Sprinkler Maintenance Tips For This Fall

sprinkler maintenance

If your home has a lawn/landscape irrigation system, regular inspection and sprinkler maintenance are key to keeping it operating efficiently and effectively. In addition to utilizing a professional service, such as Spring-Green’s Irrigation Maintenance Program, homeowners can take an active part in their sprinkler maintenance program periodically by walking the property and looking for visual cues to verify that their sprinkler system is working properly or that adjustments or repairs are necessary.

This can be done anytime you are out on the property, but a as a rule of thumb, the more traffic or use an area receives, the more often it should be checked.

What to Look For: Sprinkler Maintenance Tips

When something goes wrong with an irrigation system, the consequences generally fall into two categories: wasted water and plant damage or loss. Water is wasted if too much of it is applied or if it goes where it shouldn’t. Plant damage or loss, as the result of an irrigation issue, can occur if too much water or too little water reaches the affected plant(s). As you might imagine, these consequences can be quite costly.

Here are some things to note for sprinkler maintenance:

● Persistent puddling or saturated areas, even when the sprinklers are off, may indicate a line break. There are many possible causes for this, including winter damage, unusual activity, and ordinary deterioration.

● Misdirected water—i.e. a sprinkler head is watering the driveway or the side of your house instead of the lawn or bed—may mean the head requires adjustment or an obstruction needs to be cleared.

● Sprinkler heads and rotors are the parts that distribute the water to where it belongs. When these parts become worn or damaged or end up missing, the evidence is fairly easy to spot when the system is running, but may also be apparent while the system is off. Rotors that don’t rotate will cause over-watering in one direction and brown spots in another. Pop-up mechanisms that no longer retract are easy to spot, as are missing or physically broken heads.

● Leaks may occur many different ways. Water lines, valves, fittings, spray heads and rotors are common areas where sprinkler system leaks occur. Look for water squirting or streaming out from behind a sprinkler head or from anywhere water should not be coming.

● Dead zones—entire sections of a sprinkler system not receiving water—may be caused by a line break, mechanical issues, electrical issues, or some combination of these. Diagnostics will determine which of these is the case and what needs to be repaired or replaced in order to resolve the issue.

● Electrical gremlins in the form of failed sensors, faulty controllers, broken wires and more can also cause sprinkler systems, in whole or in part, to be on when they should be off and vice versa. Like any other electronic device, the “smart parts” of your irrigation system wear out. And just like smartphones and tablets, smart irrigation systems and controllers  require updates and upgrades from time to time.

End-of-Season Sprinkler Maintenance

It’s fairly easy to spend a lot of money on irrigation repairs. If you want to see a big repair bill next spring, all you have to do is ignore your irrigation system this fall. Proper winterization to remove all water from the irrigation system will help prevent freeze damage to the lines, valves, rotors and heads.

This is often done by introducing carefully controlled air pressure to individual zones until the entire system has been cleared. While this does not guarantee there will be no damage from shifting and movement of the ground during freeze and thaw cycles, it does remove the threat of freeze damage caused by water left within the sprinkler system components.

Fall winterization is a key component of Spring-Green’s Irrigation Maintenance Program. Do you have any questions or concerns about the current state of your irrigation system or sprinkler maintenance? Please do not hesitate to call on your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. We will be happy to share our expertise with you.

Sprinkler System Maintenance, What Should I Know?

sprinkler system

Many people use an automatic sprinkler system to water their lawn. For the most part, all one has to do is set the timer and the system will take care of the rest.

For sprinkler systems that are located in the northern parts of the country, it is important to blow out the system in the fall with compressed air. This helps to remove water from the lines so freeze damage does not occur. It also means that the sprinkler system has to be turned on for the following spring, but that is fairly simple. Open a valve, reset the timer and away it goes.

If only it were as simple as flipping a switch and it is done. If your sprinkler system is more than 5 years old, there is a good chance that the controller is out of date and does not have the latest in sprinkler technology. If it is not a “smart” controller, then your system is probably wasting water. The “smart” controllers have the ability to determine how much water your lawn and landscape requires on a daily basis. The use of rain sensors and in-ground moisture sensors are well worth the investment.

sprinkler start-up

Every year, companies that manufacture sprinkler systems come out with new, more efficient designs for spray heads and rotors. Installing more efficient designs will provide water in a more efficient manner. The nozzles that are an integral part of spray heads and rotors wear out over time and should be changed. The newer versions have the ability to reduce water usage while increasing uniformity.

A common problem with many sprinkler systems are leaks…

Common areas where sprinkler systems see leaks:

  • water lines
  • valves
  • fittings
  • spray heads
  • rotors

That is why a sprinkler system should be checked every spring by a professional service. They have the equipment, knowledge and experience to fix these problems. Even if only 1 cup of water is leaking per minute, which can result in a water waste of over 19,000 gallons over a normal 30 week period that most sprinklers are working.

