Spring Irrigation System Start Ups
Most homeowners will turn off their irrigation systems for the winter but many things can happen between when they are turned off and when it’s time to fire them back on in the spring. Cuts in drip tubing from winter pruning, broken sprinklers or clogged heads, rodent or animal damage, or debris in the lines and filters are all common issues that can wreak havoc if unchecked before the need to irrigate returns. Calling landscape irrigation specialists in Sonoma County to help will help you make this transition with ease.
Why Turn Off Irrigation In the Winter?
As days grow shorter and cooler, plants go into dormancy, and our short rainy season begins, the need to irrigate ends. Usually once we’ve had 2-3 good storms dropping 6” of rain in total it is safe to turn off your irrigation system however exactly when should be determined on a year by year basis. As water is a limited resource in our region it’s important to turn off the water when it’s no longer needed and allow our water sources to recharge. Additionally watering when the soil is already wet from rain can cause plants to decline in health as too much water is bad for their health.
Cleaning and Servicing Irrigation Valves
Irrigation valves can be complicated devices and it’s best to call a company offering landscape and irrigation services near you in Sonoma County who will be able to navigate your irrigation hardware and avoid damaging the system. They should thoroughly check and flush each valve by disassembling it, cleaning the diaphragm and valve housing, and adjusting the flow control. Once reassembled it should always be tested from the irrigation controller to ensure it turns on/off properly.
If you have filters for drip lines or well water it is critical that they are disassembled, thoroughly cleaned or replaced if necessary, and reassembled. This ensures you will have proper flow through your system and that your emitters and sprinklers are putting out the correct amount of water.
Sprinklers – What Should You Be Looking For?
Very often sprinklers are knocked out of place or nozzles become clogged during the growing season. Either a mower runs over them, they are bumped into while horticultural maintenance is being completed, or some other factor. If a sprinkler is tilted too much it will no longer cover the intended area. Turn on every sprinkler and inspect it for tilt and check to be sure the nozzles are not clogged. If it needs to be straightened or nozzles need cleaning/replacement, then you should call a company offering landscaping services in Sonoma County to reset the sprinkler in the correct position and clean any clogged nozzles.
Once the inspection is complete it’s critical to check the spray patterns of the sprinklers in your landscape. Sometimes they turn slightly as they pop up and down and even if you set them to the correct position last year doesn’t guarantee that they remained that way the whole year. If the nozzle turns every time the sprinkler pops up and down it is time for replacement.
Inspecting Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation uses small emitters to apply water slowly which is very efficient. Unfortunately these emitters can easily become clogged, especially with well water which tends to have more minerals and debris than city water. Regardless, it’s important to inspect the emitters each year before turning your system on. All too often homeowners assume everything is working and then a handful of plants are looking sad or worse die, and it’s because they aren’t getting the water that the homeowner assumed they were getting.
Sometimes roots or debris will get into the drip tubing and clog the lines, no leak will be visible so people will assume everything is ok. Unless you inspect every emitter you won’t notice these areas where blockage might have occurred. Look for sections of emitters with no water coming out, if part of your system is applying water properly but the other part isn’t, chances are you have a clog! Sonoma County landscaping companies such as Inspired Landscapes are quickly able to identify these issues and make repairs that will ensure your landscape thrives into the warmer months.
Programming Your Irrigation Controller
Even though spring brings with it the need to irrigate, proper irrigation controller programming is really important to protect the health of your plants. Most systems will need to be turned on in April but the days are still short and temperatures aren’t very high, so watering like its the peak of summer simply isn’t necessary. Help conserve water and lower your bill by seasonally adjusting your irrigation programming, it’s best to make adjustments at least once per month. Start off with just a day or two, and increase to 2-4 days in the peak of summer depending on plants needs.
Even better, upgrade to a weather-based smart irrigation controller that connects to local weather stations and automatically adjusts your irrigation based on current weather data. These controllers are proven to save homeowners quite a bit of money on their water bill while also contributing to water conservation efforts as well as applying the correct amount of water to plants when they need it most resulting in healthy and vibrant landscapes. These controllers require a professional for installation, so calling Sonoma County landscape contractors would be a great first step in making this upgrade to your property!
Managing an irrigation system can seem overwhelming to many homeowners and we’re here to help. Inspired Landscapes holds a range of water management certifications including CLCA Water Manger, and EPA WaterSense Qualified Water Efficient Landscapers Reach out to us for a consultation or to arrange one of our irrigation technicians to make a site visit today!