What is your question?

Q. Will an automatic sprinkler system use more water than I am currently using?

A. No. -- In fact, an automatic sprinkler system may actually save you water. A well designed, efficient irrigation system applies exactly the amount of water needed by your landscape. You will never again have to worry about wasting water if you forget to turn off the hose. Plus, with a Rain Bird rain shut off sensor your system will know when it is raining and simply turn itself off when water is not needed.

Q. Does having a sprinkler system really save me time?

A. Yes. -- You won't have to spend another minute of your valuable leisure time watering the lawn. Your new system will do all the watering for you - even when you are away from home!

Q. Will an automatic sprinkler system water as well as I do when I water by hand?

A. An automatic sprinkler system will do a more efficient job because it will be designed based on your landscapes diverse watering needs, using specific products designed to water grass, trees, shrubs or garden plants.

Q. We generally get 40 or more inches of rainfall a year. Do we really need a sprinkler system?

A. If it rained at your house every three days -- the same exact amount each time -- you probably would not need a sprinkler system. But nature doesn't work that way, and the only way to ensure healthy, lush yard is to make certain that your lawn and plants receive a regularly timed and evenly measured amount of water. In the dry season when there is little or no rain, your plants can suffer stress and damage after just a few days without water.

Q. What are the components of an automatic sprinklers system?

A. A typical system is comprised of a controller (which functions as the brains of the system), valves (which open and close to release and stop the flow of water to underground pipes) and sprinklers (which distribute water to specific areas). The sprinkler system can be customized further with rain shut off devices, soil moisture sensors and drip irrigation zones.

It is best if all of a system’s components are manufactured by the same company in order to ensure that they will work well together. Rain Bird designs and manufactures the most complete line of components that make up an efficient irrigation system. Northwest Iowa Sprinkler can help you choose and install the right Rain Bird product for your landscape’s diverse watering needs.

Q. Can I install an automatic sprinkler system on my own?

A. You can install an automatic sprinkler system on your own. As with any home improvement project, you should consider all the aspects of the project before you begin.

  • Understand the time and tools necessary to complete the job. Consult local hardware and plumbing stores, or nurseries for more information on the tools necessary to complete the installation. Depending on the size of your property, installing a system could take more than just a few days to complete.                                                                                                    
  • Always consult local plumbing and electrical codes. Most municipalities require a backflow preventer to prevent the flow of irrigation water into the main drinking water supply. It is better to know the code requirements before you begin the installation to avoid costly mistakes.

If you already have an existing lawn and landscape you might need to move plants, trees or shrubs in order to install the system. Make sure you have prepped the area before you begin the installation.

Q. Can I save money by installing my own system?

A. It depends. Remember, product cost is only one part of an efficient irrigation system. Many people choose to hire an experienced professional irrigation contractor who will bring years of experience designing and installing the most cost-effective and efficient irrigation systems. Contractors have also invested heavily in specialized installation equipment to help speed up the job and many have gone through detailed training courses and certifications.

Q. I have decided to hire a contractor to install the system, how do I choose the right one?

A. If you decide to hire a professional irrigation contractor, here are some tips that will help you select the right contractor for the job.

  • Before a contractor can present you with a bid, they must do their homework. This includes coming to your property, meeting with you face-to-face, surveying and sketching out the property, locating the water source, taking a read of the water pressure and finally, understanding your needs and what you want to accomplish.

  • Experience does count – make sure you are comfortable with the experience level of the contractor. If you are not sure, the best reference is a recent customer.

  • It's not all about price – often times, we use price as the only deciding factor. Contractors who have a significantly lower price than their competition have to cut corners in order reduce their costs. This could mean leaving out a backflow preventer, not using the proper installation techniques or even, not completing the work. Make sure you have selected a contractor based on their service, design plan and ability to install the system properly.

  • If you need help finding a contractor in your area, Rain Bird’s Contractor Referral Service can assist you in finding a prequalified contractor in your area.

Q. How much will a good sprinkler system cost?

A. The price of a system depends upon many factors such as property size, type of landscaping, number of zones, products used and special designs.

