Selecting Underground Sprinkler Pipe: PVC or Polyethylene?

An underground sprinkler pipe system can be a great investment in the future survival of your garden. Sprinkler heads that retract when not in use will make the system less noticeable.

PVC or Polyurethane

Choose pipes for the situation in which they will be used, not for the material from which they are made. It is fairly safe to assume that pipes sold by a professional garden supplier will not be harmful to the garden. Your main concern about the pipes should be if they will stay open under ground. Piping that is too thin or too flexible could make the sprinkler system totally useless since it would be incapable of delivering water.

Available Accessories

In addition to the pipes, you will need to have a good supply of reliable accessories to enable you to lay out your sprinkler system to the best benefit of your garden.

  • Sprinkler Heads - These should have connectors that will create a firm and watertight seal to the pipes.

  • Other Junctions - For other junctions in the pipes you need to know that each leg will be reliable. Of particular importance is the initial connection to the mains supply since that is where the greatest pressure will be.

Flow Rate

In order to have a good sprinkle zone for the water, consider the rate at which water can be handled by the pipes. For a large garden with a substantial number of sprinkler heads, the main feed pipe will need to be much larger than a hose pipe. You might even have to use a more substantial pipe. If you are uncertain, consult a professional.

Supply Pressure

Once you have worked out the necessary flow rate, ensure that the water supply to your property can provide this pressure. You may need a special water main installed for the sprinkler system.


To get the best value for money and to avoid wasting precious resources, organize your sprinkler system so that areas with different requirements receive only what they need. This could mean that you split the sprinkler system into distinct sectors. Trees, for example, might only need watering once a week, while flowering plants need water every morning.


While designing the different sectors of the garden, consider investing in a control panel that will allow you to program the correct level of water supply to each of the sectors.

Whether you choose PVC, polyurethane or even polyethylene pipes, focus more on the way the pipes will be used and your efforts to conserve water.