those areas to be in a different zone. This allows you to water those zones for longer, giving the areas which need more water more water while not drowning those areas that don't.

On top of all of that, the maximum number of sprinkler heads is determined by the incoming water pressure, as well as the flow rate of all the heads. You can't have too many in one zone or they won't put out the correct amount of water.

Shaded areas should probably be in a different zone than sunny areas, so the sunny areas can get watered for longer. Additionally, your plants which require lots of water should be in different zones than those which require little water. And none of the zones should have too many heads.

All that could lead to a lot of zones (they make controllers with 8, 12, or 16 zones, and some installations require multiple controllers!), which could also mean a lot of trenching and PVC installed. You and your landscaping contractor will probably need to balance the "ideal sprinkler layout" with the cost and effort involved in getting it.

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    Soil composition and slope of the lawn could also factor in.
    – DragonYen
    Mar 13, 2017 at 17:28
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Most of the homes I have looked at back yards are larger but each yard is laid out based on the type of sprinkler distance and trees, bushes. There are limits to how much coverage each type of sprinkler can handle with the available water pressure. Look at the type, most front yards smaller hidden sprinklers are used and in larger back yard bigger pop up rainbirds are "normal" in the area I live but across town yards are done much differently So I would say there is not much "normal" unless looking at lot size.

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Also something to consider with sprinkler lay out, lawn or plants that are found in the shade most the day don't require as much water as plants located in the direct sun. A good lawn/yard company will take these things into consideration when planning and installing a system.

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