Ending Your Irrigation Frustration

Landscaping Pet Peeve

Here are a few of my landscaping pet peeves: invasive species, volcano mulching, and improper irrigation. Improper irrigation bothers me the most, especially when I see wasted water on sidewalks and roadways.

I used to live in New Mexico’s high desert and water was a limited resource. There was no expansive aquifer, so most farmers and municipalities relied heavily on streams and rivers. Nonetheless, I saw wasteful irrigation. Every morning I would see water flowing in the street’s gutter that was caused by a small group of homes with broken sprinklers or sprinklers spraying directly into the road.

Water is a limited resource and should be used efficiently and responsibly. The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program promotes nine landscaping principles and one of those principles is “Water Efficiently.” Watering landscapes efficiently can reduce pest problems, minimize maintenance needs, save money, and reduce water waste.

Regular maintenance to an irrigation system helps water our landscapes efficiently. However, let us be honest, irrigation systems can seem confusing. With timers, sprinklers, drip line irrigation, irrigation valves, rain sensors, soil moisture readers, back-flow preventers, flow rates, and water pressure-we immediately start to get a headache.

I have experience with irrigation and I strangely enjoy designing and building irrigation systems. It is like a grown-up version of Legos or Erector sets. With all the various pieces of pipes and equipment, irrigation systems almost seem limitless in application. Nonetheless, I still find myself in a state of frustration, scratching my head, thinking, “How do I? Wha-? Huh?”

Basic Irrigation Repairs

Understanding basic repairs and maintenance to our irrigation systems help conserve water.

If you notice that one of your sprinklers are not throwing water as they typically would, more than likely you have a clogged sprinkler. To clean a clogged sprinkler, carefully remove its inside components and rinse with clean water.

Tall plant material, trashcans, or other things in our yards can obstruct a sprinkler. Grass can even grow over a sprinkler, preventing it from popping up. Removing the obstructions can help irrigate efficiently.

If you notice water spraying your home or getting on a sidewalk, driveway, or roadway, you will need to adjust your sprinklers. Reposition your titled sprinklers by hand or use an irrigation key to adjust the arc and radius of the sprinkler.

If you have your own “Old Faithful” in your yard, you may have a broken sprinkler or a missing nozzle. Immediately turn-off the sprinkler system and determine what has happened. Most modern irrigation systems have made it easy to replace a sprinkler or nozzle. Simply unscrew the entire sprinkler from the underground PVC pipe and screw on the new sprinkler. With newly installed sprinklers, you will have to adjust the sprinkler to make sure you irrigate your yard appropriately.

Development and increased demands on our water resources, we’ll need to work together to conserve Florida’s water resources. Although irrigation can be confusing, our basic knowledge about maintenance and repairs goes a long way toward irrigating efficiently and using the natural resources responsibly.

If you have any questions about your irrigation system or how to better irrigate efficiently, please contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at Alachua County’s extension office for more tips. You can call at (352)955-2402 or email your questions to mag@alachuacounty.us

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