The beautiful weekends have made me ready for Spring! The weekend weather has been perfect to get a little yard work done, but then it’s freezing again! When spring cleaning the yard by adding new mulch, trimming back frozen plants, and installing some color, those of us with automatic sprinkler systems need to think about prepping it for spring as well.
For most of us, our irrigation systems haven’t been used since October or November – -unless it came on and caused a frozen wonderland. That’s good that it’s been off. Before simply turning it on to run the last program it was running in the fall, it should be visually checked out to ensure that all is working well with it. I’m talking about setting a test program on your controller and visually inspecting the system to ensure that it’s working the way you expect it to, so that when you do start using it more frequently you won’t be surprised by high water bills, dying landscapes, or spotty coverage.
Since the inspection doesn’t need to take too long, again, it’s just a visual, you’re going to run the sprinkler system on the test program, or program in your own test program, for only 1 or 2 minutes per station. When you turn it on to run manually you are looking for problems like:
sprinkler heads that aren’t popping up–maybe grass grew over the head,
heads that are turned the wrong way and are spraying areas they shouldn’t be (i.e. driveways, the street, the house, the fence, cactus, into your neighbors yard); they just need to be physically turned to point the correct way;
leaking heads–these should be replaced;
heads that are covered by shrubs (side note: plants continue to grow after sprinklers are originally installed, so heads may not spray what they are “supposed” to if the shrub has grown up and covered the head completely); it’s time to trim the shrub or move the head;
areas of low water pressure — this could indicate a leak in the water line, or a broken head and may require additional time to inspect or calling a licensed irrigator to check it out; and
heads that DO pop-up, but no water comes out–that’s a clogged head and just needs to be cleaned out.
While the system is running, you can make notes of where the problems are to address once you’ve run through all the stations, or try to fix them while the system’s running. I recommend a water resistant jacket for that, or warmer weather and a swimsuit! Once you’ve adjusted the heads and make what fixes are needed, you are good to go in running the system through fully, knowing it will be efficient and effective in watering your landscape. That’s good!
Remember, when setting your controller for the spring, it’s best to start slow; watering once per week or less is plenty for this time for year and the City is still under Stage I water restrictions.
Watch our latest video on how to set up a test program for your controller: