Landscape Logic: Protect your sprinkler system |

Landscape Logic: Protect your sprinkler system

Becky Garber
Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

With daytime highs this week in the 60s, turning off your sprinkler system may not be high on the priority list. But don’t let warm weather lull you into blowing off blowing out your sprinkler system.

Just two years ago, overnight temperatures in early October dipped to 16 degrees. That early freeze caught many homeowners off guard and caused extensive damage to sprinkler systems that had not yet been winterized. Much of this damage wasn’t even found until spring.

An ounce of prevention

Backflow-prevention devices are one of the most costly components of a sprinkler system to replace – and the most vulnerable in a freeze. If an early freeze hits prior to blowing out the system, repairs can run $200 to $400. Wrapping this device with simple household items can prevent this damage.

The backflow-prevention device is usually found outside the home and close to the foundation. It’s clearly visible above ground. To protect it, simply wrap it with a large towel or household insulation, cover the towel with a sturdy plastic garbage bag and secure it around the bottom with duct tape. This should keep the device dry and protected if there’s a freeze before the system is winterized.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

But don’t stop there. In Colorado, you still need to winterize the entire sprinkler system by blowing out the lines with compressed air.

Failure to winterize sprinkler systems before prolonged freezes hit can also damage other expensive components, and repair costs can easily hit the $1,000 mark, not to mention that your yard will have to be dug up to make the repairs.

Winterize the system

• Blow out all the sprinkler lines with compressed air.

• If you hire a professional, average fees range from about $40 to $100 but can cost more or less, depending on the size of your yard.

• If you do the job yourself, be aware that a small shop compressor many people have in the garage won’t produce the 150 cubic feet per minute of air that the commercial-quality compressors do. These smaller compressors don’t have the pressure to get all of the water out – and it will take two to three hours to do the work a commercial-grade compressor can do in about 15 to 30 minutes.

• If you do hire a contractor, you can often get a better deal by getting everyone on the block to schedule with the same contractor on the same day.

Don’t forget to water!

Just because the system is off, don’t think you’re off the hook for watering. Last year’s warm, dry fall followed by a dry winter severely stressed and killed trees, shrubs and even lawns. Since snow does not contain adequate moisture, plan on watering trees and shrubs at least once per month October through April. If conditions are similar to last winter, also be ready to water the lawn.

Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-409-8945.

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