Maintaining your irrigation system
Automatic irrigation systems need regular maintenance to keep them working efficiently and effectively each year.
Maintaining your irrigation system will reduce wasted water and over-watering. It will also improve plant health, keeping your yard healthy and beautiful.
Wasted water costs more money and can result in the shortening of your plants’ root systems (trees, shrubs and grasses) making them less resilient to dry conditions.
Start fresh in the spring
A. Turn on your timer/controller before operating the system for the first time. Check the battery and wiring for any loose connections.
B. Test your backflow device each year. This must be done by a certified cross connection tester.
C. Open your outdoor water valve located in either the mechanical room, furnace room or outside, as well as your master valve for the irrigation system.
D. Check for leaks or damage to the system and have them repaired by a professional.
E. Make sure the controller is scheduled for the current weather conditions. Check your controller instruction manual to ensure you are making the right schedule modifications for your equipment.
Consider using a ‘cycle and soak’ schedule to allow for maximum water absorption and minimum run off. Instead of running the system for one long time, set up the controller to operate the system at two shorter start times (cycle), with a 30 minute break (soak) between.
This allows the water to penetrate deeper into the root zone of the plant, creating stronger, healthier grass, that doesn’t need to be watered as often, and reduces runoff created by applying too much water at a single time.
Inspect your system monthly
Look for leaks, broken or clogged sprinkler heads and any other problems that can occur while the system is in use.
Look for indications of a leak. Look for an unexplained increase in your water bill, poor system performance, dry spots, soggy spots, overgrown areas of turf or an unexplained hissing sound.
Inspect the system for broken or clogged sprinklers and other damaged components.
Check your controller and change the schedule to reflect the needs of the landscape as the weather changes throughout the season.
If you adapt your watering schedule to the season and weather conditions, you will see water savings during times when watering is not needed.
Track your water use. Compare your average monthly water use over the winter months, to the months you are using water outdoors in the summer. The difference between summer and winter consumption is the volume of water that you are using outdoors. To compare to the previous year, look at past bills, or at the historical water use graph at the top of your water bill to get a year-over-year comparison.
Check sprinklers and sprinkler heads for maximum efficiency
Always make sure that manual sprinklers and sprinkler heads (with automatic irrigation systems) are watering the landscape and not hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks.
Regularly check automatic systems to make sure sprinkler heads pop up correctly, spray evenly, and are free from damage or clogging or blocking vegetation.
Reduce run off by watering low and slow
Keep the manual sprinkler height low and water pressure low to avoid misting.
Soil can only absorb so much water at once, so keeping the water low, and applying it slowly, allows water time to get into the soil and root zone rather than just applying water to the surface.
Know how to manually shut-off your irrigation system for windy or rainy days.
Water early in the morning between 3 a.m. to 7 a.m.
This will reduce water lost to evaporation during the heat of the day and when there is more wind.
Winterize your system in the fall
Turn off your outdoor water supply and controller, and ensure lines and low spots are empty of water.
This article was first published at: https://www.calgary.ca/UEP/Water/Pages/Water-conservation/Lawn-and-garden/Irrigation-systems/Efficient-Irrigation.aspx