Spring is undoubtedly the most exciting time of year in the landscape. The full creative energies of Mother Nature are bursting forth, with new blooms and new growth everywhere. And all that lush plant material calls for a lot of water! Which, of course, means you’ll want your irrigation system tuned up and ready to handle the job.
Just as with any other mechanical system, it’s very important to inspect your irrigation system regularly. An irrigation inspection, or irrigation audit, will help you discover and avoid problems such as leaks or broken components that could cause damage to your landscape and/or raise your water bill.
You can inspect your irrigation system yourself, if you feel comfortable doing so and have the time. Otherwise, contact us for a professional irrigation system inspection.
When Should I Schedule My Irrigation Audit?
We recommend scheduling an irrigation inspection twice a year, before starting the system up in the spring and shutting down in fall. The best time to schedule your spring checkup is actually in late winter—January through early March. It’s a slower time of year for landscape companies, so it’s easier to schedule a visit then than later on when the spring rush hits. That way, you’ll be all ready for spring knowing your irrigation system is up to the task.
However, don’t skip your inspection just because the ideal time has already passed. We still have many months of watering ahead of us. The sooner you catch any issues the better!
It’s also a good idea to conduct an irrigation audit in late fall. We recommend shutting the system down for the winter. The only thing needing watering then is winter flowers, but you don’t want to risk freezing your lines. Also, water can run down the sidewalk and freeze at night, creating a safety hazard. Before shutting the water off, an inspection can reveal damage that might have happened over the summer, so you can get a jump start on planning for next season’s repairs and upgrades. It will also ensure that the water in the system is properly drained to prevent damage to heads and lines.
What To Inspect During An Irrigation Audit
Briefly, here is what we look for:
- Pipes and Lines - It’s important to check all irrigation mains and laterals for leaks and cracks. Do this even if you’ve inspected the system in the fall, because it’s possible for water left in the line to freeze and cause damage and leaks. Even if the system has been drained completely, roots can sometimes grow around the lines and crack them.
- Sprinkler heads and rotors - Like irrigation lines, sprinkler heads can be damaged by freezing water, so it’s important to turn the water on in the spring and check each one to be sure it’s functioning properly. Sprinkler heads do have a life span, so check for normal wear and tear and replace any that seem to be on their way out. The cheap ones from big-box retailers don’t hold up long at all.
Make sure, too, that the heads are aimed correctly. You don’t want water spraying on sidewalks or buildings and running up the water bill. Check to be sure all the plants are getting covered so you don’t end up with dry spots and dying plants.
- Controllers and other components - This is a good time to check the settings on your controller and make sure they are still appropriate for your landscape. Overwatering is often an issue; make sure you are not watering more than necessary. Most turf requires 1” of water per week, so if your system is set for more than that you are probably spending more than you need to on water, and may be inviting turf damage such as fungal disease. If you do not have a rain sensor on your system, now is a good time to add one. It can help prevent damage due to overwatering.
What Else Should You Know?
Your irrigation system audit will help ensure your existing system remains in peak working condition. However, if you have an older system you still may not be operating at peak efficiency. The irrigation industry has taken leaps and bounds in the past decade or so, especially in the area of water efficiency. If you have a larger system, you may find it well worth your while to upgrade to a modern smart irrigation system. We’ve found that a 30-40% savings on water expenses is quite typical. Many of our customers have found that their investment in smart irrigation paid off in just a few short months.
Also, remember that an irrigation system is a dynamic thing. Damage can happen throughout the season, so it’s important to keep an eye on it to prevent issues getting out of hand. That’s one thing we do during our weekly service calls: if we notice any red flags like brown spots or wilting flowers we know something’s wrong and will check it out and correct it on the spot.
Schedule Your Irrigation Inspection Today
If you haven’t had your irrigation system inspected yet this year, now’s the time! Get it done now to ensure a healthy lawn and landscape and reasonable water bills this growing season. You can reach us at 478-750-7733 for our Macon office, or 478-272-3878 for our East Dublin location. Or, contact us here online, and we’ll get back to you soon!