2022 Sprinkler System Cost | Zone & Acre Pricing

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

Nowadays, modern automation systems have made it much more convenient to zero in on particular water usage and ideal watering times for sprinklers. While the initial sprinkler system cost – both for the system itself and the installation – is often a bit pricey, the rewards are guaranteed. These include, but are not limited to, an increased property value, long-term savings on your utility bills, and water conservation.

The average cost to install a sprinkler system is $5,500 for most homeowners. You can expect to pay the average $11,000 sprinkler system cost per acre to install a new system. Drip irrigation sprinkler systems cost $2,150 per acre to install, and in-ground sprinklers average $12,000 per acre.

Continue reading for our comprehensive guide on sprinkler system costs, so you can have a better understanding of how to budget appropriately for this home improvement project.

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New Sprinkler System Cost Factors

There are a number of factors that go into the cost of a new sprinkler system. Everything from your plumbing to the specific layout of your property can influence total cost. With that said, it’s recommended that you hire a land surveyor who will be able to tell you where your pipes are located before the project can start. The following factors are some of the considerations that your pro will make in providing you with a price estimate for your sprinkler system installation:

  • Property size. As you might expect, the larger the yard, the more sprinkler heads and piping that it needs.
  • Number of zones. The number of zones required to adequately water your lawn typically depends on the size of your yard, the slope of your yard, land obstacles, and non-organic obstructions such as sidewalks and driveways. Each additional zone will drive the price up.
  • Quality of the materials. Investing in a quality sprinkler system upfront will ensure longevity of the system.
  • Site preparation. Simply put, this is related to the complexity of the installation and the condition of your yard and soil. Less labor is required on landscaped yards with soil that is more agreeable to trenching. Whereas, hard and rocky soils, in addition to clay, will usually increase labor hours.
  • Type of landscaping. Different areas of your property may have different watering pattern needs.
  • Having many shrubs, bushes, trees, flower beds, and even non-organic obstacles can make mapping and planning out your sprinkler system more difficult. These obstructions typically require more zones and also more specialized sprinkler head risers to function properly – increasing the cost of the sprinkler system.
  • Lawn resodding. After the installation is complete, your lawn will need to be repaired and resodded. The cost to do this will depend on your particular breed of grass, but material costs range from $0.20 to $0.80 per square foot and labor costs average around $0.80 per square foot.

Sprinkler System Installation Cost Overview

With these factors in mind, it’s easier to understand why there is such a wide range of sprinkler system cost. However, the size of your yard, the quality of the materials that you choose, and labor costs makes the biggest impact on the total price. The following table displays a brief overview of sprinkler system average costs – including installation.

Average Cost$5,500
Average Range$4,000 to $7,000
Low End Cost$2,200
High End Cost$13,500

Sprinkler System Cost by Type

Generally speaking, you can classify irrigation systems into two main categories: in-ground and above-ground. As the name suggests, the latter rests on the ground and the former is hidden below the surface of your lawn. The type of sprinkler system that you choose will ultimately come down to your budget and needs.

Type of Sprinkler SystemCost Per Acre (Materials and Installation)
Above-Ground$1,500 to $2,000
Drip Irrigation$1,800 to $2,150
In-Ground$11,000 to $13,000

Above-Ground Sprinkler System Cost

Above-ground sprinkler systems tend to be much simpler and more forthright than in-ground systems. With this system, the sprinklers are placed directly onto your lawn and then connected to a spigot or faucet via a hose. Simply turning on the faucet delivers water to the sprinkler and results in irrigation. Most homeowners pay between $1,800 and $,200 for an above-ground sprinkler system on a one-acre property.

These sprinkler systems are often seen as the most economical and affordable choice. Though, they are best suited for homeowners with minimal lawn or garden areas that need watering. If you’d prefer not to install a permanent system, above-ground is the way to go. They offer the opportunity to move them around and put them away when not in use. There are a few different ways that these sprinklers can be mounted, which influences the overall price:

  • Staked Sprinkler: As their name indicates, these sprinklers offer a stable and secure mount by staking them into your lawn. Staked sprinklers cost between $5 and $45 each. They offer some elevation for those who don’t want their sprinklers resting flat on the ground.
  • Portable Base Sprinkler: These are one of the most popular above-ground sprinkler options. They feature a lightweight base and a wide design that allows you to easily move it to any area. Portable base sprinklers come in turret and oscillating models and cost $10 to $45 each.
  • Tripod Sprinkler: These sprinklers are elevated on a mount that has three legs, minimizing trip hazards in your yard. Tripod sprinklers cost between $40 and $100 each.

Drip Irrigation Sprinkler System Cost

Drip irrigation is another form of above-ground sprinkler system, and also one of the most popular forms of irrigation. The system delivers a designated amount of water directly into the soil to plants in a small area. The main benefit of drip irrigation system is that less water gets lost to evaporation.

However, since the lines are exposed to mowers and trimers, this makes pruning and trimming the area more labor-intensive. Regardless, the main draw for this system is water conservation and the lower cost. Drip irrigation systems cost an average of $1,800 to $2,150 per acre.

In-Ground Sprinkler System Cost

Everyone’s irrigation needs for their lawn or landscaping are going to be different. Large lawns and extensive landscaping typically require a substantial amount of water and would, therefore, benefit from an in-ground sprinkler system. These systems offer both durability and convenience, but their main drawback is the higher upfront cost and possibility of overwatering.

