Spring Spruce Up

Starting the sprinkler system

WaterSense sprinkler spruce up infographicIt is important not to start up the sprinkler system until the threat of freezing temperatures has passed. For Colorado, this is typically mid to late May.

Turning on the irrigation system requires drain caps to be replaced, valves to be opened and connections to be adjusted. Using a licensed irrigation contractor may be warranted.

  • Inspect for breaks and leaks
    Walk the system and look for broken or misaligned sprinkler heads. When replacing, ensure the heads within the zone have matching equipment (the same type, reach and pressure.)
  • Connect sprinklers, pipes and valves 
    Leaks can occur at the joints between sprinklers and the pipe. Leaking joints can also be a sign of too much pressure. Check that your pressure regulator is installed properly. Check connections in the valve boxes and that connections are secure. If the valves are not able to close completely, your system could slowly seep water even when it is turned off.
  • Direct sprinklers for best water coverage.  
    Ensure head-to-head coverage and that sprinklers are not creating overspray or are obstructed by plant or landscape materials. Check that drip emitters are unclogged and moved to be in the root zone of the plant which typically matches the canopy of the plant.
  • Select a WaterSense® labeled irrigation controller. 
    WaterSense® labeled products are designed to use less water than traditional models. Smart irrigation controllers use local weather data or soil moisture and adjust irrigation levels accordingly. Program your controller for the every-third-day watering schedule
  • Check the rain sensor
    Ensure rain sensors are positioned correctly and are not on bypass on the controller. Rain sensors, which are required in Castle Rock, should be replaced approximately every 3 to 5 years.

Plant health

  • Time to prune
    Prune trees and shrubs as necessary and remove dead and damaged material. Prune perennials as necessary.
  • Fertilize as needed
    As prescribed by the plant needs, lawns, trees, shrubs and perennials can benefit from a small dose of slow-release fertilizer. Don’t overfertilize as this can cause damage to plants and excess fertilizer can create harmful algae blooms in nearby streams.
  • Weed
    Control weeding early in the season. Apply an herbicide to lawns (be careful not to apply too much and prevent any runoff.)
  • Apply mulch
    Planting beds should have 4 inches of wood mulch or 2 inches of rock mulch. Be sure not to let mulch touch the tree trunk.
  • Clean up debris
    Rake up old leaves, branches and debris and dispose of them in the trash or add to a compost bin. Do not allow this material to flow into the stormdrain.
  • Start the mower
    Add fresh gasoline to the mower and give the lawn a fresh cut.
  • New plantings
    Wait until after the last frost, mid to late May, to plant. Add, replace or reposition drip emitters, as necessary.
  • Irrigate according to weather
    Unless the winter has been exceptionally dry and warm, supplemental irrigation is not necessary until late May/early June. Begin watering only periodically and ramp up to every third day in late June as weather warms.