Sprinkler Maintenance

Much like the regular maintenance of a home or car, proper sprinkler maintenance will help the system perform at its peak efficiency. Depending on the configuration of your system, there may be additional things for you to consider when looking at efficiency. Turn on your system regularly and make sure it is operating correctly. Check for proper coverage, adjust as needed to eliminate over spray and repair / replace damaged heads, pipes, fittings, etc. 

The steps below cover the basics.

Start with a solid design

Do not mix rotors (gear-drive or multi-stream) and fixed spray heads on the same zone. These heads apply water at very different rates and they do not play well together. Fixed spray heads apply water much faster than rotors and therefore will need less time on the clock. Fixed spray heads will also run off much faster and tend to be more susceptible to wind drift.

Adjust all heads to cover the intended area

Spray head nozzles are more susceptible to clogging. Drip emitters and distribution tubing tend to be more delicate, and may need more spring time maintenance than traditional sprays or rotors. Clogged or missing emitters will need to be replaced.

Spring start-up of the sprinkler system is critical

Even though the system was properly winterized, it does not guarantee a trouble-free start-up in the spring. Be sure to check for leaks, cracks or other defects in the system.

Following spring activation, turn on all zones 

Winter rodents, like voles, rabbits and mice, can and will chew on the wires inside the valve boxes. Any valves not operating correctly will need to be diagnosed and repaired. Snow shoveling and changes in soil moisture can also cause damage to sprinkler heads. Inspect every head while running each zone.

Head-to-head coverage is important

Place heads using square or triangle patterns whenever possible. This is referred to as head-to-head coverage. I
f the nozzle is designed to cover a 15-foot radius, pull the spacing in a bit and install the heads 13 to 14 feet apart. Doing this will allow for variations in water pressure and wind drift.

Check how many gallons per minute are available at your site

You can quickly determine gallons per minute by seeing how long it takes to fill a five gallon bucket from your outside faucet. Design your system below this threshold leaving room for variations in system availability and indoor water use. Keep in mind, if you have 12 gallons per minute available, you do not want to create zones that require more than 12 gallons per minute. Any indoor use will negatively affect sprinkler performance.

Adjust the timer at least monthly

Water less often in the spring and fall. Typically, one to two days per week is adequate. During the restriction period, typically May through September, watering more than every-third-day is not necessary. Learn more about watering restrictions. For a more automated approach, Castle Rock Water offers rebates. Consider replacing your traditional timer with a smart controller

Turn off the system when it rains

Or, install a rain or moisture sensor so you don’t have to turn the system on and off manually. 
This can be automated by using a soil moisture or rain sensor.

How long should I run each zone?

In order to fill the root zone, water deeply and less often. Once sprinklers are properly adjusted, watch and time until you see water collecting or running off. When setting your controller, ensure each zone shuts off / stops before runoff occurs. Steeper slopes, heavy clay soil and traditional spray nozzles will require multiple short cycles to avoid runoff. If you need more water to keep the grass healthy, add another start time. Do not add more minutes, as this will only lead to runoff.