Whether you work with a qualified professional irrigation contractor or decide to install your own system, you can rest assured knowing that Rain Bird products will deliver maximum results. Rain Bird, as well as its nationwide distributor network, stands behind all of its products and is serious about its commitment to quality construction.

We get asked a lot Is it Expensive?

 If you hire a sprinkler company that offers you a $2500 system and the company does not draw up a custom design, does not include any water saving features, does not have a service department and you end up with a system that does not perform as you expect, THAT'S EXPENSIVE!

 Prices for an underground lawn sprinkler system can differ, widely, depending on the expertise of the contractor and the quality of the products installed as well as the size and shape of your lawn. For an average-sized lot located in the middle of the block, the price will range from $3,000 to $4,000.

Q. Will I have difficulty operating my sprinkler system?

A. Rain Bird offers a wide selection of the most advanced sprinkler timers and controllers that are powerful enough to meet your customized watering needs, while being simple to program and adjust. The newest Smart controllers from Rain Bird even adjust themselves automatically based on changing weather, temperature and rainfall, so all you need to do is sit back and relax.



Like most people, you probably have many questions that you would like to ask before finalizing your decision to purchase an automatic sprinkler system. We hope this information has helped to answer some of your questions, but if you have more, don't hesitate to call us. Your professional irrigation contractor Northwest Iowa Sprinkler.

The best way to help conserve water and to still water your lawn, evenly and effectively is to INSTALL AN IRRIGATION SYSTEM. 

What is a RainBird Select Contractor

Rain Bird Select Contractors are part of a network of independently owned and operated irrigation contractors that have been hand chosen by Rain Bird and are considered the best in business. Each Rain Bird Select Contractor has met the Select Contractor requirements outlined below and has committed to follow a code of professional ethics.

Select Contractor Requirements

In keeping with the highest standards of professionalism, Rain Bird Select Contractors:

  • Use Rain Bird water efficient products, the best quality products on the market today
  • Maintain a professional irrigation certification
  • Have been in operation for a minimum of two years (We have been in the sprinkler business for 25 years)
  • Can take advantage of the Rain Bird Factory Trained program to train their irrigation crews

Professional Code of Ethics

  • Treat each customer with respect.
  • Conduct all business dealings in a legal and ethical manner.
  • Continuously meet state and local licensing and insurance requirements.
  • Respond to job leads within 24-48 hours.
  • Be on time for all sales calls and site inspections.
  • Provide each customer with a thorough system proposal, including an explanation of the work to be done and the time required to complete it.
  • Design premium quality systems and install professional-grade products in accordance with industry standards and applicable codes.
  • Provide customers with a thorough “walk-through” of the completed system, including component locations and operation.
  • Exceed customer expectations by leaving each job site in the best condition possible.
  • Ensure that crew members and company vehicles present a consistent, professional image.
  • Take advantage of opportunities for professional and educational development.

Invest Wisely

By hiring a Rain Bird Select Contractor, you can be assured that your new irrigation system will be properly designed and installed by top professionals.  Rain Bird Select Contractors must follow rigorous professional standards and meet strict program requirements.  You can be certain that Select Contractors are fully qualified to design and install your automatic sprinkler system. In addition, you will have full confidence that the products used are appropriate for each zone of your landscape, are capable of delivering the precise amount of water needed, and are durable enough to last.

Enjoy Peace of Mind

For more than seven decades, Rain Bird has been providing the industry’s most water-efficient, durable and reliable irrigation components, helping homeowners like you enjoy a hassle-free, beautiful lawn and landscape. Ask your friends and neighbors, more homeowners choose Rain Bird automatic sprinkler systems than any other brand. With the help of a Rain Bird Select Contractor, you can rest assured your system will be properly designed and professionally installed so you don’t have to worry about it, whether you’re at home or away.

