We tend to take our irrigation systems for granted, setting them up and forgetting about them. Ideally, irrigation systems should be inspected by a certified irrigation professional once a year. The underground pipes and delivery systems can be complicated. Oftentimes, irrigation is set to run after we have left for work. We could have a problem and not even know it. March is a great time for a basic homeowner irrigation check.
Basic Irrigation Checklist
1. Check to see if the system is set to run at the appropriate time. The 2010 Outdoor Water Use Guidelines allow automatic irrigation systems to run between 4 PM and 10 AM. Ideally, for turfgrass the system should run between 5 AM and 9 AM. This mimics dew time and allows the turfgrass to dry off before the heat of the day. It is also the best time to minimize water evaporation.
2. Turn the system on. Is there adequate overlap of water? Notice any dry spots. You may need to adjust sprinkler heads to achieve equal coverage.
3. Check sprinkler heads. Are they all working? Sprinkler heads are easily damaged by lawn mowers. These may need to be replaced.
4. If something is obviously clogged it may be the sprinkler head nozzle or the sprinkler head filter. Sprinkler head nozzles may become clogged with soil or cut grass. To run efficiently, these will need to be cleaned. Inside most sprinkler heads is a filter. Over time this filter may become clogged, especially if the system runs on well water. Filters can be cleaned with compressed air or replaced.
5. Notice the pop-up sprinkler heads. Are they popping up? Are they high enough? Over time the ground may have settled and the heads may not be at the correct level for effective watering.