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Shorelunch

What questions to ask for irrigation system quote

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I'm in northern MN and will be getting quotes for an underground irrigation system. If it matters, we have a well, have fairly sandy soil and a gently sloped lawn.

What questions should I be asking or what should I be looking for?

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Make sure they know how to work with a well. You will have to pay more for more zones with a well but having it set up right is key. Do not just shop for price, the cheapest guy will have the less amount of zones but not getting the coverage you need at the right pressure.

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Ask how the zones will be layed out. Then consider what areas get heavy sun and which don't. Make sure your zones are separated appropriately.

I had a sprinkler system installed several years ago and love it but wish the zones had been layed out differently. Front of my house faces due west so the front yard gets very heavy sun in the summer and requires lots of water. The back yard gets early morning sun and grows like crazy because it doesn't get stressed like the front. BUT....part of the back yard also gets the heavy afternoon sun. This area is a slight hill, faces west and is furthest away from the house so it is not shaded by the house. This area should have been put on it's own zone to prevent it from burning out. Instead it is on a zone with another area of the yard that receives shade from the house. So I either have grass on the hill that burns out or I need to mow parts of the back yard twice or more a week due to all the watering.

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I've installed irrigation for close to 20 years. Wells can be a tricky wicket if someone doesn't know what they are doing.

The system needs to be set up so that the pump will continue to run throughout the whole irrigation program and not be cycling constantly, you will burn your pump out quick. There needs to be a lot of front end work to determine the amount of water that will keep the pump in the "running range" of your pressure gauge. You can adjust the kick in and kick outs a bit but I wouldn't go over 65 on the kick out.

Even after all calculations have been made there still may need to be some tweaking on the system to get your desired running pressure. Sometimes 1/2 gallon per minute +/- will make all the difference in the world.

Make sure you are receiving a rain sensor on the system, it is a MN law that all irrigation systems installed after July of 2003 must have one.

Sandy soil - ask about the price difference between plastic and stainless steel heads. If your yard is VERY sandy stainless steel may save you money in the long run. What happens is sand will get inside the seal of the head and start to score the head as it goes up and down, eventually causing the head to stick up. This won't happen with stainless.

Make sure they have their low voltage license. This is a fairly new law that most people don't know about.

You should get head to head coverage, anyone worth a salt will know that, but I've seen plenty of "What were they thinking" jobs.

As far as parts go, ask about warranty. Do your research on the brands they are selling. Everyone has their own favorites. I would stay away from Toro. Any of the other brands will perform OK and be fairly similar.

Feel free to ask any questions when you do get some bids, I'd be happy to help.

Fishingguy40 - Any way to change the nozzle sizes on those problem areas your having so you can be putting more water on the hill and less on the parts that get too much water? Just a cheap fix idea. It shouldn't really affect the performance because you would be taking from the same zone and redistributing the water....just a thought.

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Best question to ask- Do I really need this? 2nd best- Wouldn't it be far cheaper to switch to no-mow fescue eliminating the need for irrigation altogether?

Answer to #2- YES. But your irrigation guys definitely wont answer that one properly.

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Best question to ask- Do I really need this? 2nd best- Wouldn't it be far cheaper to switch to no-mow fescue eliminating the need for irrigation altogether?

Answer to #2- YES. But your irrigation guys definitely wont answer that one properly.

2 hours on a riding mower every week is 2 hours I don't have anyone bothering me! smile

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