With in-ground sprinkler systems, a controller is used to program each individual zone based on the plants in each. Once installed and properly programmed, fully automated systems require very little attention on your part. The system pretty much manages itself, aside from looking out for malfunctions or any other indications of a problem. On average, in-ground sprinkler systems cost between $11,000 and $13,000 per acre.

Sprinkler System Cost by Head Type

One of the most complicated parts about planning out an irrigation system is deciding between all of the available heads. Generally speaking, there are two main types of sprinkler heads to choose from (which correspond to the two main types of systems): in-ground and above-ground. While you may pay more for the installation of in-ground sprinkler heads, you avoid the need to water manually and can automate the whole process.

In addition to the type of system, the type of sprinkler head that you select can impact the total cost of your sprinkler system. The table below outlines your options and the average costs for each – ranging from $1 to $35 per head. However, it’s important to note that the price of these heads is usually included in the overall cost of installation.

Sprinkler Head TypeAverage Cost Per Head
Bubbler$1 to $10
Misting/ Micro$3 to $15
Pop Up$7 to $20
Fixed$7 to $22
Gear-driven Rotor$8 to $25
Rotary Nozzle$9 to $30
Impact Rotor$11 to $35

Sprinkler System Installation Cost Per Acre

Obviously, the size of your yard is going to be one of the major factors that impact sprinkler system cost. In addition to this, your location, climate, variety of landscaping, and the slope of your yard can vary the cost of a sprinkler system quite a bit. With that said, the table below outlines average cost ranges in terms of acreage.

AcresAverage Total Cost
¼ acre$2,180 to $3,270
½ acre$4,360 to $6,530
¾ acre$6,530 to $9,800
1 acre$8,710 to $13,070
2 acres$19,680
2.5 acres$24,600
5 acres$49,200

Sprinkler System Installation Cost Per Square Foot

In most cases, the installation of a new sprinkler system costs between $0.20 and $1 per square foot. You can usually expect to pay more based on how advanced the sprinkler system is and if any additional features come with it, as this will add more labor and installation requires for each square foot of your property.

Sprinkler System Installation Cost Per Zone

Different types of foliage and grass have different watering needs. Splitting your yard into different irrigation zones allows you to program the system so the proper amount of water is supplied to the lawn and plants in a certain area. You can also have the system programmed to water zones at different times of the day. A zone is defined as one section of your sprinkler system where the same valves are controlling all of the sprinkler heads.

The cost of your sprinkler project will vary based on how many total zones you have, as well as how many sprinkler heads you have in each zone. You may have just one sprinkler head in a zone, or over five. The amount that you have will depend on the system you choose and the soil on your property. Examine the table below for the average costs of sprinkler systems with a distinct number of zones.

Number of ZonesAverage Cost (Materials and Installation)
1 zone$650 to $1,000
2 zones$1,300 to $2,000
3 zones$1,950 to $4,000
4 zones$2,600 to $5,000
5 zones$3,250 to $6,000
6 zones$3,900 to $6,500
7 zones$4,550 to $7,000

Quick Tip: You can calculate the number of sprinkler heads you need per zone by determining the gallons per minute and the pounds per square inch (PSI). The higher the water pressure, the stronger the sprinkler heads.

Sprinkler System Installation Labor Costs

Installing a sprinkler system is a massive undertaking, and one that should be handled by a professional. Level digging, precise measurements, and specialized tools make this project nearly impossible for DIYers. Fortunately, a professional can install your new sprinkler system in a day or two and they have all the knowledge, resources, and experience to get it done properly. Sprinkler installers usually charge per job, but the average installation labor cost is $40 to $100 an hour.

Though, the actual cost can vary considerably from state to state. When you’re planning and budgeting for your sprinkler system, make sure you factor in potential plumbing problems. Hooking up a sprinkler to your plumbing system may not be an issue, but if your current system is not adequate for the size of your yard, you may need to hire a plumber. Depending on the specific job and location, plumber services cost between $45 and $200. The

The cost to install an irrigation system varies based on location, distinct labor requirements, and the individual design of the sprinkler system that’s being installed. For instance, an above-ground sprinkler system with more than six zones and advanced features may have labor costs that are closer to a standard in-ground installation than a basic above-ground one. The contractor you choose will be able to go into detail about their labor prices.

Regardless, the following table describes the average labor costs you can expect for each type of sprinkler system:

Type of Sprinkler SystemAverage Labor Costs
Above-Ground$120 to $400
Drip Irrigation$320 to $1,600
In-Ground$640 to $1,600

Generally speaking, in-ground sprinkler systems take longer to install since the professional has to carefully plan out the installation, dig up your lawn, secure the sprinklers, and clean up afterward. This installation usually takes about two days, while an above-ground sprinkler system may only take a few hours.

Do You Need to Hire a Sprinkler System Contractor?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Related Questions

Do you need a permit to install a sprinkler system?

Many municipalities require that homeowners have a permit in order to install an irrigation system. Since every state, county, and city has different regulations, make sure you speak with your sprinkler professional about specifics.

When is the best time to have a sprinkler system installed?

Early spring or early fall are usually the best times of year to have a sprinkler system installed.

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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