Tortorello Sprinkling Systems logo

The summer of 2005 saw record drought. While most lawns became brown and brittle, our customers' lawns remained soft, cool, and green. These photos are unretouched!

All about sprinkling systems

Chicago weather is fiendishly designed to destroy your landscape investment. Summers bring stifling heat and frequent droughts with occasional torrential rains thrown in to see if we're paying attention. In the winter Mother Nature tries to kill everything that was green in summer. And then the city throws in some road salt for good measure. If the weather doesn't kill your lawn, trees, and plantings, it can leave them weak and unable to repulse diseases and insects who are glad to finish the job.

What to do? Portable sprinklers are wasteful of water, a precious natural resource. They drench some areas and leave others thirsty. Portable sprinklers water sidewalks, streets, and your neighbor's yard. Besides, hauling hoses around is dirty and difficult.

The solution is a professional underground sprinkler system that can protect your landscape investment by putting the right amount of water where it is needed most, encouraging deep healthy rooting.

Our systems are fully automatic. You can set it to run whenever you wish: Every day at the same time, twice a day, every other day or at just about any other interval you wish. And you can easily override the system and manually turn it on anytime you want.

So stop hauling hoses! Stop tripping over sprinklers! Contact us for your free estimate.

Rotary head Can't I install a sprinkling system myself?
You can. But you shouldn't. It is far more complex than you think. We are experts at hydraulics and making sure you have adequate pressure and flow to each zone and each individual sprinkler head. We're experts in how much water to put down in sunny spots, in shady spots, and on different soil types. Professionally installed systems don't waste water. We know where to place low angle nozzles for windy locations, how to waterproof electrical connections, and other tricks of the trade. Most important, sprinkling systems must be connected to municipal water systems. Many communities won't let an unlicensed installer touch their system, and most require special backflow preventers that are tricky to install. If you mess up it could cost you far more than you can save by doing it yourself. If you've already tried doing it yourself, give us a call. We're experienced at fixing botched installations, too!

What should I look for in a contractor?
Spray head Remember, you are not just buying a commodity, you are buying a service. The contractor is just as important as the parts being used. Ask how long the contractor has been in business. Ask for the names of recent customers. Make sure the company has a license, certification, and liability insurance, worker's comp, and automobile insurance. What kind of warranty is offered? Do they use reputable products such as Hunter, Rain Bird, Irritrol, Toro, or Weathermatic? Do they answer all your questions? Will you get a detailed written price quote?

So how long have you been in business?
In 2004 we celebrated our 30th anniversary! Things have changed a lot in the world and in the world of irrigation since 1974, but one thing has not changed. We still do great work at a great price. We have scores of customers who will recommend us. For a list, click here.

Are you licensed?
We are a Licensed Irrigation Contractor with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Are you certified?
We are certified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense program and we are a Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) by the Irrigation Association. What's this mean?

WaterSense is a partnership program sponsored by EPA to make it easy for Americans to save water and protect the environment. They say "Look for the WaterSense label to choose quality, water-efficient products. Water efficiency is the long-term ethic of conserving water resources through the employment of water-saving technologies. Landscape irrigation professionals include designers, auditors, or installation and maintenance professionals that are certified to implement water efficiency best practices. To qualify for the label programs must demonstrate proficiency through examinations and be subject to independent oversight." This means that we use products and methods that will save you water and money and protect our water supply and environment.

Certified Irrigation ContractorA Certified Irrigation Contractor is an irrigation specialist whose principal business is the execution of contracts to install, repair, and maintain irrigation systems. A CIC has

1) A minimum of three years of irrigation-related experience or two years of irrigation-related experience plus one year of irrigation-related education.
2) Passed a 4-hour, closed book written examination.
3) Agreed to follow the Code of Ethics established by the Certification Board.

Irrigation contractors execute layout, staking, excavation, boring, trenching, grading, back-filling and limited design. They install all piping and water delivery components. They install the irrigation controls, including mechanical, hydraulic and electrical systems. Contractors troubleshoot and repair all of these components and systems.

Irrigation contractors read site, contour and grading plans, as well as various “shop drawings” used in installation. They should be knowledgeable of the various soil conditions which affect the installation and operation of the irrigation system. They should be able to effectively choose and schedule the required installation equipment.

Irrigation contractors work with all types and classifications of pipe. They should be able to perform the necessary cutting and joining of these different materials, understand the limitations of each piping system and have knowledge of the required fittings and components of the water delivery system, including backflow prevention components. They should understand basic hydraulics as applied to pumps, irrigation piping, sprinkler heads, water hammer and backflow prevention principles.