Some of these types of repairs may seem simple, such as unscrewing a broken spray head and replacing it with a new one, but what happens if the supply line is damaged? Digging up the lawn to fix the break is a difficult task without the proper knowledge or tools. The same is true when faced with repairing a solenoid switch within a valve box.

Having your sprinkler system turned on by a professional is a good thing, but so is a mid-season tune up. Sprinkler heads can go out of alignment as the year progresses. Most people set their timers for the water to come on in the early morning. This lessens the chance of seeing where the water may not be missing or watering the street or driveway instead of your lawn. Water can be expensive, so make sure it stays on the lawn and doesn’t run into the storm drains.

Spring-Green offers irrigation service in select markets. Contact your Neighborhood Lawn Care Professional to inquire about this and all the beneficial services that Spring-Green offers.

What You Should Consider Before Watering Your Lawn?

green grass

The Irrigation Association promotes the efficient use of water on lawns and landscapes throughout the US. They also provide training, resources and certification in sprinkler design, installation, maintenance and auditing of water usage.

To maximize this effort, the association has named July as Smart Irrigation Month. July is typically the month with the highest water consumption, so it is the best time to highlight those practices that will save water.

The Irrigation Association stresses 5 important strategies to save water, save money and provide better results. These strategies are:

  • Plant right – landscape and gardens altered to better suit their terrain.
  • Invest in an irrigation system
  • Water wisely
  • Maintain and upgrade your system
  • Work with an irrigation professional

You can read more about these strategies at www.smartirrigationmonth.org, but since July is Smart Irrigation Month, it is appropriate to highlight the practices that use water on a more efficient basis. Here are some of the practices that the Irrigation Association highlights. in the section on Water Wisely:

Get in the zone

  • Almost all sprinkler systems use a controller to provide water to different zones throughout the lawn and landscape.
  • If your controller hasn’t been updated in more than three years, it is a good idea to upgrade to a new controller. This will allow you to set different time schedules per zone to meet the water requirements of the plant material and types of sprinklers in that zone. Different zones will usually require different watering schedules.

sprinkler system

Consider soil type

  • Soils absorb water at different rates depending on their makeup. Avoid watering more than your soil can absorb. It is a waste of water and it will have detrimental effects to your plants.

Don’t send water down the drain.

  • The most common misuse of water comes from sprinklers that water sidewalks, driveways and other impervious surfaces. Having your system checked for efficiency by an irrigation professional will save money on your water bills.

Water only when needed.

  • Once thoroughly watered, allow the soil in the lawn and landscape to dry out before watering again. By following this practice, the roots of the plants will grow deeper in search of more water.

Water at the best time.

  • Although it will not hurt your lawn or landscape, watering during the heat of the day is not an efficient practice as much of the water will be lost to evaporation. The best time to water is early morning. Avoid watering in the late afternoon to evening as this may increase the chance for disease development.

Water is a precious resource and the supply is not endless. Make sure your sprinkler system is working at peak performance and water wisely.

Fall Yard Chores: Get a Head Start on the Spring

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In my last blog post, I wrote about pulling up annual plants, judging which ones did well, cutting back perennials and mulching instead of raking your leaves. Here are some other chores to finish before winter sets in:

If you have a sprinkler system and haven’t had it blown out yet, time is rapidly running out.

Apply one more fertilization for the fall. For warm season grasses, you want to use a fertilizer that has very little nitrogen in it. For cool-season grasses, you want to apply a fertilizer that contains a high percentage of nitrogen.

If the temperatures are in the mid 50’s or above, plants will still be photosynthesizing, which means you can still control broadleaf weeds. This is the time of year to spray the difficult to control weeds, like wild violets or ground ivy. As these plants move food into their roots, the weed control will also be moved, working to control these weeds so that they will be less of a problem next year.

Fall is a great time to root feed your trees and shrubs. The best way to do this is to use a root feeder. You can purchase a root feeder at many hardware stores or home improvement centers, although most people hire a professional tree care company like Spring-Green to do the work for them.

Fall is also a great time to clean up your lawn mower. Many hardware stores provide this service, or you can do it yourself. If your mower has a 4-cycle engine, drain and replace the oil. Clean out the underside of the deck and scrape out the built up grass. Remove and sharpen the mower blade. Add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank so that it is ready to go next spring.

Finally, be sure to unscrew your garden hose from the spigot. I live in an area where temperatures often dip well below freezing, so I have to make sure I turn off the water inside so that the pipes do not freeze.

Fall always is a sad time in regards to gardening, at least for those of us that live in the northern climates. Spring will return before we know it and the whole process starts again. I can’t wait for the first of the seed catalogs and gardening fliers to start arriving in January.

If you’ve got better things to do, don’t worry—it’s not too late to start lawn care service. Get more info on our competitive rates, quality guarantee, and variety of services today.