By the middle of the growing season, days are still hot and our sprinklers may be wearing down. It’s time for a tune-up to make sure they are not wasting water by being broken, clogged or out of adjustment.
With a lot of watering days still ahead, some simple fixes for the sprinklers will keep plants thriving and avoid wasting water.
When we see a brown spot in the lawn, our first response is to turn up the watering times. But nine times out of 10, a dry spot is because the sprinkler system needs a tune-up. If the water isn’t hitting the lawn, then watering longer won’t help the dry spot. Wait to re-set watering times until after you’ve solved other problems.
First, find why an area is dry. Is a tree blocking the water? As trees get bigger, they can block the spray. And bigger trees may be drinking up a lot of the water if they’re in the lawn. Pay attention to what’s going on in your yard. Then look at the sprinkler heads themselves.
Now that the sprinklers have been operating all summer, it’s likely some of them are out of adjustment. Turn the system on during the day – watch it run – and re-adjust the direction the water is spraying to make sure it is aimed at plants and not the sidewalk.
Replace any broken sprinklers – and check the nozzles. They are the smallest part of your sprinkler system, and if they are clogged or broken, your sprinkler system will be inefficient. Nozzles can collect debris, so they need to be cleaned occasionally. You can tell by watching the water come out of the nozzles if they are clogged.
Also know how the two basic types of heads are different and require different watering times. The heads that go back and forth across the lawn and water a wide area are called rotors. They only deliver about ½” of water in an hour because they’re oscillating. The other type, spray heads water one area continuously and release about 1½” of water per hour. Because they water differently, they should not be watering the same amount of time.
If you increase watering times, watering too long creates run-off down the gutter. Split up watering times so you water half the total time at once. Let the water soak in – and water again a little later. Set spray heads for shorter watering times because they deliver more water to an area all at once.
\When days begin to cool, reduce all watering times. Over-watered lawns are more prone to have diseases.
Information courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, sponsors of the 9NEWS Water Wise Garden and the 9NEWS Kitchen Garden.