Easy Sprinkler Maintenance Tips

Did you know that most lawns require 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week? Because rainfall is too unpredictable and infrequent, you shouldn’t rely solely on it as a watering system for your lawn. Luckily, sprinklers help pick up some of the slack.

 Your lawn or garden relies on its sprinkler system to ensure proper growth. Lawn sprinklers water sod, seed, or any sized mature lawn, while garden sprinklers provide a gentler watering for delicate plantings, such as flowers or vegetables.

 Many towns, however, have municipalities with strict rules and regulations for water usage. For this reason (and for the sake of overall water conservation)!, it is important to make the most of the water that you are using for your lawn or garden. To do this, you should depend on the appropriate sprinkler for your grass.

Know What Sprinkler to Use

Hose-End Sprinkler

If you have a smaller sized lawn, try a hose-end sprinkler. This type of sprinkler waters your lawn in a rectangular pattern and is a great way to avoid over-watering. This is key when you are dealing with a smaller sized lawn. (TIP: If you are using a manual sprinkler system, don’t forget to shut it off! It’s easier to forget than you’d think. Sometimes a kitchen timer or an alarm on your phone helps.)

In-Ground Sprinkler

By designing an in-ground sprinkler system, you are able to deliver water in the most efficient way possible. To distribute water evenly, try using low-angle sprinkler heads at a low volume. Delivering water as close to the ground as possible will yield the best results, and keep the water pressure high in order to avoid mist. (TIP: Remember, evaporation = water lost. Minimize evaporation to maximize your water usage.)

Irrigation Timers

Try using smart timers! These timers base their watering on factors, such as air temperatures, rainfall, and the rate at which your grass is absorbing the water. (TIP: If you are not using a smart timer, try to set your irrigation timer to turn on during a time of the day (not night)! When water is not being used frequently. This typically tends to be right before dawn.

Rotary Nozzles (also called Stream Sprays)

These provide slow, deliberate watering. (TIP: Watering deeper and less frequently is best. This helps your grass to grow deep roots. The deeper the roots, the healthier your lawn will be, and it will require less maintenance.)

 Know When to Water

No matter what type of sprinkler system you use, be mindful of over-watering and under-watering. Adjust your watering system cycles based on the type of soil that your grass is growing in. Soil with clay in it calls for repetitive, shorter watering cycles. This adjustment will prevent puddling, which clay-like soil is extremely susceptible to because of its inability to absorb water quickly.

How often you should water your lawn depends on a number of things. Soil type, sunlight, climate, grass type, etc., are all variables that can determine the proper frequency for watering. Stay in tune with the amount of water being exerted by your sprinkler system by following the steps of this easy maintenance trick:

  1. Distribute five or six (or more, depending on how large your lawn is) small, empty containers throughout the span of your sprinkler system. The containers should be straight-sided and even, much like a small tin or a tuna fish can.
  2. Allow the sprinkler system to run for about 20 minutes.
  3. Find the average amount of water in the containers by measuring each one, then dividing that total by the number of containers you used.
  4. Once you have your average, multiply it by three to determine how much water your lawn gets over the course of an hour. (20 minutes + 20 minutes + 20 minutes = 1 hour).
  5. Using this newfound knowledge, adjust your sprinkler setting’s watering times accordingly.

This test should be performed about two times per season; once at the beginning of the season and once halfway through the season. (TIP: Don’t forget to keep those sprinklers running through the Fall! So, test twice during the Spring, twice during the Summer, and twice during the Fall to ensure the best results.)

Know Your Sprinkler Head

Has the water from your sprinkler been coming out unevenly lately? Is the water being exerted improperly and inefficiently? Chances are your sprinkler head is clogged. Much like pores on your face, the holes in a sprinkler head can get clogged. Water should come out of the sprinkler head’s holes in evenly distributed patterns, no matter what type of sprinkler system you use. If it is not being evenly distributed, turn the water off and check the sprinkler heads. TIP: Any source of stiff wire can be used to unclog a sprinkler head. Paperclips tend to work best, as they’re thin yet sturdy. Carefully insert the wire into each hole of the sprinkler head to eliminate any residue or build up that may be clogging your sprinkler. DO NOT turn up the water pressure in an attempt to blast out the debris that’s clogging your sprinkler head.

Know Your Landscape Design

Should you choose to change or adjust your landscaping, include your sprinkler heads! Your sprinkler heads should depend on your landscape design. Only grass needs to be watered by your sprinkler system. Adding mulch, rocks, sand, gravel, pavement, or anything else to your landscape design affects your sprinkler system’s layout! It is worth it to take the time and energy to restructure your sprinkler head layout if changes are made. This way, you can be sure that you aren’t wasting water by watering anything other than grass. TIP: Your sprinkler system should be the last piece to the puzzle when deciding your landscaping. Because it is so heavily dependent on its surroundings, wait until all other aspects are finalized to minimize your chances of having to rearrange your sprinkler system layout later on.

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