10 Best Practices to Maintain Your Irrigation System
- Check Your Sprinkler Head Water Pressure Routinely
- Change Your Sprinkler Schedule
- Winterize Your Irrigation System
- Clean Out Sprinkler Heads
- Move Sprinkler Head Angles
- Keep up With Scheduled Irrigation System Maintenance
- Use Smart Irrigation Tools
- Flush Your Sprinkler System Annually
- Use the Right Pressure for Your Landscaping
- Consider Irrigation System Upgrades
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A great irrigation system is a real secret to a healthy, luscious lawn. But to keep your grass and foliage growing, your sprinkler system needs to be in tip-top shape. Replacing or fixing a broken system can be extremely expensive, and it may require you to dig up your gorgeous lawn in the process. For these reasons, it is crucial to keep up with irrigation maintenance all year round.
Well-maintained irrigation systems not only last longer, but they are also better for the environment (and your wallet). Systems that received routine maintenance use up to 15% less water!
Here are some of the best practices for irrigation maintenance that will make a tremendous difference with your sprinkler system.
Check Your Sprinkler Head Water Pressure Routinely
Any sudden (or even gradual) changes in the water pressure of your irrigation system could be a sign that something is wrong. Water pressure changes usually mean that there is a blockage or crack in the pipes. The sooner you address these types of issues, the better.
Generally, an irrigation system is set for a PSI of 40 to 65 for most lawns. If that number rises or falls, look to see if there are any obvious issues – such as a broken sprinkler head. If you can’t identify the issue externally, call an irrigation maintenance company to come to take a look.
Change Your Sprinkler Schedule
If you run your sprinklers constantly through each season, you will not only waste a lot of water, but you could wear out your system faster. There is no reason to have your sprinklers run as much during rainy spring or fall days as they do during hot summer months.
Instead, lower the system’s pressure or change the schedule so that it won’t run as often during times when your lawn is already quenched. You can even install rain or freeze sensors in the irrigation system so it will shut off automatically when the weather changes.
Winterize Your Irrigation System
Water expands when it freezes, so any water left in your irrigation system pipes in the winter could cause serious damage. It is extremely important to protect your sprinklers by winterizing them once temperatures reach or below freezing.
First, you will need to clear out as much water from your pipes as possible. Turn your irrigation system off and let the water drain out. To get every last drop, it is recommended that you use an air compressor to dry out the pipes. You can hire a professional service to do this since it is easy to burst the pipes during this process.
Finally, cover your sprinklers heads with plastic or other protective coverings so no snow or ice seeps in. This will help to protect your system until it’s ready to turn on again in the spring.
Clean Out Sprinkler Heads
Even small clumps of dirt or grass can clog up sprinkler heads and impact your irrigation system. So, you should routinely check all of the sprinkler heads to see if there are any blockages. It is especially important to check on them after you mow the lawn, since clumps of grass may pile up around the heads.
If your sprinklers need a more intense cleaning, you can carefully remove or unscrew them from the pipe and use a gentle cleaning solution. There may be a filter inside of the sprinkler, which you can carefully wipe down with a damp cloth.
If you have hard water build-up or rust, you can soak sprinkler heads in household rust remover to break up calcium or mineral build-up.
Move Sprinkler Head Angles
Sprinkler heads are often knocked around by lawnmowers, foot traffic, animals, or even strong gusts of wind. This can obviously damage the sprinkler and lead to uneven spray patterns. If the sprinkler is knocked over, you may need to scoop out some of the dirt beneath it so you can lift it straight again.
Keep up With Scheduled Irrigation System Maintenance
The best way to keep your irrigation system in good shape is to schedule routine maintenance. An irrigation system needs recurring inspections, cleanings, and upgrades to help catch small issues before they become bigger problems.
It is best to have your system inspected during the spring to make sure that it is ready for the seasons ahead. You may also want your sprinklers evaluated in the middle of the season to make sure that it is running efficiently.
Use Smart Irrigation Tools
You can use some of the latest technology to create a smart irrigation system. This will not only help you to cut back on water consumption, but it can also signal any issues before you may even notice them.
Smart irrigation systems use sensors to detect changes in weather, water pressure, evaporation rates to optimize water consumption accordingly. You can also operate your system remotely by turning the system on and off from an app on your phone. You can also receive alerts for any irrigation maintenance issues, such as a clog or cracked pipe.
Flush Your Sprinkler System Annually
It is recommended that you flush your system at the beginning of the season. This will push out any debris, dust, or dirt that has built-up in the pipes over the winter. You will simply need to turn on your water system and run it until everything runs clear. If this takes a long time or you notice excess debris in the water, call for irrigation maintenance to take a look.
Use the Right Pressure for Your Landscaping
Parts of your lawn may require different amounts and pressure of water. For instance, shrubs, gardens, and small trees will not take well to high-pressure sprinklers, whereas areas in direct sunlight may need more water throughout the day.
Irrigation system experts recommend using low volume or drip irrigation sprinklers for areas like gardens or shrubs for a gentle soaking.
You should also take the type of soil in your yard into consideration. If your soil has a high clay content or is extremely dry, you will need to adjust your sprinkler times for a deeper soak.
Consider Irrigation System Upgrades
If you keep up with irrigation maintenance, your system will last you for years and years. However, sprinkler systems aren’t made to last a lifetime. If your irrigation system is approaching 10, 15, or 20 years, you may want to consider upgrades.
Newer designs help to improve energy efficiency and come with bonus technical benefits, like smart control systems. Be sure to reach out to an irrigation specialist to see if there are any upgrades available to improve your system.
There are lots of little things that homeowners can do throughout the year to keep their sprinkler system operating at optimal capacity and avoid expensive repairs – but maintaining proper irrigation maintenance is the real secret to a great system.