A large part of maintaining a healthy lawn is proper watering. Your lawn needs between 1 and 1 ½ inches of water each week from April through November.
To ensure proper watering, many homeowners install irrigation systems. A properly installed and maintained irrigation system can greatly simplify proper watering and often results in not only a healthier lawn but also water savings!
Here are some tips for maintaining your existing irrigation system:
SPRINKLER HEAD ADJUSTMENT
Sprinkler heads are a key component of any irrigation system. They are responsible for broadcasting the water to the turf. It is very important when starting the irrigation system for the first time each spring to check all heads for proper position and function. Make sure there are no gaps in coverage between irrigation heads, as this can cause dry spots which in turn will harm your turf.
Also watch for heads that spray beyond the intended target onto paved areas or other places where the water simply runs off or is otherwise wasted.
DETERMINING ZONE RUN TIMES
For healthy Fescue and bluegrass turf, deep and infrequent watering maintains a healthy root system and reduces weed infestations. Applying 1 – 1.5 inches of water per week is often difficult to achieve in a single watering. Therefore, smaller amounts of water applied every other day, no more than 2-3 days a week, is recommended to allow water to soak into the soil without causing runoff.
Determining the number of minutes to run each zone is easy. The process simply involves placing flat bottom containers (such as a tuna can) out in the lawn, running your system, and determining how long it takes to collect one half inch. This will then provide you with the ideal run time for that zone.
These should all catch the same amount, indicating even watering coverage. Watering ½ to ¾ of an inch, 2-3 times per week, is generally sufficient. In times of excessive drought, higher amounts of water may be needed to keep fescue or bluegrass from going dormant. Do not water every day as this causes turf grass plants to have a shallow root system. A good schedule would be Monday and Thursday for a 2-day schedule, or Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a 3-day schedule. Water between the hours of 4 AM – 7 AM when evaporation loss is lowest and temperatures are the coolest.
Always check to make sure all the water heads are spraying. If they are clogged or damaged, this can cause drought stress to your lawn and cost you money. Furthermore, make sure nothing is blocking the area that should be receiving water. A blockage of any kind can be damaging.
The best thing to remember when it comes to sprinkler system maintenance, is to regularly inspect your system and correct any problems that you find. Notice what is happening with your lawn and question if it could be your system. See a dry spot? This often proves to be irrigation heads haven’t been doing their job.