What is the Irrigation Association


The IA (Irrigation Association) is the world’s premier organization representing professional irrigation contractors. The mission of the IA is to improve water resource knowledge and efficient irrigation practices. The IA certification program provides an avenue for qualified irrigation professionals to demonstrate their experience and technical competence. Certified individuals have made a commitment to professionalism in the industry, subscribing to a Code of Ethics. We are also proud members of the EPA Water Sense Program showing our commitment to water conservation through proper design and educating our customers on correct water usage.

Glossary of Irrigation Terminology about Automatic Sprinkler Systems


A valve configured so its outlet is oriented 90 degrees away from its inlet. In irrigation, these valves are generally installed with the inlet at the bottom of the valve.


A type of backflow preventer which seals off the atmospheric vent area when the system is pressurized. Should be installed downstream of a control valve in a location which is at least twelve inches higher than the highest point in the lateral which it serves. When system pressure drops to zero, the float and seal assembly drops, opening the vent to atmosphere and breaking any siphon effect. Consult local building codes or your Rain Bird distributor for laws applicable in your area. Synonymous with Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker.


A measurement of the volume of water applied to landscape in a given time. (In the United States, usually expressed in inches per week. Its metric equivalent is centimeters per week.)


The area a part-circle sprinkler irrigates, expressed in degrees of a circle. For example, a 90 degree arc provides quarter-circle coverage, while an 180 degree arc provides half-circle coverage.


A detailed review of an irrigation system, including tests to determine overall system efficiency, identify problems areas that need correction, and determine an ideal watering schedule.


A valve which is activated by an automatic controller using electric or hydraulic means. Synonymous with Remote Control Valve.


The unwanted reverse flow of liquids in a piping system.


A mechanical device which prevents backflow. In irrigation, it is used to protect the potable water supply from potentially contaminated irrigation water. There are several types of backflow preventers. The choice of backflow preventer used depends on the degree of hazard and the particular piping arrangement involved. Virtually all regulatory agencies in the United States require backflow prevention devices to protect the domestic water supply from contamination by the backflow of irrigation water. In areas where it is not required, it is highly recommended. Consult local building codes for laws applicable in your area.


A controller feature that allows you to suspend watering on a specific date.


A valve which allows water to flow in one direction only. Check valves are used to prevent low head drainage.


A numerical expression which serves as an index for the uniformity of water applied to a given area within a specific geometric arrangement of sprinklers (e.g., square or triangular).


This is the brain of the sprinkler system. The controller automatically opens and closes valves according to a preset schedule. Rain Bird controllers have easy-to-set programs to help you efficiently manage seasonal adjustments. Rain Bird also has sensors that signal the controller to shut off the system when it rains. An automatic controller is usually more water-efficient that operating sprinklers manually. 


The area of landscape watered by a sprinkler or grouping of sprinklers.


Rain Bird 's exclusive feature which allows you  to break the total irrigation run time into shorter cycles, segmented by breaks or soaks during which the landscape has time to absorb the water. Optimizes the watering of poor drainage sites, slopes, and heavy soil areas.  Helps to prevent run-off.


Rubberized seal which keeps water from flowing through the valve.


A calculated value that shows how evenly water is distributed in a sprinkler system to avoid excessively wet or dry areas in the landscape. It depends on the spacing of sprinklers, type of sprinkler used, wind and water pressure among other factors.  High distribution uniformity is obtained when an equal amount of water is placed on all areas of the landscape.


Potable or drinking water. It can be used as a source of irrigation water, but once water enters an irrigation system it is no longer considered domestic or potable.


A valve used to empty water from a lateral or main line, usually for winterization purposes.


A low volume watering method that delivers water slowly and directly to the plant roots for maximum efficiency.


The pressure of the irrigation system during operation. Synonymous with Working Pressure.


A small watering device which delivers water at very low rate (measured in gallons per hour) and pressure at the outlet port.


The amount of water lost due to evaporation from the soil and transpiration from the plants. ET is used by Smart Controllers to help determine the amount of watering needed by a landscape.


A feature which allows an automatic valve to be opened manually (without controller) by releasing water from above the diaphragm to the outside of the valve. Useful during installation, system start-up and maintenance operations.


