Not all sprinklers are created equal. In fact, some are better suited for particular tasks than others. And, some use water much more efficiently than others. Find out more about types of sprinklers here or watch this Garden Time segment. Regardless of the type of sprinkler that you use, there are simple things you can do to ensure that the right amount of water gets where it is needed.
One of the most important things you can do to conserve water outdoors is to keep your watering system operating efficiently, whether it's a hose with a nozzle or a sophisticated underground irrigation system. Watch this segment from KATU's AM Northwest to see how to test out your hand-watering or in-ground sprinkler system in the springtime.
Summer Sprinkler System Maintenance
- Know how long it takes your sprinkler system to water an inch: use a tuna can to measure your sprinklers' water use
- Regularly check your watering system to leaks, broken lines, or misdirected sprinkler heads. Taking a few minutes once a month to make sure your sprinkler and/or hoses are working correctly is a crucial step to ensuring efficient water use outdoors. Be sure to run your entire system zone by zone and check the following:
- Signs of leakage, especially damage to sprinkler heads or piping. Repair and replace as needed. Look for perpetual damp spots in your landscape as these might indicate a leak or broken line that will have to be fixed.
- Accurate spray patterns. Adjust your sprinkler heads so they water your landscape and not sidewalks or pavement. Make sure their spray isn’t blocked by plants or other materials as well.
- Get your backflow checked. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, chances are that you have a backflow connection that is required by law to be checked annually. Have the cross connection assembly, or back flow, tested by a state-certified tester. Contact your local water provider for specific information on rules and regulations - be sure to ask for the cross connection or backflow specialist.
- Install a rain sensor. Rain sensors are designed to shut off sprinkler systems when rainfall reaches a preset amount, usually 1/4 inch. Once the moisture level subsides, the sensor re-enables the sprinkler system, resuming the previous watering schedule. Rain sensors should be mounted in an unobstructed area exposed to open sky - minimizing the potential for fallen leaves or other debris from blocking the sensor.
Hand-Watering System Maintenance
- Inspect your hose, hose nozzle, and/or sprinkler for leaks and general wear and tear that will affect its performance. For example: is the metal end of your hose bent or covered in dirt or debris? Is the washer in good condition? If not, they could cause your watering system to leak.
- Put your system through a test-run. This will tell you if your connection are properly tightened and whether there are any holes that need to be repaired. Making sure that your hand-watering system is leak-free is one of the most important things you can do to use water wisely. This is because a dripping spigot or small hole can easily waste hundreds of gallons of water each month - over the summer, that can really add up to a lot of wasted water and money.