I have a (mostly) dirt and weeds backyard to which I am planning to add sprinkling and new sod next month. However, my locality requires (and I agree since the soil is poor) that I rototill in compost to prepare the soil before sod is installed. My backyard is also uneven and bumpy. Thus, would it be better to rototill/flatten the yard before or after I begin digging the trenches and laying pipe? Is there any other prep I should do before installing sprinkling?

  • 2
    @jsotola FYI I've updated the answer to correct the spelling of Rototill
    – Ack
    Mar 25, 2020 at 19:22

2 Answers 2


Definitely rotortill before you put in the pipes. Otherwise you run the risk of damaging pipes and sprinklers.


When I install a sprinkler system, I Rototill first, then trench and install the piping, etc. then backfill trenches, compact the trenches, then flatten/roll the yard in prep for hydro-seeding or sod. You'll want to be sure to compact the backfill in the trenches or the dirt will settle over time and you'll be able to see/feel the depressions where the trenches are.

  • Adding a comment to my own post. I hope you have done all the calculations/planning/layouts for your system, I've made some mistakes in the past! A few very important items: 1) make sure you know what your available supply is so you can size your zones appropriately, 2) Make sure you have "head to head" coverage. 3) Make sure your pipes are large enough to handle all the heads on the zone. If in doubt, go up a size. Larger pipes won't hurt at all (except being more expensive) but pipes that are too small will impact the performance of the sprinkler heads. Mar 25, 2020 at 18:52
  • Thank you for the additional thoughts on planning. Rainbird provides a service where you send them the info about your property (map of your yard, water meter size, gpm, etc), so I was heavily dependent upon what plans/recommendations they send. There is a lot of info on the web about the actual installation of sprinkling, but a lot less on what to do BEFORE sprinkling.
    – kwarzym
    Mar 26, 2020 at 15:34
  • @GeorgeAnderson how do you flatten/roll the yard after its been Rototilled? Is there a tool for that?
    – Chad Befus
    Sep 22, 2021 at 18:29

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