It’s Time to Check Out the Sprinklers

Most of us run our sprinkler system overnight, so we never really see whether the system is operating properly or not.

With temps about to hit the 90-degree range, it’s a smart move to turn on the sprinklers for a quick run-through to look for problems.  If you splash through them in the process, that’s cool, too.

When a sprinkler is watering the street instead of the lawn, there will soon be a brown spot in the grass to show where the water is missing its mark.  Ditto for other problems like a sprinkler that’s missing altogether or one that is clogged.  These problems are quick and simple fixes.  If they are not addressed, the grass is sure to suffer – and even faster in a heat wave.

Signs of deeper trouble
Since almost all of the sprinkler system is underground, some problems take a closer look.  Here are a couple of them:

  • Mushy areas in the lawn.  A very soggy area may be due to a break in the sprinkler pipe.  Go to the timer and stop watering that section of the sprinkler system until you can rule out a break or repair the broken pipe.
  • Very dry grass and/or part of the sprinkler system won’t run. This can indicate an underground electrical problem.  Some diagnostic work will be required and you will probably need to call a pro.
  • Drag out the hose, connect a sprinkler and manually water these problem areas until the system is repaired.

Check out the timer – the device that tells your sprinklers when to operate.  If the timer doesn’t work properly, your sprinkler system won’t either.

  • Make sure the timer is plugged in and replace the battery so you don’t lose your schedule from a power outage.
  • Set the timer to run sprinklers based on the kinds of sprinkler heads in each area of your yard.
  • Rotor heads (that shoot water back and forth across the lawn) should run no more than about 20 minutes per cycle.
  • Pop-up heads that spray continually over one area, should never run more than 8-10 minutes per cycle.  Longer run times will cause water to run off the lawn and that’s literally money down the drain.
  • If the lawn needs more water, schedule a break in the watering and later, have the cycle start over again so the water from the first cycle has time to soak in.

Other tips to help the lawn survive a heat wave

  • Wait to fertilize the lawn until temps cool      down.
  • Avoid cutting off more than one-third of the height of the      grass at one time and raise the height of the mower if you need      to.
  • Cut the lawn to a height of about 3      inches.  Cutting too short adds to heat stress – while longer blades      provide shade over the soil that helps it retain moisture.  Mulching      grass clippings and leaving them on top of the lawn will also help keep      the grass cool.
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