Tips for turning on the sprinkler system

6:46 PM, May 18, 2012   |    comments
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Since most people run their sprinklers early in the morning before they get up, they rarely see the sprinklers running and won't know about the problems. At the start of the watering season, it's a good idea to turn on the water and look for problems. Everything you fix now will save water all season long.

Start by turning on the water looking at each one of the sprinklers.

• Make sure they are moving correctly and aimed at the grass-not the street.
• Next look for geysers that are shooting water straight up in the air. That usually indicates that the sprinkler head or the nozzle is missing.
• Finally, look for nozzles that might be clogged. Unplugging nozzles is a quick job that has instant results.

How do you know if there are major problems?

• If one area of the system doesn't work at all, that might be an electrical or other problem that will require some troubleshooting.
• Line breaks can also keep an area from watering. If you see the ground start to mound up like a bubble, turn the water off immediately. That could indicate a major break in the sprinkler pipe caused from a winter freeze.
All of these problems will most likely need a trained technician to fix.

Check out the timer and schedule it for watering:

• Replace the battery so that the program is saved if there's a power outage.
• Schedule watering times based on current conditions and any watering restrictions in your area. Do NOT just set the timer and forget it. Water needs for plants in May will be much different that in the heat of July. Plan on re-setting the timer as days get warmer.
• Set watering times based on the type of sprinkler heads in each area of the sprinkler system. Rotor heads that send a stream of water from side to side should water no more than 20 minutes to avoid run-off. Pop-up heads that spray continuously in one area should run about 8 to 10 minutes at a time.
• If you need to water an area longer than these times, use the cycle and soak method: run the cycle once, wait awhile for water to soak in and then set the timer so to water the area again.

Need a more user-friendly approach to scheduling watering times? Consider upgrading your timer to a SMART controller or ET controller. These scheduling devices are based on the latest technology and rely on real weather data to schedule when the sprinkler runs and for how long. Other water-saving technologies can keep sprinklers from running in the rain and cut water use in other ways. Consumer tip: water providers and municipalities often offer rebates for these upgrades, so check out your local options.

Information courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado - sponsors of the 9NEWS Kitchen Garden and the 9NEWS Water Wise Garden. For help with your landscape needs, go to and click on Find a Pro.

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