Maintaining Your New Irrigation System
Landscapes need watering from May to October. Your lifestyle is often determines your need an irrigation system. Do you take summer vacations, work long hours or you just do not have time? Perhaps your health does not permit you to water or simply you have better things to do? If any of these describe you, irrigation is your answer to beautiful landscape maintenance. Atlanta summers can bring long dry spells where you wonder if it will ever rain again. With an irrigation system in place, you do not have to worry about where your plants will find their next drink. One bonus of is irrigation systems tap into the main water lines, making auto fill water features, and water spigots significantly less expensive. Click Here to Determine Your Watering Run-Times with Rain Bird’s Calculator
Irrigation System Maintenance
Most lawns only need one inch per week. To find out how long it take for one inch of water come out, place cups on the lawn and turn on the system. Time how long it takes for an inch of water collects in your cups. Hint: Measure your cups before you place them in the yard making a mark at one (1) inch.
Occasionally, check your irrigation system to make sure there is no damage from your lawn mower. Make sure your drip irrigation is working. If you have drip irrigation or spray heads, make sure the plants have not outgrown or the space, the system may need to be adjusted or retrofitted.
Replace any back-up battery in your irrigation controller so your system will maintain its memory in the event of a power failure.
Prepare for Winter Weather
You must winterize your system. In Atlanta, generally the ground does not freeze below the first inch, but for the times of a more serious freeze. You must prepare or you might have to redo your irrigation system. Before extreme weather comes, you need to get most of the water out of the system. Your shutoff valve is located underground close to the water meter. With the water shut off, use the controller to turn off all the zones, then turn on all your zones. Allow the system timer to run through all of its cycles in its normal manner. Much of the water in your pipes will run out of the lowest irrigation heads. The water that remains will not be under pressure. Your system should be fine when you turn it on after the cold weather.
Another alternative is to purchase a maintenance contract from an irrigation contractor. Typically, a contractor will check the heads prior to a winter drain and after the winter, before the next season. They may also shoot compressed air through the pipes to remove all of the water.
Other Maintenance Tips
If you suspect a leak in your system, you can find out by going to main water meter, there is a very sensitive red triangle that rotates with if there is even a small amount of water. Make sure all faucets are shut down in the house, and then check the water meter. Re-check the meter after you shut down the irrigation system. If the triangle is present there is no water movement. There is a leak if the triangle moves when the system cycle resumes.
Once you have identified a leak, find the location of the leak. To find the leak, wait for a time free of rain and a couple of days without the sprinkler. When the system comes on the next time, check for wet areas, most likely the irrigation valves or main shut off area. Water in a low point will need to be traced to its source.
The system needs adjusted if the irrigated area produces run off, standing water or becomes muddy. Certain soils and slopes make this worse. Adjust your cycle to a shorter duration with more frequent cycles.
Example: a thirty (30) minute cycle becomes two 15 minute cycles.
Irrigate during the early morning, night or late evening hours, generally between 6pm and 10am.
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Evaporation makes watering in the heat of the day inefficient. Much of the water is lost before it hits the ground. Less evaporation and less wind make in early morning the best time to irrigate.
Now that your understanding of care for plants have increased, you should also know that not all plants are the same. Many factor will determine how much you need to water. Some plants like more water than others, others have a larger root ball than others. You may be watering one plant for 10 second, and the next 30 second. How do you know what is enough? We recommend performing the index finger test. This is where you penetrate the soil around the plant with your index finger three inches deep. and see how wet it is. if you pull out mud, then you’re gppd, if it is wet and sticks a little bit, you can wait or add a little bit of water to it. If it is dry then please soak it with water. No single plant is in the same condition as the other. Some plants get more sun than others, therefore, they get more evaporation. Some are in direct competition with bigger trees like an oak. The the oak roots always suck up moisture, so these new plants need to be watered more often.
We recommend you research each plant and get to know them. After-all, you may be quizzed one day, or you can really impress your neighbors who come to you and tell you how beautiful your outdoor space looks.