Now that spring has finally arrived, it’s time to take a close look at your irrigation system to make sure that it’s fully functional. Don’t wait until hot, dry weather arrives to find out that you have a problem! A thorough inspection and run-through of your irrigation system now will save time, money, and headaches associated with hidden system malfunctions.
Here are the most important things to look at in your irrigation system –
- Check each controller / timer and replace the batteries
- Check wiring (faulty or corroded wires are among the leading causes of system malfunction)
- Make sure the rain gauge / shut-off is working and is set to turn off the irrigation system when 1″ of water per week has been delivered through a combination of rain and watering (if you don’t have a rain sensor, install one!)
- Repair broken sprinkler heads (it’s amazing how many get damaged by snow removal equipment)
- Adjust all heads so that water sprays only on lawn (ideally, garden/flower beds should use drip irrigation, rather than overhead sprinklers)
- Unclog all drip emitters
- Check pipes and tubing for leaks (pipes that weren’t fully blown out in fall can freeze and crack during the winter)
- Check water pressure to be sure it’s at the correct level for your system
- Independently run each zone and measure the amount of water dispensed (irrigation delivery should be matched to the needs of the turf / plants in each zone)
When you’re sure the entire system is operating correctly, schedule regular system checks and adhere to a proper maintenance schedule throughout the irrigation season. After a lightning or electrical storm, check your controllers and irrigation system for damage. And if your plant choices change over the season, adjust your system accordingly.
Note: I’m not advocating the use of automated irrigation systems, merely pointing out the necessary steps to keep them working well. Check back soon for an article on eco-friendly watering and the EPA WaterSense program.
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