In South Florida, irrigation is a topic that can’t be ignored. While at some points during the year, it seems we have more water than we want or need; at others, our plants and lawns can become scorched without proper watering. Many Sarasota and Tampa homeowners have opted for an irrigation system to ensure that they stay on top of their property’s irrigation needs.
Irrigation system efficiency is important for your garden, your wallet, and the environment. It is a good idea to check the efficiency of your system every two to three years so that you can catch and fix any issues.
Tips to Keep your Irrigation System Maintained
- Check your sprinkler heads. Sprinklers need to be kept clear of tall grass and other obstructions. Make sure the heads are higher than the grass around them when active–if they’re installed too low or are blocked, they won’t be able to spray uniformly over your lawn. You should also straighten each head, as being bent or crooked will disrupt its spray pattern and leave a portion of your lawn neglected. You should also check each sprinkler head for damage–they can be hit while the lawn is getting mowed, and thus won’t function properly.
- Trim back your plants. Often, shrubs or vines can grow over the sprinkler heads and block the spray. Check the sprinkler heads closest to your garden beds to make sure your plants are staying in their lane, and trim them back or prune if necessary.
- Watch your sprinklers at work. It can be difficult to figure out whether a sprinkler has a clogged nozzle or torn line just by looking at the heads themselves. To spot any issues, turn your sprinkler system on and watch each of the heads as they spray. Note which ones are spraying with low water pressure, which aren’t spraying at all, and which are partially obstructed. Clogs can often be cleared with the end of a paper clip. Broken lines will require a bit more work to access and repair, but getting it fixed saves you money and prevents water from leaking.
- Modify your watering schedule. If your timers are set for the exact same schedule year-round, you’re going to end up not taking proper care of your lawn. The grass will receive more watering than necessary during some parts of the year, and not enough during others. It’s best to keep an eye on the weather and make changes to your sprinkler timers as needed so that your lawn is getting the right amount of water. Additionally, change the time your sprinkler system sprays to early morning–watering your lawn at this time means less water is lost to evaporation and misting. It gives your lawn an effective watering during the cooler time of the day, and will allow excess water to evaporate off the grass blades once the day warms up.
- Upgrade your system. You may decide that you want to upgrade your system even further with drip lines. These relatively new irrigation systems drip water out of pipes or hoses and directly into the soil (unlike traditional sprinkler systems, which shoot the water into the air where it can evaporate or be blown away). This is an excellent way to water your trees, shrubs, and plants. By dripping the water more slowly over a longer period of time, you’re giving the water a chance to soak into the soil instead of pooling and causing runoff that doesn’t even reach your plant’s roots.
There are many ways to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to watering your landscape. Get your irrigation system performing at maximum efficiency so that you’re ready for spring and summer.
Need more lawn and landscaping advice? Browse the Big Earth Landscape Supply blog, or visit one of our area locations.