Give Your Sprinkler A Checkup

Give Your Sprinkler A Checkup

 Popup sprinkler head

Did You Know...  

Watering lawns and landscape plants can account for up to 50% of an average homeowner's total water use. Watering a typical 5,000 square-foot yard with an in-ground sprinkler system could cost more than $10 per application

By properly creating and maintaining a water-efficient sprinkler system, you can reduce water usage while maintaining an attractive landscape.

Sprinkler System Evaluation

Normal wear and tear of your sprinkler system can lead to malfunctions and water waste. Efficient water use requires simple, but ongoing maintenance.

The first step is to perform a routine visual inspection of your sprinkler system. Frequency should depend on property usage. For instance, inspections should be performed more frequently on property heavily used by children or pets.

During the visual inspection, you should ensure that the system functions properly. Look for broken, missing or worn parts. Also check for any leaks and obstructed sprinkler heads. Be sure to properly fix any problems.

Once it is verified that the system is functioning properly, a simple catch-can test should be performed to check the evenness of water application. The catch-can uniformity test should be repeated any time the sprinkler system experiences changes, such as the addition of sprinklers, valve replacement or water source change.

Watching for Signs...

Periodically inspect plants for the signs of overwatering or underwatering. Applying the right amount of water to your landscape can yield substantial water savings and better plant growth.

Signs of Overwatering

Prolonged periods of standing water can harm and possibly kill plants.

  • Leaves may yellow, brown or drop prematurely.

  • Individual branches may die back.

  • Leaves turn yellow or light green.

  • Leaves may droop, even when water is applied.

  • Roots are wet, mushy, and dark brown to black.

  • Soil around roots is moist to the touch, yet plant still droops.

Signs of Underwatering

Dry plants suffer stresses that cause damage to roots, leaves and stems.

  • Leaves turn pale or light green.

  • Leaves droop or wilt.

  • Leaves may turn brown, starting on the edges.

  • Stems have a wrinkled look and turn yellow or brown.

  • Soil around roots feels dry.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide step-by-step instruction on sprinkler system repairs and design issues, but created to be a checklist for homeowners desiring to know more about efficient sprinkler system management. Equipment operation manuals should be consulted for proper use and repair instructions. Many manufacturers provide the manuals electronically on their website. It is suggested that the assistance of a professional licensed irrigation contractor be sought for those tasks beyond the knowledge and abilities of the homeowner. Persons involved in the creation, production, or delivery of this information shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages (including property damages, damages for loss of business profits, business interruption, etc.) arising out of the use of this information, or any omission or inaccuracy of any information.

* Adapted from a publication created by Christine Claus, St. Petersburg Water Resources Department, and Dr. Joan Bradshaw, University of Florida IFAS, with funding provided by the Pinellas-Anclote River basin Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

(page last reviewed: 11/22/13)