Summertime is a chance for properties in the Twin Cities area to highlight their beautiful lawns, which are hidden during the winter months under mounds of snow. It also provides property owners with an opportunity to check on irrigation systems to make sure they are functioning properly, correct any issues, and take preventative measures to make sure systems continue working. Below we review some things to keep in mind as you perform your inspections.
Assess Problem Areas
There are typically three sources where problems will arise when it comes to irrigation systems: valve boxes, lateral lines, and sprinkler heads. Start off your inspection by checking all sprinkler valve boxes to make sure they are free of any leaking or damaged components. Then take stock of all sprinkler heads to note any issues. Below we’ll review specific problems to look for.
Damage to lateral lines—those pipes that run underground throughout a lawn, connecting sprinklers—are the trickiest to assess. You’ll mainly want to keep an eye out for any areas of turf that become flooded by a source other than sprinkler heads (so basically, water coming up from under the surface). Also keep an eye on water meters. A spike in usage that can’t be explained by anything else might point to an underground irrigation leak. It goes without saying that the sooner you catch a problem and address it, the better.
Take Stock of Sprinkler Heads
When examining sprinkler heads, here are specific issues to keep an eye out for:
Broken Nozzle Heads: Regularly inspect your entire irrigation system for any broken sprinkler heads. A damaged nozzle can waste more than four gallons of water per minute, so quick replacement is imperative.
Tilted, Misaligned, and Sunken Nozzle Heads: Sprinkler heads can take a beating from regular lawn maintenance, foot traffic, and the natural compaction of soil over time. Regular checks can help you ensure that these issues are corrected in a timely manner, helping you to avoid uneven water distribution. Fix nozzle heads by straightening out those that are tilter or misaligned. For those that are sunken, you may need to remove a bit of the sod surrounding the sprinkler head so that it can be returned to the proper height. Once this has been tackled, sod can be replaced, if necessary. Do a final check to ensure that water spray has returned to the appropriate area. (Remember: sidewalks, streets, and fencing do not need watering.)
Clogged Nozzles: Sometimes debris can work its way into nozzles, causing them to become clogged. A clogged nozzle will result in uneven spray, leading to dry patches. To remedy, turn your entire system off and unscrew nozzle heads to clean out the filters. Do a check to make sure that spray has returned to normal.
Blocked Nozzles: Over time—especially during the summer months—shrubbery can mature and extend over sprinkler heads. When this happens, there is the potential for “rainshadow” to occur. Keep shrubbery pruned back to prevent it from obstructing the spray from any nozzle heads. Also check to make sure any overgrown turf is removed from over the sprinkler head, preventing it from popping up and watering an area.
Additional Irrigation Issues
Water pressure: It’s important to make sure the water pressure is appropriate for your irrigation system and lawn. When pressure is too high, water can evaporate quickly and not saturate turf properly. It can also wear out sprinkler heads more quickly, leading to unnecessary expenses. Too low water pressure can cause heads to not pop up completely, also resulting in grass that is not receiving enough water. Low water pressure, whether it be in one area or all over, can also signal an underground leak. If you notice a drop in pressure, keep an eye out for other signs of trouble.
Run-off: If you notice any sidewalk or street areas with excessive water coverage after a sprinkler cycle runs, you may have a run-off problem. This occurs when turf areas are quickly saturated and water cannot soak into soil quickly enough. Check your system to see if it has a cycle setting that reduces the amount of time sprinklers remain on. It may mean that sprinklers will run more than once during a cycle, but the period of time will be short enough that oversaturation shouldn’t be an issue.
Avoid watering when it’s raining: In addition to heavy snowfalls in the winter, the Minnesota area also receives a substantial amount of precipitation during the summer months. During any periods of heavy rainfall, lawns can easily become oversaturated, rendering any sprinkler cycles unnecessary. It may be worth installing a rain sensor to help you avoid watering when it’s not needed. This will help you keep water usage down and your lawns in good shape.
Superior Lawn Maintenance Year-Round
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