How to build valve box

GW111July 27, 2013

What is the best way to "build" a valve box? Specifically, rock, wires, and PVC.

I recently had to repair wiring where 3 zone valves were buried - under mostly dirt. After digging everything up, I wanted to go back with boxes that were the best for future maintenance. I've read and looked at photos online but can't find the very best solution.

It seems 2" clearance under PVC is best, then a layer of 3" or so of rock (which type?) is most common. But... can you put rock everywhere else (next to zone wires)?

Then I see several valves located right next to one another. Here is something I found online:
If you have a valve go bad and have to cut the PVC, you are going to have to replace every freaking valve!! The PVC is far to short between joints! Am I missing something?

What is the VERY BEST setup for future maintenance/support? I want to re-wire, re-plumb, replace valves, with low maintenance... do it right the first time. What is the solution?

Thank you.

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There many creative ways to build valve boxes including on that look like rocks or flagstone, concrete etc. These are usually supported by a frame, concrete or plastic. Usually the frame is supported by 4" of medium gravel which is a couple of inches below the valves and wiring and wider that the frame by several inches. The most common are green pre-made plastic boxes of all shapes and sizes at ressonable cost. See link below:

Valves are usually clustered in several boxes with separate manifolds for different types of plantings (therefore different irrigation timing). You can separate the valves on the manifold with compression union fittings for ease of removal but since their replacement so infrequent this method is not common. I have supported pre-made boxes with bricks, gravel and with bad areas with poured porous quickcrete. The idea is that valves leak and the gravel allows the water to move away from the box. Some boxes are flush with the ground and some stick up above the ground. It is pretty much based on your ascetic view point. I like the ones that look like large rocks and are made of fiberglass and are hinged to a frame. JMHO Aloha

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 9:00AM
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Aloha. Thank you for your response. I'm accustom to the green boxes and desire the rock base for support. I guess I'm concerned about the wires and future maintenance. For example, if using 1in "gravel" type rock, will they "pinch" the wires or cause problems down the road? How much should exactly be stone/rock/gravel? The whole thing? At some point you are putting dirt over the gravel (which is an unfortunate thing, but necessary). Just looking for the best solution LONG TERM.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 8:16PM
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I don't understand the concept of placing dirt over the gravel but necessary. I have never done that and don't see the need for it. You want any water leakage to go into the gravel and dissipate into the earth below the gravel. The gravel even an inch in diameter won't hurt the wiring unless you plan on burying the wire in the gravel which you should not do. The top of the gravel is to support the bottom of the box which should be below the bottom of the valves. Aloha

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 11:51PM
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I want grass to grow on the area around the box, but the gravel is wider than the box so .... I have to put dirt on top for the grass, no? I normally see grass growing on other boxes right to the edges. How do you not put dirt on top? I'd prefer it that way myself, but wouldn't look good.

About those wires - how do you not put them in the gravel, if they must go from the solenoid to under the ground and out?

Thanks again. Aloha.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 9:48PM
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The gravel is not placed from the bottom of the box to the top and around the edge. The gravel layer is below the box and the box sits on top of the gravel. Therefore the gravel will be below the ground surface by the height of the box which has its top flush with the grass. The gravel outside the box has soil on top of it to the depth of the box (grass can grow). The valves in the box are just above the gravel not buried in gravel. The wires in the box are above the gravel not buried in the gravel. The wire will go from inside the box into the soil outside the box and routed to the controller or through other boxes and then to the controller. I hope this is clear. Also use waterproof connector to connect solenoid wires in the box. It can get damp in the box. There should be an illustration of this somewhere in Google space. JMHO Aloha

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 10:36PM
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