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New Member


Wednesday, March 12th 2014, 7:22pm

Help needed! 1st irrigation system

I'm looking to purchase my 1st irrigation system in Houston, TX. I'm deciding between two contractors who had similar plans and cost except for one thing. 1 contractor suggested to directly connect the sprinkler heads to the PVC pipe by screwing them to the pipe. The 2nd suggested using a flex (funny?) pipe to connect the sprinkler head to the PVC pipe. I live on a corner lot. From what I was told the flex pipe is a good idea because it is more forgiving for any shifts in the line. If someone would drive over a head, probably leaving the head to be replaced as opposed to it screwed in and cracking the line causing a leak. I've been searching online but haven't been able to find a definite answer. What are the pros and cons for both? I understand the possibility of them being driven over especially by the corner of the driveway, but will they shift and constantly need to be adjusted? Any help and input would be greatly appreciated.


Supreme Member

Posts: 5,288

Location: Metro NYC


Thursday, March 13th 2014, 12:40pm

Heads can shift with any installation technique. The question becomes can you shift them back. With swing pipe and swing joints, you have that capability. Without the swing joint, you have a much tougher time straightening crooked heads.

Ask the swing pipe installer if he will have a "Marlex elbow" threaded into each sprinkler head. They make for a complete swing joint, with optimum flexibility and durability. Ask for them by name.




Friday, March 14th 2014, 9:01am

It's pretty standard practice these days to use a swing joint fitting and not install directly into the pipe. Instead of keeping a simpler design of PVC pipe installation the installer must use a ton of more fittings to get the pipe exactly where the head needs to go. This takes longer, costs more and not as giving for sprinklers when they break and in my opinion the installer putting them directly into the piping doesn't have as much knowledge on sprinklers as he should , at least doesn't know how to be efficient.

Not every head needs a Marlex.. At about 15" of swing pipe you can angle the sprinkler head any direction. Marlexs are very common to break if ran over


Supreme Member

Posts: 5,288

Location: Metro NYC


Friday, March 14th 2014, 10:38am

Good marlex is pretty strong stuff. Even with the newer, thinner, higher-density version of marlex, those elbows are stronger under a head than a swing-pipe elbow.

However, I wouldn't answer for what low-grade marlex do in the field, by way of durability. I don't have worries over the standard-coded marlex elbows ability to endure. (standard-coded means part numbers of 412-006 and 412-008 for the marlex ells, which are fittings that meet standards of dimension and material strength)

I see many, many more broken swing-pipe elbows than I see broken marlex ells.

One more reason I advocate the marlex is that there are numerous swing-pipe elbows that are made from the cheaper, more brittle ABS plastic, instead of the more expensive acetal plastic (like Delrin) that is used in the swing-pipe elbows sold by Toro and Rainbird. A standard-coded marlex ell under the head takes the swing-pipe elbow out of the reliability equation.

Central Irrigation

Supreme Member

Posts: 371

Location: Central Minnesota


Friday, March 14th 2014, 12:05pm

I guess I am of the opinion, that a more rigid connection (if installed correctly) will keep a head straighter, longer. However, like others have stated, areas of concern would be driveway corners, and along driveways themselves. I would have no qualms of connecting dirrectly to the PVC, so long as the installer uses a flexible riser, versus a rigid PVC riser. If something would have to give, the softer risers can compress/move without risk of breaking the PVC fittings. Hpwever, concern areas would be better served with swingjoints.


New Member


Monday, March 17th 2014, 7:56pm

Thank you all for the help. I decided to use the swing pipe installer. Will get the system installed this weekend and will let you know how it goes.


Senior Member

Posts: 18

Location: Austin Texas


Tuesday, March 18th 2014, 8:11pm

I'm a fan of the pre assembled Hunter 6"swing joints.
We install the with every head we replace.

They are only a buck and they are super tough.

If you guys are not using them I recommend at least checking them out. They save a ton of time on installs and leveling heads.


Licensed Irrigator
Austin, Texas

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