How does a pop up sprinkler work?
The fundamental design of a pop up sprinkler is quite simple, and the way it works is, too. There is no magic or electricity, only good old fashioned mechanics. When water flows through the inlet of a sprinkler head, the pressure of the water pushes against the rising stem. When the water pressure exceeds the strength of the spring inside the sprinkler, the stem will rise and protrude from the main body. Water will then spray out of the nozzle and spread to the surrounding area, either in a single rotating stream or arc of spray, depending on the sprinkler model and nozzle used. When the water supply is shut off, the pressure is lost, and the spring will retract the riser stem back down into the main body.
Go to Pop Up Sprinklers page to learn more about them and learn how to select the right sprinklers for your installation.
Garden Sprinkler System Basics
A garden sprinkler system consists of a network of underground pipes that is connected to a suitable water source, either a water storage tank with a high-pressure pump or a mains water supply with sufficient flow and water pressure. If connecting to a mains water supply, a suitable backflow prevention device must be installed to prevent contamination.
From the water source, we would run a mainline pipe to irrigation valves either grouped together on a manifold or dispersed throughout the garden. These irrigation valves control an irrigation system's different areas (zones). Any pipe after the irrigation valves is referred to as lateral pipelines and will connect to the pop up sprinklers in our installation. Because we bury the pipe underground, we would use strong pipes such as MDPE or HDPE pipe to act as the mainline and lateral lines.
Usually, we can install a maximum of 3-4 pop up sprinklers to a single zone (assuming we have high enough water pressure and flow available to allow this). If our garden requires more sprinkler heads than this, we will need to create multiple zones that operate at different times. That is why we usually have more than one irrigation valve in a garden sprinkler system installation. To schedule when these valves open and close, we use an irrigation controller to program when the irrigation valves turn on and off.
We can then connect the pop-up sprinklers when we have our pipes laid. We can connect to the sprinklers in a few different ways, but our favourite is to use a swing pipe. Using swing pipe ensures that we have the flexibility to fine-tune the position of our sprinklers and gives added protection from the impact of traffic, either foot, lawnmowers or even cars.
The final step in any installation is to fine-tune the sprinkler nozzles to ensure they efficiently cover the area you want irrigating and do not overspray to areas that don't need watering.