If you maintain a landscape as part of your business, chances are good you’ll need to deal with irrigation. Properties that range from sprawling office parks to small storefronts can have irrigation issues; if you don’t know what to look for, these issues can do major damage before you even know what happened.
To avoid the potential loss of time and money, it’s important to get out in front of small irrigation issues before they become major problems. Here are some red flags to look for when it comes to your company’s irrigation system:
Ground that’s wet or soggy. This is the most frequent and obvious problem with a broken irrigation system. If your property has lots of sitting water or muddy ground—and it’s not right after a hard rain—you might have an irrigation problem. Sitting water isn’t good for lots of reasons: it drowns plants, attracts mosquitoes, and in some cases can threaten the structural integrity of your building. It can also create a bad smell as bacteria starts to grow. Your irrigation lines might be clogged or broken, sprinkler heads could be titled or blocked, check valves could be broken (or not installed), nozzles could be clogged, or your system might be supplying too much water. In any case, you’ll want to talk with an irrigation professional quickly to solve this problem.
Uneven watering and/or plant growth. Sometimes, irrigation systems water unevenly. This can lead to strong, healthy plants on one side of your property, and flimsy, wilted plants on the other. It’s also a reason you might have brown, patchy grass. Uneven watering is often the result of broken (or misaligned) sprinklers—as a general rule, they should all dispense roughly the same amount of water in an even radius. If you’re experiencing this problem, make sure your landscaping company knows to look out for them. Uneven watering can also be caused by inappropriate spray patterns, broken lines, or damaged valves, so check to see if these need to be adjusted, repaired, or replaced.
A huge increase on your water bill. While you can expect your water bill to go up in spring and summer and slowly taper throughout the fall, a giant, unexpected increase on your monthly bill isn’t typical—and it can be because of a broken irrigation line. Broken lines can leak for weeks and months which wastes water and can cost you big bucks. If you see a substantial increase on your bill, call your water company first to see if they have an explanation. If they don’t, it’s time to take a closer look at your irrigation system.
High or low water pressure. With high pressure, water droplets become very small and create a fine mist. This causes water to be wasted because it evaporates quickly, and it can be easily redistributed by wind. High pressure also wears out sprinkler heads much faster than normal pressure. If pressure is high for your whole system, you may be able to fix the problem with a pressure reducer on the irrigation line supplying it. If it’s only one or two sprinklers, you may just need to replace their heads. On the other hand, low water pressure won’t wear out your heads as quickly, but it will cause your sprinklers to water a smaller area than intended. When this happens, there’s a good chance one of your irrigation lines is leaking. When dealing with low pressure, you should contact your water company first to see if pressure is low in the area. If it isn’t, check for underground leaks—you also may need to consider a more efficiently designed system.
Unfortunately, most irrigation problems can only be fixed by a professional with plenty of experience. But having a properly functioning irrigation system is worth it—and it’s one of the best ways to keep your landscape healthy and thriving for many years down the road.
Keep in mind that lots of the irrigation problems that were common 10 or 20 years ago can now be avoided by installing a smart irrigation system. If you’re interested in learning more about irrigation—or how smart irrigation can help make managing your property simple and efficient—contact us today.