How to Move Sprinkler Heads in Five Easy Steps

A low angle sprinkler in action.
What You'll Need
Flex pipe
What You'll Need
Flex pipe

As your landscape grows and matures, you may find that tree branches or plants are blocking the spray from your sprinkler system. Moving an inground sprinkler head is not a difficult task, and it is an important one to learn because it means the difference between an unchanging landscape and one that can grow and change over time.

Step 1 - Plan the Move

Decide which sprinkler head needs to be moved and where the best new location will be. Any head can be moved by as much as four feet using flex pipe, which you can find plumbing and irrigation store. If you are relocating your sprinkler head more than a few feet away, consider using painting tape to outline your route before you start digging the trench.

Step 2 - Dig a Trench

Dig a trench between eight and 12 inches deep and four to six inches wide, running from the current location of the sprinkler head to the planned location. Make sure that you turn the irrigation system off at its controller at this point.

If you need to dig around a mature tree or shrubs and roots get in the way, do not try to sever them as this could damage the plant. Instead, use a small trowel to tunnel underneath.

Step 3 - Insert Flex Pipe

Measure your trench and cut a length of 3/8-inch flex pipe a few inches longer than this measurement. It is always smart to leave a little extra, just in case.

Next, unscrew the sprinkler head from its riser, and unscrew the riser from the pipe to remove the entire framework of the sprinkler head. Insert an elbow of flex pipe into the existing riser tee or combination elbow and tighten it to hand tight. Then, attach the measured length of flex pipe to the elbow by sliding it directly over the nipple, as the flex pipe's diameter is slightly smaller than the pipe intended for the water line. Twist the flex pipe into place. No clamps should be required in order to create a connection.

Step 4 - Fasten Another Elbow

Now, fasten another flex pipe elbow to the pipe, this time to the open end. Place the sprinkler head onto the elbow and then turn until it has become hand tight. Hold the sprinkler head in the location you want it with the top of the sprinkler head sitting at ground level.

Step 5 - Flush the System and Fill the Trench

Before filling the trench back up, flush the system by turning on your irrigation system for a few seconds. Debris or dirt may have gotten stuck in the new pipe during the digging process and it's important to get it out. Flushing out the pipes now prevents you from having to dig up the head again in the event of a clog.

Finally, backfill the area surrounding the head using your free hand while you hold the sprinkler head in the right place with your other. Make sure you pack dirt tightly around the sprinkler head to keep it in place. Once the head has been secured, you can completely fill in the trench, replacing the sod around the sprinkler head. Activate the sprinkler system afterward so that you can make sure the spray reaches your plants in the new position.

Need new sprinklers? Compare brands, types and prices with our Sprinklers Buyer's Guide.

Move Sprinkler Heads FAQ

How do you adjust sprinkler heads for distance?

If your sprinklers are not spraying water far enough and producing only a short spray, a few factors may be affecting the water spray. The sprinkler heads may be clogged or may even be sitting too high.

Sprinklers that are too high will produce shorter sprays of water, not longer. Lower sprinkler heads so they are about a half-inch off the surface of the ground and check for clogs to see if this solves the problem.

How far down should sprinkler heads be?

Sprinkler head assemblies are typically buried six to eight inches below the surface of the soil, with the head sticking up to sit less than half an inch off the ground.

How deep are sprinkler pipes buried?

Sprinkler pipes are buried six to 12 inches deep, depending on the hardiness zone you live in and how much frost and snow occurs in your region.

How long do sprinkler lines last?

With regular maintenance, sprinkler systems will typically last 15 to 20 years, though this does vary based on the quality of the system and the severity of weather conditions in your area.

Is it better to run sprinklers longer or more often?

You want to water grass deeply in order to help it withstand times of drought and low water, but you do not want to water grass too deeply. If you receive a normal amount of rainfall, watering grass once or twice a week for about 30 minutes per session will keep the lawn green and healthy.