Adding Sprinkler Heads and Zones to Your Existing System

Expanding an irrigation system by adding more sprinkler heads or zones can be an effective way better to serve the water needs of your garden or lawn. Whether you have new plants, landscaping features, or areas not getting adequate coverage, updating your system is a worthy investment. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

1. Planning and Assessment

  • Evaluate Current System: Check your current system’s capacity. Your primary water source, pipes, and control valves should be able to handle the added zones or sprinkler heads.
  • Identify Needs: Identify the areas where you want to add sprinkler heads or zones. Check for dry patches or new garden beds.
  • Sketch a Layout: Draw a map of your current system, highlighting where you plan to add the new heads or zones.

2. Choosing the Right Sprinkler Heads

Different plants and areas might require different types of sprinkler heads:

  • Pop-up Sprinklers: Great for lawns as they retract when not in use.
  • Drip Emitters: Best for gardens or flowerbeds for a slow release of water.
  • Rotary Sprinklers: Ideal for larger areas as they rotate and cover more ground.

3. Installation of New Sprinkler Heads

  • Digging: Carefully dig around where you wish to add the new sprinkler head. If you tap into an existing line, expose the pipe without damaging it.
  • Cutting: Use a pipe cutter or a sharp knife to make a clean cut in the line where you want to install the new head.
  • Installing a T-fitting: To add the new sprinkler head, you must install a T-fitting. This fitting will allow you to add a perpendicular pipe to the main line.
  • Add the Sprinkler: Attach the sprinkler head to the new offshoot using risers or flexible swing pipes. Ensure it’s at the correct height, typically flush with the ground for lawns.

4. Adding a New Zone

  • Evaluate the Capacity: Confirm that your water source and irrigation controller can handle another zone.
  • Dig Trenches: You might need to dig new trenches for laying out the pipes for a new zone. Depending on local code and potential frost lines, these should be about 6-12 inches deep.
  • Install New Valves: Every zone requires a valve. Connect this valve to your main water line and ensure it’s wired to your irrigation controller.
  • Lay the Pipe: Connect your new zone’s piping to the valve and lay out the pipe in the pre-dug trenches.
  • Add Sprinkler Heads: Using the method described above, add sprinkler heads to this zone.

5. Wiring and Control

  • Controller: Connect the wires from your new valve(s) to your irrigation controller. Ensure it’s correctly programmed to handle the new zone.
  • Testing: Before covering everything up, test the new heads or zones to ensure they work correctly.

6. Final Steps

  • Cover Up: Refill the trenches and areas around the new sprinkler heads with soil.
  • Adjust and Optimize: Make any necessary adjustments to sprinkler angles or spray patterns.
  • Schedule: Set your irrigation controller to adequately water the new zones based on the needs of the plants or lawn areas covered.


Expanding your irrigation system can seem daunting, but with careful planning and the right tools, you can efficiently add sprinkler heads or entire zones to your setup. Consider your plant’s water needs and consult local guidelines or professionals if unsure about any step.