Irrigation contractors should have knowledge of the various types of control devices used in irrigation systems, including mechanically, hydraulically and electrically controlled valves and irrigation controllers. They should have basic electrical knowledge needed for installation of electric motors and associated electronic control systems. They should have knowledge of the required licensing laws and codes in their respective states.

In addition, they should know the principles of good business practices, organization, accurate bookkeeping, and timely material and labor take-offs and bids. They should be able to organize and schedule projects. They should understand construction contracts, as well as their legal rights and obligations.

Are you insured?
We not only have general liability insurance, but worker's comp (this protects you from potential liability if one of our workers is hurt on your property while on the job), and automobile insurance.

Eleonora Duse quote What kind of warranty do you offer?
All our work carries a two-year warranty on parts and labor.

Will I need special permits?
Yes, you'll need municipal permits, but don't worry about it. We'll take care of it. We know how to work with City Hall.

Will I get a written price quote?

Can you work with my landscaper?
We coordinate with landscapers to ensure that turf, flower beds, vegetable gardens, trees, and plants get exactly the right amount of water. We strongly recommended that you bring us in as early as possible, especially for new construction.

Hi-tech sprayheads Will installation destroy my existing lawn and plantings?
It's best if we can do our installation prior to landscaping, but if you already have a lawn and garden, rest assured that we use the latest tools and technology so we make minimal marks on your property. Our ground splitting equipment leaves a small scar that heals in days, and we can route pipes around trees and beds.

Will your installation tear up my sidewalks and driveways?
No. We have specialized equipment that augers under sidewalks and driveways.

Some parts of my yard need more water than others. How will TSS deal with that?
A properly designed system will make sure that you get the water where it is needed. We have a variety of sprinkler heads tailored to the needs of different vegetation, lawns, garden beds, narrow strips of grass, and wide expanses. In addition, we divide the system into zones so that you can control the application of water when and where you need it without an undue burden on your water pressure.

Millay quore How long will it take to install?
This depends on the size of the job, but residential jobs typically take only a day or two, weather permitting.

What is a backflow preventer?
A backflow preventer is a device that prevents water laying in the pipes from flowing back into your drinking water supply or the city water supply.

Hunter Logo What brand of sprinklers do you use?
We use the right parts for the job selecting from the best manufacturers. We are particularly fond of Hunter products. Check them out at

Will my lawnmower or edger damage the sprinkler heads?
Not if they are installed properly. We use retractable heads on lawns, and we place them away from the edge of the grass.

Will the pipes freeze in winter?
Not if they are drained properly. We can show you how to do it, or if you don't want to bother, we can do it for you.

What kind of maintenance is needed?
The only maintenance needed is draining the system in the fall and an annual check of the backflow preventer.

What happens if something goes wrong with the system?
If there is an emergency, the system is easy to shut off, and we have an expert service department that can be there promptly.

Controller How complicated is the system for me to operate?
If my brother-in-law can handle his system, you can too. Seriously, we will show you how to use the controller, and it comes with a simple manual.

Can I afford it?
A first rate system is surprisingly affordable, especially when you consider your investment in landscaping and the cost of wasted water. Beautiful landscaping can do more to enhance the value of your property than practically anything else, and the installation of a sprinkler system immediately adds value to your property. Realtors call it "curb appeal." In addition, financing is available through our contractors and other financial institutions.

How will a system save me money?
No more overwatering. No more replacing turf or plants that are underwatered. No more watering the sidewalk and streets. No more watering the neighbor's lawn. You do the math.

Will my system run when it rains?
We use adjustable rain sensors to shut the system off in the rain. They even prevent the system from coming on if it has rained recently.

Will a system save me time?
No more dragging hoses and running in and out of the water adjusting the heads. No more jumping up from the couch to move the sprinklers, and no more overwatering when you fall asleep on the couch. How much time will that save you? You do the math.

When should I water and how much water should I use?
Watering chart
Depending on the weather, we recommend that you start watering in mid May, increasing the amount of water throughout the summer, and then taper off in the fall, shutting down the system in late October. You will want to adjust the frequency of watering with weather conditions. The best time to water is in the cool morning when less will evaporate. For more information about irrigation and watering, visit the site created by California State University, Fresno:

Can I shower when the sprinkler is running?
We measure your available water pressure and plan the zones so that there is plenty of water pressure left for you to shower or do the dishes.

Will you give me the lowest price?
If you look hard enough you may find someone less expensive. But beware of lowball contractors who use inferior products, cut corners, and cannot offer timely service. We install the best value systems at competitive prices that are tailored to your needs and budget, and we offer skilled, prompt service. Buy value, not price!