Nice walkway

Prep Sprinkler System for New Walkway

Beautiful stone walkway
A beautiful stone walkway

DISCLAIMER: This information on this site is for entertainment purposes only. The authors and owners of this site accept no responsibility or liability for any actions taken by readers. If you are not comfortable attempting repairs, please hire a licensed professional. Thank you!

You have a perfectly good walkway that does its job just fine. It was there when you moved in and sure it works, but is that enough? 

Boring concrete walkway
Basic, builder-grade, concrete walkway

You don’t want to just get from point A to point B. You want to enjoy the journey from your driveway to your front door. Are you enjoying your journey on your basic concrete path?

Boring concrete walkway
Basic, concrete walkway

No? So what do you do? You tear that old walkway out and tell it to get lost! Scram, old walkway! Put an egg in your shoe and beat it.

And then? You build a new walkway, of course. Well, not you. You’re not a stone mason. You hire a stone mason to build you a new walkway. 

Beautiful walkway
A beautiful stone path

But wait! You have an irrigation system to consider. And aren’t there lots of sprinkler pipes and heads in that area? 

Sprinkler heads watering
Sprinkler heads watering

What do we do about those?

I’ll tell you what you do about those. First things first, find a quality masonry company or landscaping company that is licensed and has liability insurance. And once you land on the best proposal from the most qualified contractor, you sign that proposal.

Okay, now what? Well, before the construction work begins, you ask the walkway contractor to mark the path of the new walkway with flags or yard marking paint. And then you get your irrigation company out to move the irrigation components out of the way of the new walkway.

I’m going to take this opportunity to warn you about conduit as early on in the process as possible. 

Conduit or sleeves are largish pipes that are laid down across the path of the new walkway underground. They allow smaller pipes and wires to be fished through at any point in the future. 

PVC pipe
PVC pipe

Having conduit or sleeves installed prior to the new walkway being installed is hugely important. Probably the most important step you can take to prepare for the walkway.

This is because if the new walkway is installed without sleeves being laid down ahead of time, and anything in the area needs to be changed in the future, you will be out of luck.

Without sleeves or conduit, it is theoretically possible to get pipes across the new walkway in many circumstances, but it requires considerably more work and will cost you more money, and it will disrupt the plants and sometimes the walkway stones in the area. 

Hand-boring without sleeves or conduit involves digging two very large holes on either side of the walkway and hammering a capped piece of PVC pipe underground. If you encounter a big rock, well, then you need to fill in and abandon the two giant holes you already dug out and start again with two new big holes elsewhere along the walkway. And maybe you will encounter another rock at the new site and you’ll be out of luck again.

And hand boring is the best case scenario if you don’t have sleeves. In some situations it is either not possible to hand bore under a walkway because the distance is too far (or if the angle is too weird); or you may need to pull up the brick or stones…if that is even possible. 

Obviously a concrete walkway isn’t going anywhere. And if your brick or stones were cemented in place, you’re out of luck. But if no concrete is used, you can often pull up the bricks or stone to dig a path across for the sprinkler pipe or wire.

But what an unnecessary and expensive hassle that will be. And the brick or stone will probably always look a little janky after that. So, PLEASE. Pretty please. With sugar on top. Make absolutely certain to have conduit laid before the walkway is installed.

Most conduit is a 1.5” – 2” PVC pipe laid down in a perpendicular pattern anywhere you may need to run pipe or wires in the future. 

And there are many non-irrigation related reasons you may find yourself needing sleeves in the future. Here are a few:

  • Landscape lighting
  • Festive Holiday lights for:
    • Christmas
    • Hanukkah
    • Halloween
    • Fourth of July/Independence Day
  • Running a new outdoor power outlet/receptacle 
  • Running a new drain pipe away from your house for:
    • Downspouts
    • Sump pump drain
    • French drain

Beyond conduit, the next important step is going to be moving the irrigation system components out of the way of the path of the new walkway.

Sprinkler heads are pretty easy to relocate. The process involves digging up the head, cutting the lateral or feeder line, and attaching a new pipe fitting. Then, attaching new pipe, trenching the new pipe in, and attaching a second pipe fitting to the other side; and reattaching the sprinkler head. And then adjusting the sprinkler head. 

Sprinkler head
Sprinkler head

But mainline pipe, wire, and valve boxes are more challenging. Valve boxes contain valve manifolds, which are a convergence of sprinkler mainline, wire, valves, and feeder lines. In order to move a valve box one needs to dig it all up, remove it, and then trench the pipes and wires over to a new location and install the valve manifold all over again.

Moving mainline and sprinkler wire is also likely to be more challenging than simply moving sprinkler heads.

If the mainline pipe is PVC, it will need to be cut. Then a new pipe fitting (usually one [or several, depending on the angle] 90° or 45° fittings will need to be glued on to the mainline. Then, PVC pipe. Then, another pipe fitting (probably a coupling) will need to be glued on to connect back up to the other side of the mainline.

Moving sprinkler wire involves cutting the multi strand wire, splicing a new piece of wire to each of the individual zone or station wires, then running the new wire back over to the wire on the other side and splicing it together there also.

Once all of your irrigation components have been moved out of the way of the new walkway, it is a good idea to mark or flag the irrigation components before the walkway is put in. 

Then everything should be ready for the new walkway to be installed. Now you can enjoy your journey from your car to your front door, rather than merely tolerating it.

Beautiful walkway
Enjoy the journey!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *