by Charlene Burgi
Time is running out! With the rainy season winding down, longer daylight hours and rising temperatures, it is about time to turn on our irrigation systems.
Have you given your system a check-up yet by turning it on and walking around while each zone was watering? What did you see? The long winter months could have sent creepy crawly insects in search of refuge inside nozzles or any other dry place they could find. Is the water emitting a uniform spray pattern directed toward the plants you want watered, or is there something preventing the water from dispersing? The December freeze could have cracked unprotected pipes. Are there any streams of water showing up and flowing uncontrolled? There could be a break in the line or a missing nozzle. Is the spray misting the plants? Are all the emitters on your drip system releasing water, or shooting up in the air instead of dripping? If you don’t have a smart controller, is your controller still scheduled to irrigate for maximum summertime water, or have you dialed it back for milder spring weather? If your controller has a battery, when is the last time you changed it?
For maximizing water efficiency, this is the time to complete the spring maintenance of your irrigation system. Replace missing parts; repair leaking pipes; clean out clogged nozzles and emitters; replace the nine-volt battery; direct sprays to the plants instead of hardscapes. If you do not have a shutoff to your irrigation system, have one installed. Install a pressure reducer if you see misting. This equipment gets old and stops functioning well after several years. And last, amend the soil and add mulch. If the irrigated water can penetrate the soil, you will have much happier plants, save water and avoid runoff. Once these chores are completed, you can have peace of mind knowing you are ready for irrigation season to begin.