Do you need drip irrigation or garden valves in certain areas?
Drip irrigation is a very cost effective to install a system and it also happens to be a very cost effective way to water, as well. The valve, filter, and pressure regulator combination that is required for a drip zone will cost more than a control valve for a spray head or rotor zone, but the overall cost of the zone is much lower, especially if you are using emitter tubing. Drip zones require careful planning, but are well worth the effort.
Do you need a sprinkler timer that can automatically calculate the amount of water to apply?
The sprinkler timer or “controller” can be a fairly big driver of the cost of your sprinkler system, especially if a professional contractor is installing it. The latest trend is toward “smart controllers” which automatically calculate the amount of water to apply for a given geographic location at point of time in the season. Smart controllers help reduce the amount of overwatering while helping ensure survival of your landscape in the hottest months. The downside to these controllers is that they cost more, are harder to install (they require the mounting of sensors on a roof or other unobstructed location), and more difficult to program. Surveys of homeowners show that, while they like the concept of smart controllers, the complexity of operating them leads many homeowners to turn off the smart features and use them as a regular controller. Perhaps over time these controllers will become easier to use.
Do you need a rain sensor to automatically delay or shut off the system if it is raining?
The addition of a rain sensor to your system is pretty much a no-brainer. You can set these sensors to delay or shut off watering once they detect a certain amount of rainfall. This saves you from wasting water on rainy days and the annoyance of fines (in some communities) and public embarrassment as neighbors become more aware of water conservation.