The Value of Irrigation Maintenance

Routine sprinkler maintenance can lower your water bill, reduce repair costs and stop the loss of landscape.

If you are like most home owners then you spend a fair amount of your time and money on the upkeep of your landscape.  Whether it is the maintenance of your lawn, planting flowers or an annual fertilization or aeration, your lawn is important and is the very first thing other people notice about your home.  Most homeowners though tend to neglect the routine maintenance and upkeep of their sprinkler systems.  Irrigation maintenance is very important on a number of levels in that a routine maintenance program can lower repair costs, reduce water consumption which lowers water bills, and can prevent the loss of landscape due to over or under watering.

Without a maintenance plan this new shrub was planted in front of a rotor and resulted in considerable water loss, over-watering the shrub and under-watering the landscape on the other side.

Sprinkler systems need to be adjusted regularly because things change on your property regularly.  The weather, your plants (the variety, the density and the height) change, your hardscape changes (you may add a patio, move some potted plants or relocate that bird bath ), construction (even some minor project can result in a cut wire or cracked pipe) and regular wear and tear (drive over a head with the car/mower or clogged nozzles) are all great reasons to routinely check and adjust your irrigation system.  The right plan can not only identify these issues but can also save you money in the long run, especially in terms of water consumption.

Taylor Irrigation Service, Inc. of Houston, Texas offers a variety of comprehensive maintenance programs for both commercial as well as residential properties.  We recommend that the average home owner have their system checked at least once per season.  Most residential systems do not need to be checked more than once every other month.  Commercial properties that have the potential to waste a lot more water should be checked a minimum of six times per year but we recommend monthly checks for most commercial clients.  Our basic checks include; setting the controller for current seasonal conditions, adjusting heads for optimum coverage, clearing clogged nozzles and reporting any damage so that it can be repaired as soon as possible.

Adjusting your controller for current seasonal conditions can save you a ton of money on your water bill and makes for a much healthier landscape.

Setting the controller often is very important, especially in terms of water consumption.  The run times that are set for the spring are not going to help you in the summer.  A great example in the greater Houston area would be on St. Augustine grass.  St. Augustine, which is the most common lawn turf in this area, goes dormant during the winter.  Continuing to water the turf can delay this dormancy and can also bring unwanted fungus and disease like brown patch, not to mention the wasted water that raises your water bill.  Understanding the unique water needs of your property and how to achieve a healthy landscape is important.  There are a lot of rules of thumb and old wives tales out there on how and when to water and it is something that is best left to a professional.  A recent study by Rain Bird revealed that most home owners only change the settings on their controller a few times per year which leads to wasted water and unhealthy landscape – both of which cost the home owner money.

Changes also lead to a great many problems with sprinkler systems.  Odds are that the lay of the land when your system was installed is a lot different than it is today.  The height of the plants change, sometimes by double or triple.  Bed sizes and shapes change, as do the types of plants that are planted inside of these beds.  It is important that your sprinkler system be considered whenever these kinds of changes are made.  Sometimes these changes can be very simple to adapt to and sometimes they can be rather tricky.  I had a client last summer that could not figure out why her grass always looked a shade lighter in one corner.  The system, in a run-through, would check out okay until I drove by early one morning on my way to another appointment and saw the problem.  This client watered her turf twice per week on Mondays and Thursdays.  Well… Thursday was also trash day and every week she would set her trashcan in the exact same spot… on the front yard at the corner of the driveway… right on top of the sprinkler head.  This would result in that corner of the lawn getting fifty percent less water than the other areas of the lawn because it was always covered for one full cycle.  The smallest things can make such a difference in terms of irrigation systems and how they relate to the health of your landscape.

A single missing nozzle can cost the home owner hundreds of gallons of water each time the system comes on.

Regular wear and tear are also a big factor in terms of the success of your system.  Running over a head with a mower, backing out of the driveway and running over the head that sits at the corner, clogged nozzles and freeze damage are all very common forms of routine system damage.  These issues are not serious but not noticing these problems can turn them into bigger problems really fast.  These issues can go unseen pretty easily since most systems run while the homeowners are asleep or away at work.  A small leak or a missing nozzle can easily lead to hundreds of gallons of lost water every time the system runs.  A problem like this can hurt you in your water bill and also hurt the landscape because while this leak is open it will often render the rest of that zone useless because there is not enough water to pressure the heads up due to the leak.

Most irrigation maintenance packages are very affordable and can help in a variety of ways from reducing water consumption to improving the health and overall appearance of your landscape.  The next time you look at your lawn and think about maintenance and care, don’t forget the irrigation system.  As Ben Franklin’s old adage goes; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

PG
John A. Taylor is President and CEO of TIS Services in Houston, Texas. He was awarded the 2013 EPA Partner of the Year Award for his water conservation efforts, sits on the state irrigation board (TXIA) and lectures on water conservation through innovative and conscientious irrigation practice. TIS focuses on sustainable landscape and irrigation solutions in the Houston market. John is a veteran of the Unites States Marine Corps and lives with his wife and children in the north Houston area.

John has blogged 12 posts here.

14 comments for “The Value of Irrigation Maintenance

  1. Ed D.
    July 25, 2012 at 11:49 am

    You guys really know your stuff.

  2. Carol
    July 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Is this all original content? Can I use this stuff for a paper that im writing?

    • July 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      Carol,

      Yes, this is all content that is produced by Taylor Irrigation and is meant to help everyone. Feel free to use whatever you find here if it helps and let me know if you have any questions.

      John Taylor

  3. Deborah
    July 24, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Do the yard guys usually do this kind of stuff?

    • July 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      No, the “yard guys” do not usually tackle this sort of thing. I would advise against it anyway. You do not want someone unlicensed setting the controller.

  4. Alex
    July 24, 2012 at 2:47 am

    Great great great! I truly helpful blog.

  5. Dee
    July 24, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Is maintenance the same as the winterizing?

    • July 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      Dee,

      No, winterizing is something else all together though it can be covered in some maintenance packages. Please see the article, “Winterizing Your Backflow.” That will cover the winterizing part.

      John

  6. July 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Thank you for all of the very kind words, Alfred. We certainly appreciate them.

    John Taylor

  7. Alfred Munoz
    July 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

    i can only compliment you for the good job you have been doing with this blog, congratulations and keep it up my friend

  8. Denise L.
    July 12, 2012 at 8:09 am

    John,

    As always, very helpful and informative. We appreciate all of your hard work.

    D

    • July 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

      As always, it is a pleasure, Denise.

      John Taylor

  9. Caroline
    July 12, 2012 at 5:19 am

    Can you send me some information about the different packages and pricing?

    Caroline W.

    • July 13, 2012 at 7:15 am

      Caroline,

      Good day, I just wanted to let you know that the information you requested has been sent to your email address. Thank you very much for your interest and please don’t hesitate to let me know if there is anything else we can do for you.

      John Taylor

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