Ten Tune-Up Tips for Home Irrigation System


Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? Here are some tips to make your lawn the greenest on the block!

1. Get with the program
Run a check of your irrigation controls and programs. This includes dusting away the cobwebs on the timer, making sure your settings are appropriate for your watering needs, keeping in mind expected seasonal rainfall.

2. Clear your heads
Check for rocks, dirt, sand and other types of debris that may block the even flow of water from sprinkler heads, uneven distribution can lead to too much water in some areas and not enough in others, both resulting in a discolored, unhealthy landscape.

3. Do the can-can
Conduct a “Can test” for even watering. Place open, empty tin cans, or paper cups every 10-15 feet throughout your yard and begin watering. Compare the level of water in each receptacle. If the water level significantly differs, adjust the flow and spray pattern of the sprinklers as needed.

4. Out with the old in with the new
Replace cracked, chipped or worn plastic nozzles. Nozzles and sprinkler heads are designed to withstand the normal wear and tear of irrigation, but are no match for errant lawn mowers, the neighbor’s dog, or even curious kids. A broken sprinkler can wreak havoc on lawns, gardens, and water bills, so it is important to check and replace them periodically.

5. Spring is in the air before it is in the ground
Don’t be deceived by spring like temperatures. Increased air temperature does not always mean increased ground temperature. Use a small shovel to make sure that the ground below the lawn and garden is frost-free to a full 12 inches. Irrigating while the ground is frozen may result in a burst pipe

6. Follow the rule of six (inches)
Water long enough to saturate the soil six inches deep. Poke a screwdriver into the soil to see how deep the water is being absorbed. If the screwdriver meets resistance caused by dry-hardened soil less than 6 inches from the surface, then adjust watering times to increase soil saturation.

7. Run through the sprinklers
Since it is best to water the lawn and garden in the early morning hours, a problem may not be discovered until it is too late. Turn on the irrigation system, throw on a bathing suit and make sure everything is working properly.

8. Flush it out
Simply twist two sprinkler heads completely off and then turn on the sprinkler system for two or three minutes. This should flush out any debris that may have accumulated over the winter, and relieve air pressure within the underground pipes.

9. Value your Valves
Valves regulate the distribution of water throughout the entire system. A leaky valve will waste water and increase the water bill. Visually inspect each valve to make sure they are operating properly. Overly wet areas in the lawn, resulting in muddy and/or barren patches, may be a result of a leaky valve.

10. Be Prepared
Replace the back-up battery in the timer/controller every 6 months, and keep a copy of the watering schedule nearby. A power surge, or brief outage in the middle of the night could cause the timer/controller to reset and clear all of the pre-set watering programs, a glitch that may go undetected until the grass starts turning brown. A fresh back-up battery will provide enough power to keep the pre-set programs saved until the power resumes.

A few hours spent tuning up your home’s irrigation system could end up saving water, money and MOST IMPORTANTLY prevent a mid-summer catastrophe! Why not raise the bar in your neighborhood!

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