Landscape Logic: Turn on the sprinklers
May 27, 2012
Temps start to climb around Memorial Day. If you haven’t already started up your sprinkler system, this is probably the time to do it. Voluntary watering restrictions are in place in many areas, and that means we need to be more careful about saving water.
Since most people run sprinklers early in the morning before they get up, they rarely see them running and won’t know about any problems. That’s why it’s a good idea at the start of the watering season to turn on the water and look for problems.
Everything you fix now will save water all season long.
Look at each one of the sprinklers while it’s running.
• Make sure heads are moving correctly and aimed at the grass – not the street.
• Next, look for geysers that are shooting water straight up in the air. That usually indicates that the sprinkler head itself is missing.
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• Finally, look for nozzles that might be clogged. Unplugging nozzles is a quick job with instant results.
How do you know if there are major problems?
• If one area of the system doesn’t work at all, that might be an electrical or other problem that will require some troubleshooting.
• Line breaks also can keep an area from watering.
• If you see the ground start to mound up like a bubble, turn the water off immediately. That could indicate a major break in the sprinkler pipe caused from a winter freeze.
All of these problems will most likely need a trained technician to fix.
Check out the timer and schedule it for watering:
• Replace the battery so that the program that tells sprinklers when to water is saved if there’s a power outage.
• Schedule watering times based on current conditions and any watering restrictions in your area. Do not just set the timer and forget it. Water needs for plants in May will be much different than in the heat of July.
• Plan on resetting the timer as days get warmer.
• Set watering times based on the type of sprinkler heads in each area of the sprinkler system. Rotor heads that send a stream of water from side to side should water no more than 20 minutes to avoid run-off. Pop-up heads or spray heads that spray continuously in one area should run about 8 to 10 minutes at a time.
• If you need to water longer in some areas, use the cycle and soak method: Set the schedule so that sprinklers run the cycle once, allow time for water to soak in, and schedule another cycle of watering a little later.
Need a more user-friendly approach to scheduling watering times?
• Upgrade your timer to a SMART controller or ET controller. These scheduling devices are based on the latest technology and rely on real weather data that tell the sprinklers when to run and for how long.
• Other water-saving technologies can keep sprinklers from running in the rain and cut water use in other ways.
• Consumer tip: Water providers and municipalities often offer rebates for these upgrades, so check out your local options.
Becky Garber is 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.