Sprinkler System Basics

Sprinkler system basics, useful information from Rachio, the company that makes Smart Sprinkler Controllers.

We know that sprinkler systems can be a little confusing. We’re here to help. Read on to review all the basics of most sprinkler system setups.

Backflow Preventer

In typical sprinkler systems, the water is distributed in only one direction: from the city to you. Sometimes the direction of the water can be reversed accidentally, so the backflow is in place to prevent any contaminated water from traveling back to your clean water supply.

Sprinkler Valve Box

In most cases, your sprinkler valve box will house your manifold and valves. Occasionally valves will be above ground. Valve boxes are generally around the permitter of your house – so when searching for your valves, start there!


The manifold distributes water to your valves, which are all individually connected. In the image below, the manifold is the main white tubing that branches off from the long singular tube. 


There are many valves in a sprinkler system. Pump control valves, master valves, and electric solenoid valves are the most common that you’ll encounter. These valves control the water flow from a number of different levels. 

Lawn Nozzles

Lawn nozzles are the final piece of your system (and one of few things that are above ground.) These release water to your yard at a variety of rates and angles.