DIY: Installing Sprinklers When Growing Grass on Concrete

Earlier this month I posted a bit of a teaser about the sprinklers we installed on my cement patio. It took a lot of thought on how to make a sprinkler system work in an above ground  grass planter. In fact I went through a couple of options that would have been successful as well (just in case you need some options).
  • The first option would be to manually water the grass using a hose. This is not a bad idea if you have other container plants in your yard that need to be watered. It would also work best if you have moderate temperature since you won’t need to water everyday.
  • The second option was to use a traditional above ground sprinkler, like the one below. These actually come in very handy and worked perfectly to keep everything alive when I went on vacation for 10 days (I used a timer, more on that below). You can set it up anywhere you want to best water the yard and it will cover more space than in ground sprinklers.  They’re also very fun to run through on a hot day.

Old Sprinkler for the Grass Planter

For a while I used the sprinkler in front of the planter because it hit both planters and the surrounding plants.

Growing Grass on Concrete - 1 month update

However, before we considered sprinklers an option, my plan was to run the hose through the back of the planter and set the sprinkler up on the grass. To reduce the amount of overspray, I purchased some marine epoxy at Home Depot. The plan was to fill the sprinkler holes on either end of the sprinkler to only allow the water to eject in the middle, thus only watering the grass and not the wall/concrete.

Grass Planter

The epoxy plan was thwarted when we came up with the ‘in ground’ sprinkler system idea. While I was a little apprehensive on how it would work, it was incredibly easy…and pretty cheap.

Actually it was free for me since my dad had all the scrap supplies at his house; however, I would still say for others it would be a decently cheap project. If you had none of the equipment/supplies at home, it would cost you about $100. I gave my best estimated costs at the bottom of this post.

Please forgive the fact that I don’t have a supplies picture for you. Much of the pipe construction was done by my father at his house and then brought to my house for installation. Before I show you the details, here is a diagram of what we did to help you understand.

Sprinkler Diagram

I’ve struggled with how to really step you through the installation, so I’m hoping the above diagram helps a little. If you can’t tell, the aqua diagram is the pipe/sprinkler construction. Please reference the pictures, I’m not sure I was able to capture this best with my words.

We ran the piping across the entire length of both planters. The first step for installation would be to drill holes all across the back. We started the holes on the far left since it was closest to the water source.

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

We used standard white PVC piping, I believe it was 1/2 inch. The pipe was attached to a connector that would allow the hose to thread into the pipe, thus allowing the water to feed down the pipe and to the sprinkler heads.

Half way across the first part of the planter we attached a sprinkler head to the PVC piping using a ‘T’ connector. We chose to run them behind the grass because the dirt and flowers would hide them later on.

The metal U clamp was not necessary, the dirt held everything just fine.

Grass Planter Sprinklers

The next length of pipe was connected to the first sprinkler head and threaded through the hole we drilled through the middle of the larger planter.

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

We followed the same steps in the second half of the larger planter, connecting a sprinkler head about half way across, using another ‘T’ connector.

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

Then we ran the piping through the right side of the larger planter and straight through to the smaller planter. Yes, the piping shows if you look between the planters; however, this allowed the hose pressure to water both planters without a second water source.

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

The pipe is easily hidden by a large pot.

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

The same process was followed for the last, smaller planter. We ran the piping half way across the planter and installed a sprinkler at the end, using an elbow connector. There was no need to extend the pipe across to the other side of the smaller planter.

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

Once everything is installed and dry we turned on the water to test it out.

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation


Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

I can now use the sprinklers to water just the grass and a few small container plants around the edges. I’m no longer wasting water on the cement or the wall, which will save me on my water bill, and piece of mind.

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

I still need to plant grass in the last planter, but once I do, the water will keep it alive. The dog will probably kill it shortly after.

Grass Planter Sprinkler Installation

Now, I mentioned a water timer at the top of the post. For those of us that do not use in ground watering systems, you can still use a timer. The timer connects directly to the water source and can be set to go off at any time and up to several times per day/week. The timer runs off batteries.

If you want to run two hoses off your water source, just purchase a ‘Y’ connector and hook the timer to one end and a separate hose to the other. That way you have a dedicated water line to your sprinklers and a separate hose that you can use in the yard.

Now that I’m done blabbing about my new sprinklers, let me say that I’m not a sprinkler expert in the least. Nor am I a landscaper or anything else remotely related to an expert in this stuff. This was all new to me and I honestly walked around asking my dad to hand me the blue goop (thread sealant) and the cutter thingy (pipe cutter). I feel like I need to say this because this process may not work for you. You may need to make adjustments to fit your situation and an expert may be necessary. While I’m happy to make suggestions & share ideas, I am not an expert. Safety first people!

One thing I’m always looking for when reading DIY blogs is not necessarily how to do something. I’m usually more interested in how much it cost. If it costs too much, I will likely look elsewhere for another solution. So while I don’t have the exact costs since we used mostly scraps, I’ve outlined an estimate of how much this would have cost if I needed to buy the supplies. I’ve also included costs of items you may already have in your garage, such has spade drill bits and pipe cutters.

Estimated Project Cost Breakdown:

PVC Pipe 1/2 Inch (about 20 feet) = $8

PVC Pipe Connectors – qty 8 = $.25 each ($2)

Sprinkler Heads (qty 3) = $10

PVC Hose thread Connectors = $1

PVC elbow connector (qty 1) = $1

PVC ‘T’ Connector (10 pack) = $3

Pipe Cutter = these seem to average about $15

Spade Drill Bit (for drilling large hole through the planter) = $6 (or buy a set of several sizes for about $15)

Pipe Thread Sealant = $7

Basic Hose = $15

Water Timer = $32

Total Estimated Project Cost (if you had to buy everything): $100

I’m hoping this will give those out there with concrete yards some encouragement to do something new and fun. You aren’t stuck with concrete, just try to think outside the box for a unique solution.


Linking To: Between Naps on the PorchMaking the World CuterToday’s Creative BlogNot JUST A Housewife, Ginger Snap CraftsBlue Cricket DesignWe Are THAT FamilySavvy Southern StyleVery Merry Vintage Style, The Shabby Creek CottageBeyond The Picket FenceThe ArtsyGirl ConnectionThe Shabby Nest, French Country CottageThe Not So Functional Housewife, Addicted 2 Decorating, Ohh Baby Designs, Dear CreativesFunky Junk Interiors

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