Why You Should Consider Installing a Sprinkler System Before Landscaping

Kristi Pahr
Written by Kristi Pahr
Updated March 15, 2022
automatic sprinkler system watering the lawn
Photo: maykal / Adobe Stock


  • Installing your sprinklers first can prevent damage to grass and plants.

  • You’ll be able to address any potential drainage issues.

  • You’ll ensure your plants and lawn will get adequate water coverage.

  • You can include your landscape team in your sprinkler system design.

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Are you getting ready to make your landscape dreams come true? Whether it’s new sod, beautiful perennial planting beds, or a few chic feature trees, you want your landscape to thrive. To do that, you need to ensure it gets adequate water. Installing an in-ground, automatic sprinkler system is the best way to give your landscape what it needs. 

But when is the best time to install your sprinklers—before or after your landscaping goes in? Read on to find out why getting your sprinkler system in place first is your best option.

Prevent Damage to Landscaping

New landscaping isn’t cheap, and once it’s in, you want to do everything you can to ensure it does well. To ensure your landscaping cost isn’t for nothing, you’ll most likely want to install a sprinkler system. Installing an irrigation system can damage existing landscaping, especially delicate new sod. Trenching tools and other heavy equipment can ravage your landscape, and it can take time to recover from damage. 

Installing your sprinkler system before you put in new landscaping will protect your investment and save you the heartache of seeing your beautiful new yard transformed into a mini-construction area. 

Know Your Irrigation Coverage for Planting

Garden sprinkler watering the outdoor flower bed
Photo: Douglas Sacha / Moment / Getty Images

When you and your local landscape professionals are planning out your backyard paradise, it’s essential to know which plants to plant for sun exposure and water coverage. Some areas of your yard will get more water, and some will get less, depending on the layout of your sprinkler heads.

By knowing which areas get what amount of water, you can plan your landscape more effectively and know you aren’t leaving any water-loving plants high and dry and vice versa. You can even take it a step further and involve your landscaping professionals in designing your sprinkler system, ensuring you get coverage where you need it most.

Plan for Drainage

Very few of us have completely flat yards. There are dips and rises, yes, but there is also an overall grade or degree of slant to any piece of land. And since water always flows downhill, it’s important to know where your irrigation water runoff will go. 

By installing your sprinkler system before your landscaping, your landscapers can plan for French drain installation or even small retaining walls to make sure your landscape stays where it’s put and that you don’t end up flooding your prize-winning roses, overflowing your water feature, or developing a mud hole in the low-lying spots in your yard.

Consult with Your Landscape Architect or Planner

If you’re planning on having major work done on your landscape, chances are you’ll want to consult with a professional landscape designer. By collaborating with a professional to draw up your landscape plan, you can be sure your local sprinkler system installer will be able to design a system that fits the unique needs of your new backyard oasis.

Installing a sprinkler system after you have landscaping installed will likely result in poor coverage and drainage issues, not to mention a yard crisscrossed with upheaval from trenching tools and equipment.

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