As we head into the warmer months, you’ll want to make sure your irrigation system is ready for another season of efficient lawn and garden watering. A few simple steps will go a long way toward saving your water and money, as well as prevent a mid-summer landscape catastrophe. Get the warm season off to a great start with our tips below:
Test it out
Systems will need to be tested before you leave them to run solo. Each irrigation system is different, from time-controlled (preferred system) to manual.
Most systems have a test cycle that will allow you to run a test cycle of all stations. Run a test to ensure all heads in each zone are working properly. Most issues are very minor, assuming your system was in proper working order during the previous season.
When you test your irrigation system, be sure each head is reaching, or throwing, the proper areas. You don’t want any dead spots, so be sure the water reaches every corner and middle section.
On occasion the root system of the grass can be strong enough to prevent a head from rising, but this can be fixed with a little hand scratching over the top of the sprinkler head. If you find a clogged head, remove it to clear out the debris. Older systems will require a little more TLC, such as head replacements or head extensions. While you run this test, check to make sure tree and shrub roots are clear of the heads.
Computer controlled systems should have their back up battery replaced every year. Without a battery backed up system you run the risk of losing any presets you’ve programmed should a power outage occur.
Your watering should be calculated based on the soil type and general climate. Keep in mind that water is for the roots—the deeper the roots the happier the grass. Deep roots keep cool and moist on hot days, which is more forgiving if you forget to run your manual system.
That being said, water should reach at least 6 inches underneath the ground surface (how long you water should be based on this). A simple shovel test can tell you how deep your water reaches underground.
- How often you water is dependent on the type of soil in your yard:
Sandy soil (well-draining soil) requires watering roughly three days per week
- Soil with clay can thrive on as little as one watering per week
- It’s important to remember that overwatering can be as bad as underwatering—leading to disease and root rot
The number one rule to follow when watering? Water in the morning! 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. is the best timeframe for watering. Watering at night invites disease and rot into your roots, and watering during the heat of the day can burn your grass; not to mention day watering is inefficient because of heavy water evaporation.
Do you have any other tips or rules of thumb for your irrigation system and watering? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!