Sprinklers – The Life Blood of Your Lawn!

Impact_Sprinkler_Mechanism_2.jpg

Welcome back to the Wonderful World of Weed Man!  We are on part 3 of our ‘The Grass IS Greener Over There’ Series.  If this is your first visit, you can catch up on last week’s post, ‘Fertilizer is the BEST Weed Control!’

This week I wanted to discuss Sprinkler Systems!  For most of our local population, gone are the days of dragging hoses around the yard to make certain your lawn is watered.  The automated sprinkler system has greatly improved the quality of life for homeowners and lawns.  When a sprinkler system is maintained and utilized correctly your lawn can really look amazing!  Your sprinkler system really is the lifeblood of your lawn.

If, however, your sprinkler system is not maintained or incorrectly utilized, you may have more work on your hands than when you used to drag a hose around the lawn.  We will talk more about watering practices in a later blog post, but for now it is important to know that your lawn can have a slow death by under watering or even over watering.  In the mean time, there are steps you can take to make sure your sprinkler system is properly maintained.

With irrigation already flowing in some areas of the valley, now is the time you should be thinking about your spring sprinkler startup.  Here are 10 easy steps you can take to make sure you start off the year right and limit your headaches later on in the year.

  1. Check the Soil – Before turning your main line on to your system, you should check to make sure the ground is not frozen at the level your pipes are set.  Lower levels of soil are the last to thaw when spring hits and if you turn water on to frozen pipes you can really have a costly repair on your hands.  Use a shovel and probe about 12 inches down.  If its hard as a rock then you should wait a week, and check again before starting up.
  2. Seal/Close all plugs and drain valves – Watch out for unwanted critters!  Spiders like to hang out in valve boxes – clear out any cobwebs and then close valves/plugs – if you don’t you will have a flood on your hands.  I’ve run into this one before – I forgot to plug my blowout access one year, and I quickly had a valve box fill up before I could shut the water back off.  I then had to wait a bit for the water to settle/drain – prolonging my task at hand.
  3. Open main line SLOWLY  – Once you are ready to supply water to your system you will want to open up your main source of water, but do this slowly.  There can be an immense amount of pressure in the line and introducing it all at once may damage your system and you will have to deal with a  costly repair.  You most likely will need a large metal sprinkler valve key to open this.  Any hardware store should be able to supply this for you if you do not have it already.
  4. Visually Inspect –  Check your main valve box for any leaks or issues – if you find any, shut your main line off and proceed to any repairs or adjustments needed.  If repairs are needed in the main valve box they can be complicated or costly.  Seek out professional help if you are not comfortable with taking care of it yourself.
  5. Manually Test and Adjust Line Valves – Each valve in your manifold should have a method to turn it on manually.  Either a lever, a knob that will turn, or small plastic screw can allow you to turn on/off the valve without the aid of electricity.  Now is a great time to test each line and adjust the pressure from the valve to make certain each line is in working condition.
  6. Power Up the Timer – Now that the main part of your system has water and is working, you can set up your timer to make sure it is ready to go as well.  Each timer is a litter different, so you will need to consult the owners manual for yours.  Make sure it is plugged in/turned on.  If it has a battery backup, now is a good time to replace it.  Battery backups are nice so you don’t lose your timer settings.  Once on, you can now individually check each zone.  One at a time make sure all of them turn on/off.
  7.  Inspect Each Zone/Headsprinkler.jpgWith the control system and main manifold correctly functioning you can move to the individual zones and heads.  Do one zone at a time.  (you might want to do this on a sunny day if you can, because you will be getting soaked)  With the individual zone on, check to make sure every head is operating.  If you have a burst line, you will know right away as it will look like old faithful has made a visit to your lawn.  Barring any pipe busting, you can now focus on unclogging any heads.  Adjusting the direction and reach of head as well. The reach of a head, ideally, will stretch to the adjacent heads around it.  Do the best that you can though – some systems may not have been installed with this in mind.
  8. Check Coverage  – At this point you want to make sure that your entire lawn is getting coverage.  You don’t want to have any surprise dry spots when it warms up.
  9. Adjust the Timer to Match the Season – The watering times for spring are going to be very different than the times for summer.  Spring and Fall watering should be an 30-60 minutes per zone 1-2 times a week.  Summer will require 30-60 minutes per zone 2-3 times per week.  Every lawn is different, every system different – these times are just a good starting point.  Adjust as needed
  10. Test and Re Test –  Now that everything is visibly working, you should do the tuna can test.  Depending on your lawn and where you live and time of year 1-3 inches of water are needed per week to keep your lawn healthy and green.  The best way to test this is with a tuna can.  Tuna cans are about an inch thick and if you place one in your lawn you can see how much water is accumulating in that area each time you water.  It is good to do this periodically throughout the year, especially if you are seeing areas turning brown when it gets really hot!

Following these steps will help get you started off right this year!  If you feel you do not have time or the expertise to go through theses steps, then reach out to a professional.  If you are a Weed Man Customer, we have a sprinkler professional we utilize to help our homeowners.  Sprinkler Startups start at $45! Just give us a call or visit us at weedmanboise.com.

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