Is It Time for Irrigation System Maintenance?
How And When To Perform Maintenance On Your Irrigation System
You may have invested a lot of money on the best irrigation system you could possibly find on the market that was guaranteed to be as little of a hassle as possible. The top gardeners in the world may have recommended this irrigation system to you and told you that the irrigation system you were getting installed in your garden was extremely easy to use and would save you time and money in the end. This may all be true, but the truth is that even with the best state of the art irrigation system in your yard, you will still need to perform regular maintenance on it so that it stays working and operating correctly. It does not take long to do regular maintenance on your irrigation system and stay on top of repairs, and it only needs to be done once or twice a year, but it is vital that it be done so that it operates correctly and keeps your lawn looking as beautiful as possible. Below are some ways to maintain your irrigation system and some things you may need to look for to make minor repairs before they become costly issues.
1. Know the Length of Time it Takes for your Sprinkler to Water an Inch of Grass
During the fall, spring, and summer months your lawn will need to be watered the most so it stays as healthy as possible and looks vibrant and beautiful. In order to do this, you will need to give your lawn at least an inch of water to drink every week.
Usually, an irrigation system can cover your lawn with an inch of water in an average of fifteen minutes. Every month or two it would be wise to measure how long it takes for your system to pull that off; if it takes longer than fifteen minutes to deliver an inch of water to your lawn, then it is time to perform some minor maintenance on your system. All you need to do is try to readjust the system so the water flows better, look for leaks that you may need to quickly patch up, and check all of the sprinkler heads for any clogs that you may need to clean out. Once you do this it should be back up to water your lawn at the rate it is meant to go!
2. A change of Season Brings a Change in the Watering Schedule
Your lawn only needs a certain amount of water with each season that comes along. For example, in the spring the weather is not nearly as hot as it is smack in the middle of summer which means it will need less water than it does in the summer time. When fall comes back around and the weather begins to cool off, you can back off on the watering again. Every time the seasons change you need to adjust your irrigation system so that it puts more or less water out into your lawn. This can take some messing with on your irrigation system so writing it down somewhere once you have the right formula is a smart practice.
3. Test All of Your Sprinkler Heads
At least once, maybe twice a year, it is a smart practice to test each one of the sprinkler heads on your irrigation system in order to make sure that each one is working properly. The sprinkler heads get easily clogged by dirt, grass, weeds, and other debris so you want to clean them out so water can escape the nozzle properly. You also want to fix or replace the sprinkler heads that are broken or have come detached from the system as a result of normal wear and tear, mowing the grass over the heads multiple times for example.
If your water is sputtering and you are noticing dry or brown patches in your otherwise green and luscious lawn, that could be a sign that there is a leak in a line and water is not coming out as it is supposed too. Once you rule out a clogged sprinkler, check the line for a leak which can be easily patched up in a matter of minutes if found quickly.
4. Check for Run-Off Caused by Your Sprinklers
If you go out one day and notice that one patch of grass is getting too much water and is more water and mud than it is grass, or if you look and see that your driveway is getting as much water as your lawn is, then chances are you have a lot of run-off going on. The run-off will end up wasting a lot of your water and can cost you a lot of money in water bills, and the solution is simple! All you have to do is target the sprinkler heads that have caused the run-off to happen and readjust them to face the right direction. They more than likely got turned or shifted into an awkward position which caused the run-off issue, so a simple adjustment will save you money and keep your lawn from getting over-saturated with water.
5. Set your Timer Controller and Monitor It
Your controller which is often referred too as your irrigation system’s clock or timer can be a life source to you! If you are like most homeowners, you more than likely do not have the time to go outside every morning, afternoon, or evening, and turn the irrigation system on by hand, wait for it to water the lawn just the right amount, then go back out and turn it off all over again. To avoid this hassle, you can get a controller which will attach to your irrigation system and automatically tell it when to turn on and have a timer for how long it should stay on, and when the timer goes off the system shuts off. All of this being done without you ever having to worry about it or do anything yourself.
