Spring is here and it’s that time of year when you replenish, refresh and rejuvenate. That can mean giving new life to your garden and lawn by having the irrigation system to hydrate your soil and replenish your plants so they can look lush and beautiful. After all, flowers, grass and trees need a combination of water and sunshine to flourish. Spring is the time when you want colors to brighten the environment, and blooming flowers and vibrant lawns can make spring come to life. So, how do you get your irrigation system ready for spring?
Dewinterize Your Sprinkler System First
In the winter, when you shut down the sprinkler system, you essentially put the system in hibernation until the next season. Underground sprinkler systems are often operated on an automated setting, a seemingly effortless process. However, preparing an underground sprinkler system for winter can be challenging to do well, just as much as it can be to reopen the system. One thing that you always want to avoid is hitting the sprinkler heads when you cut the lawn, which is perhaps the easy part of the maintenance process. Spring dewinterization of your sprinkler system can take upwards of two hours, although property size, sprinkler heads and the state of the sprinkler system.
How to Get Your Irrigation System Ready
Check if the Ground is Frozen
Is winter conditions really over on the ground? You will have to check to see if the ground is still frozen. To check, dig roughly one foot into the soil using a shovel into the soil and if your shovel hits frozen ground, it’s best to wait a couple of weeks before performing another dig test. It is unwise to start your sprinkler system if the ground remains frozen; this could cause a breakage of the water lines while the sprinkler system is being fired up, or some time later when the still cold ground freezes the water and causes the water line to break. If you must water your lawn, use a good old hose to do the job and do not risk permanent damage to your irrigation system.
Fire Up Your Control Panel
The control panel works like the brain of our sprinkler system and this is where dewinterization gets a jump start. Commonly installed outdoors, you will want to start up the control panel and check out the actual settings for features like date, scheduling and irrigation zones. Check to see if you need to replace the battery if older than six months. It may be possible to find your sprinkler system’s original documentation online using the panel’s model number if you don’t have it on hand.
Clean Sprinkler Heads
You will need to inspect and clean your sprinkler heads and valves, which can be a time consuming process, especially if your lawn is large. At each sprinkler head assembly, inspect for damages, and if present on the nozzle, get it replaced. If extensive damage exists to the entire sprinkler head assembly, the best solution may be to get professional help to do the repairs. If the damage is minimal, perform a thorough cleaning of the nozzle using an old toothbrush. You want your sprinkler’s spray pattern to be normal so it waters the lawn evenly. You want to keep the sprinkler valve that is farthest from the main water source open and remove the sprinkler nozzle to enable the release of air when the water is turned on. Remove the nozzle of the last sprinkler on each branch line and open the valve if your irrigation system has multiple branches that feed off a main line.
Open the Main Valve to Start Your Sprinkler System
Gradually open the main water valve, being mindful not to be quick in doing so, which could push water and air through the system too fast. This could cause the “water hammer” effect, which can result in crack pipes, valve breakage and damage to the sprinkler heads that could get knocked off their position entirely. Begin opening the main valve slowly and listen for the water flow, then allow the water to feed into the main pipe. Every couple of minutes, open the valve wider by a few degrees until it’s completely open. If you have a system with multiple branch lines, you will need to repeat the process at each line’s main valve after the main line is filled with water. Assess the faraway sprinkler valves after that process is completed and ensure that dirt and debris buildup in the line is pushed out. Close the valve once the water clears up, remembering to refasten the nozzle.
Assess the Irrigation Zones
At this stage, your sprinkler system is set for its first spring watering. Make any adjustments to the sprinkler nozzles, if necessary, and check the irrigation of all your zones, one after the other, looking for even spray patterns. You want to ensure that your lawn is adequately watered. When the irrigation system is started, check for malfunctioning sprinkler heads, low water pressure and soggy spots. This is when you’ll identify if you have a line breakage, which would require you to shut off the main valve until repair is completed. Complete a final walk-through inspection of each zone when your irrigation system is fully activated. If all is as it should be, your irrigation system is ready for spring.
For all your irrigation needs, Berardi Irrigation has a team of skilled professionals that can help you to get your irrigation system ready for spring. We offer reliable service that you can always depend on. With us, your lawn or garden will be in tip-top shape this spring.