The movement of water.


A valve which modulates in order to maintain a pre-determined flow rate without drastically altering the pressure.


A device which actively measures water flow through a piping system and reports its data to the computerized central control system.


Female nominal pipe thread.


The amount of pressure lost as water flows through a system. Synonymous with Pressure Loss.


Acronym for gallons per minute.


The practice of placing sprinklers so that water from one sprinkler overlaps all the way to the next sprinkler head.  This helps to increase overall system efficiency and prevents dry spots in the landscape.


A sprinkler which rotates using a weighted or spring-loaded arm which is propelled by the water stream and hits the sprinkler body, causing movement around a circle.


The rate at which water enters the soil, usually expressed in depth of water per hour. (In the United States, usually expressed in inches per hour. Its metric equivalent is centimeters per hour.)  Infiltration rate is determined by the type of soil.


A set of components which includes the water source (e.g., domestic service or pump), water distribution network (e.g., pipe), control components (e.g., valves and controllers), emission devices (e.g., sprinklers and emitters) and possibly other general irrigation equipment (e.g. quick coupler and backflow preventer).


The quantity of water needed by the landscape to satisfy the evaporation, transpiration and other uses of water in the soil. The Irrigation requirement is usually expressed in depth of water and equals the net irrigation requirement divided by the irrigation efficiency. (In the United States, usually expressed in inches per week. Its metric equivalent is centimeters per week.)


The pipe installed downstream from the control valve on which the sprinklers are located.


Residual flow from low-elevation sprinkler heads in a system after the control valve has been closed. 


A pipe under constant pressure which supplies water from the point of connection to the control valves.


A valve used to protect the landscape from flooding in case of a ruptured main or malfunctioning downstream valve. The master valve is installed on the mainline after the backflow preventer and the control valves.


Matched precipitation rate (MPR) refers to sprinklers that apply water at the same rate per hour no matter the arc of coverage or part of a circle they cover. For instance, a full-circle sprinkler discharges twice the flow of a half-circle sprinkler and a quarter-circle sprinkler discharges half of what the half-circle unit does. MPR allows the same type of sprinklers, no matter what their arc, to be circuited on the same valve and to deliver the same PR rate. Spray heads have fixed arcs and are matched by the manufacturer, while rotors offer a choice of nozzles to match the Designed arc pattern.


The unique environmental conditions in a particular area of the landscape.  Factors include amount of sunlight or shade, soil type, slope and wind.


A device which monitors the amount of water present in the soil and modifies the watering schedule accordingly.


Male nominal pipe thread.


The final orifice through which water passes from the sprinkler or emitter.  Nozzle shape, size and placement has a direct effect on the distance, watering pattern and distribution efficiency.


The pressure at which a system of sprinklers operates. Static pressure less pressure losses. Usually as measured at the base or nozzle of a sprinkler.


The point at which plants can no longer extract moisture from the soil and die.


The place where the irrigation submain is joined to the water service line.


A semi-rigid plastic material used in irrigation systems.


A flexible black pipe used in irrigation systems.


Domestic or drinking water. It can be used as a source of irrigation water, but once water enters an irrigation system it is no longer considered domestic or potable.


The rate at which a sprinkler system applies water to the landscape. PR is expressed in depth of water per hours of operation. (In the United States, usually expressed in inches per hour. Its metric equivalent is centimeters per hour.)


The force per unit area measured. (In the United States, usually expressed in pounds per square inch. Its metric equivalent is Bars.)  Insufficient water pressure can result in poor sprinkler coverage, while excessively high water pressure may cause misting and fogging leading to water waste.


The amount of pressure lost as water flows through a system. Synonymous with Friction Loss.


A device which maintains constant downstream operating pressure which is lower than the upstream operating pressure.


The watering plan or schedule that tells the controller exactly when and how long to run each set of sprinklers. Many Rain Bird controllers offer multiple programs which can be useful on sites where different plant groups have different irrigation needs.