As discussed before, each change of season means that you need to water your lawn at a different time of day for a different amount of time. All you have to do is go to the controller and re-calibrate it so that it changes to your demands.
These controllers have a tendency to be finicky based on what type you get, so it is wise to keep an eye out and make sure that it is going on and shutting off when you want it too. If not, all it takes is a simple adjustment to have it back up and running in no time.
6. Install a Rain or Freezing Rain Sensor onto Your System
A rain sensor will tell your irrigation system when it is raining which will in turn not allow it to water while the ground is already wet. This keeps your lawn from being over-watered and keeps you from wasting water that you pay for. Nowadays, most newer models automatically come with rain sensors on them, if yours does not have one you can easily install it for not much money. A rain or freezing rain sensor keeps your grass from ending up as a muddy ball of mush causing your grass to drown, and it will also help keep your sprinkler heads from getting clogged when trying to run at the same time as a rain shower.
7. Look for Water Backup Coming Up Against Your House
If you go outside and notice that you have puddles of water starting to form after your watering system has gone off for the day, then your system may be backing up and not coming out of the sprinkler heads properly. If this is the case then you need to do some maintenance and fix the issue as quickly as possible as that could lead to water damage happening in your home and add up to pretty significantly costly repairs. This could be a simple fix like adjusting the way your system is sitting, or it could mean that there is a clog somewhere in the line that is causing the water to back up against your house and not come out of the sprinkler heads as it is supposed too. In this instance, it is usually recommended that you call a professional to come to look at your underground utility lines and see what the problem is so that you do not make the issue worse by trying to fix it on your own.
8. Adjust Your Sprinkler System so the Pressure is Not Too high
If you are outside when your watering system is on and doing your lawn and you notice that the water is getting into more areas than you want it too, or there is too much mist being created from the water shooting out of the sprinkler heads, then that means your water pressure is too high and needs to be adjusted. You will want to take care of this issue fairly quickly as high water pressure coming out of your sprinkler heads for too long can lead to cracked sprinkler heads that need to be replaced. If your pressure is too high that also means that you are wasting water and will come out with a higher water bill than is necessary.
You can fix this problem manually every time it happens, or you can visit your local hardware store and look for a pressure device that will automatically regulate the water pressure for you.
9. If You Have Hard Clay Soil or Large Slopes in Your Lawn, Let the Sprinkler Run on Intervals
If you have hard soil like a clay consistency for instance or your lawn has one or more slopes in it, then it is going to take longer for water to soak into the ground. In order to fix this issue and not create run-off or any mud puddles in your yard that drowns the grass you are trying to water, you should look into regulating your sprinkler’s timer so that it only sprays water in intervals. It can take some time to figure out the best way to do this, and you will have to do it by trial and error. You can figure out how much time the intervals need to be on by watering until you see some run-off happening, then adjusting the timer based on that. For instance, if you have the water going for seven minutes and start to see run-off, set the timer to shut off after seven minutes, allow the water to soak into the soil for seven to ten minutes, then come back on again for another seven minutes. This way the water comes on in cycles and keeps your lawn from experiencing any run-off or over-watering.
10. Hire a Professional to Check Your System
Though a large majority of these projects can be done on your own in a matter of minutes, it is a wise practice to call a professional irrigation specialist to come to check your system out once a year. They will be able to identify and fix more serious issues much more quickly and get them taken care of before they get worse and end up breaking the bank.
If you follow the steps above and treat your irrigation system the way it needs to be treated, then it will stand the test of time and keep your lawn looking green and luscious. It is easy to find all the parts you need to repair or replace your irrigation parts and none of them take long to change out, which means that keeping up with it can be a fairly easy and inexpensive job.
To ensure that the sprinkler system you spent a lot of money on stays working properly and keeps your lawn looking beautiful, perform regular maintenance on it and check all of the parts with every change of season. If you take care of it, it will take care of your lawn the way it was designed to do!