Did you know that, according to experts, an estimated 50% of the water we use outdoors through lawn sprinkler systems is wasted by evaporation, wind or runoff due to excess water?
Regarding this surprising statistic, Malarie Gotcher, a water conservation specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Public Utilities, said that “Understanding how your sprinkler system works so that it sprinkles efficiently is key to reducing [this kind of] excessive water use.”
Furthermore, proper irrigation undoubtedly improves your lawn, especially during the summer season. When things get hot, your lawn is prone to suffering considerable and even irreparable damage.
What’s a homeowner to do? The best way to take care of your lawn in the summer is through ensuring that your sprinkler systems are working properly. In fact, it’s just as important as fertilization and weed control. Here are a few sprinkler system maintenance tips that’ll help you get through the season.
5 Tips for Maintaining Your Sprinkler System
With a good irrigation system in place, water from your sprinkler system will permeate your lawn in a more consistent manner that reduces waste and runoff. There are a few things that can cause this kind of unnecessary leakage, however, so here are five tips for proper lawn maintenance as it relates to your irrigation system.
1. Measure the Correct Watering Time
A healthy lawn requires one inch of water per week (and, depending on where you live and what the climate is like, perhaps slightly more during the summer months). In general, an efficient sprinkler system should deliver this amount of water in 15 minutes, but we suggest monitoring your system just to be sure.
To do this, place small containers in different irrigation areas around your lawn and make a mark of 1” on each container. Then, turn on the sprinklers for 15 minutes. At the end of the time, measure how much water is in the containers. If it’s less than one inch, you may need to adjust your system to water slower. If it’s more than one inch, the issue might be a leak in the pipes (which we’ll go over a bit later!).
2. Program Your Sprinkler System Correctly
Depending on the season, your watering schedule should be adjusted. Your lawn doesn’t need the same amount of water in spring as it does in summer. For example, when temperatures drop in the fall, you should readjust your system to water less water or decrease the frequency with which you water.
Also, different parts of your lawn probably have different irrigation needs. If one part of the lawn is in the shade, for example, it requires half the watering that the part that’s in the direct sunlight requires. Adjust your sprinklers based on how much watering each area needs and remember to follow the test suggested above.
3. Perform a Zone Check for Leaks
We suggest frequently inspecting your entire irrigation system for any broken lines and leaks, but most homeowners also often forget to check for any misdirected sprinkler heads that can waste water and money.
If one area of your lawn has puddles and another area is dry, it could indicate a leak or a misplaced sprinkler head. If you notice a broken sprinkler head or a leak in the pipes, use an irrigation cement to help fix the damage.
Now, if your sprinkler heads are aimed at an object blocking the lawn (car, tree, etc.), it will be necessary to re-adjust the direction of the heads to the areas you want to water. While this might seem obvious, it’s actually one of the easiest ways to waste water without realizing it.
4. Install a Rain Sensor
If possible, install a rain or freeze sensor to save more water. When it starts to rain or when the air temperature drops to 32°, this sensor will shut down your irrigation system immediately to avoid wasting water.
5. Get a Professional Audit of the Irrigation System
It is important to have your sprinkler system audited by an expert once or twice during the summer. A certified irrigation contractor should check your system to make sure everything is working properly.
They’ll check for everything we’ve already mentioned along with looking for other issues such as water pressure, the condition of your pipes, and even perhaps the layout of your irrigation system in general.
Sprinkler System Maintenance Made Easy
Proper and constant maintenance of your sprinkler system is crucial in having a lush looking lawn, not only during the summer, but also during any other time of the year. However, performing a thorough inspection of your entire system when the weather begins to get warmer is best due to the sheer amount of wear and tear it’s likely had during the winter.
Follow our sprinkler system maintenance tips above and leave any comments below to let us know how they worked for you or if you’ve tried something else that works.