Acronym for pounds per square inch.


When water gathers in one location, such as at the base of a sprinkler or at a low spot on the site. Can be caused by low-head drainage, over-irrigation, or slow soil infiltration.


Low-amperage or electric switch designed for use with pump start circuits.


A permanently installed valve which allows direct access to the irrigation mainline. A quick coupling key is used to open the valve.


A device which prevents the controller from activating the valves when a preset amount of rainfall is detected.


Lets you turn the irrigation system off for a specific number of days without having to remember to turn it back on.


A valve which is actuated by an automatic controller by electric or hydraulic means. Synonymous with Automatic Control Valve.


A length of pipe which has male nominal pipe threads on each end. Usually affixed to a lateral or submain to support a sprinkler or anti-siphon valve. May also be used underground to connect system components.


Water which is not absorbed by the soil and drains to another location. Run-off occurs when water is applied in excessive amounts or too quickly for the soil to absorb.


A numerical expression which serves as an index of the uniformity of water application to a given area within a specific geometric arrangement of sprinklers (e.g., triangular or square). Used to measure the uniformity of landscape irrigation systems.


A threadless connection which is solvent-welded.


An irrigation control system that uses weather-based calculations and environmental conditions to determine how much water to apply to a landscape based on the plant water needs.  


A type of fixed spray sprinkler that pops up from underground and waters a set pattern, usually from 4 to 15 feet in range. Used for lawns and shrubbery areas.


The texture and structure of the soil particles which affects its ability to take in and store water for use by plants.  Soils range from clay to loam to sand.  Clay soils take in water more slowly than loam or sandy soils (lower infiltration rate).


An electromagnet which is connected to a controller and causes the opening and closing of automatic control valves.


A hydraulically operated mechanical device which discharges water through a nozzle or nozzles.


When you program a controller, you schedule the precise time you want to begin watering on water days.  The start time is the time the first station in a program begins to water.  All other stations in the program follow in sequence.  Remember, start times usually apply to the entire program, not to the individual stations.


The pressure in a closed system, without any water movement.


A circuit on the controller which activates a single control valve in the irrigation system to control watering for a particular zone.


A spring-loaded check valve used beneath a sprinkler to prevent low-head drainage. The check valve feature may also be built into the sprinkler.


An assembly of flexible swing pipe and fittings that are used to connect a sprinkler to the lateral pipe.  Allows you to easily adjust the sprinklers to grade level and also helps to prevent breakage due to force on the sprinkler.


A threaded connection of pipe and fittings between the pipe and sprinkler which allows movement to be taken up in the threads rather than as a sheer force on the pipe. Also used to raise or lower sprinklers to a final grade without plumbing changes.


The process where a plant's moisture is lost to the atmosphere through its leaves.


How evenly water is distributed over an irrigated area.


A valve is like a faucet. Valves respond to commands from the controller. When valves receive a signal to open, water flows to the sprinklers. when they receive another signal to close, the flow of water stops.


The speed at which water travels. (In the United States, usually expressed in feet per second . Its metric equivalent is meters per second .


A feature of Rain Bird controllers that let you easily change the run times of your sprinklers without having to reprogram the controller.  Use water budget to increase or decrease watering in response to changing seasonal needs throughout the year.


A damaging shock wave created when the flow of water in a pipe system suddenly stops. Usually the result of a fast-closing valve.


The force which is exerted by water. (In the United States, usually expressed in pounds per square inch. Its metric equivalent is Bars.)


The time of day available when watering can take place on a site.


The specific days of the week on which watering will take place.  For example, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or every third day.


The process of removing water from an irrigation system before the onset of freezing temperatures.  Necessary to prevent damage to the sprinkler system that can be caused by expansion due to freezing water in the pipes.


Standard unit of measure for wire size. The larger the gauge number, the smaller the wire.


The pressure of the irrigation system during operation. Synonymous with Dynamic Pressure.


A section of an irrigation system served by a single control valve. Zones are comprised of similar sprinkler types and plant material types with similar water requirements and soil types.