Fall Changes Things
Don’t turn your sprinklers off. Even if it’s a cool, wet, rainy fall; the worst thing you can do to your irrigation system is turn it off. Sprinkler valves and heads have rubber diaphragms and seals that will harden and leak as they get older. Turning the system off is like parking an old car for months. If you don’t need to water still run your system at least weekly for .5-1 minute. It will save you a lot of irrigation repair headaches.
Cut back your watering– Fall is generally cooler and wetter than summer. Watering on your summer schedule not only waste water but is also bad for your lawn. Fungus and disease will set in if your soil and lawn remain too wet for long periods of time. Cut your time down by 30%-50% in early fall and come winter 50%-75%. You can do this easily if your sprinkler controller has a seasonal adjustment setting. Water only in early morning if possible and water once weekly at most. If we run into a hot period you can always manually start your system to give your landscape a boost.
Selective watering– If you have areas that need more water (annuals or fall plantings) put those zones on a different program and water as needed. This way you’re only watering what you need. Also, if you have pots that irrigate with your sprinkler system these zones should always be watering separately, more often, with short cycles (2 minutes with 2 or 3 start times) of water to reduce runoff out of the bottom of the pots.
Sensors– Rain sensors are very important and required by local codes. Make sure your sensors are not in bypass mode. Adjust your irrigation rain sensor to shut off sooner with less rain. Generally in fall and winter we suggest setting sensor to minimum. 1/4” to 1/8” of an inch rain setting. You can test you rain sensor by pressing the button on the top of your sensor or by taking a hose and spraying the sensor (you may have to spray a couple of minutes to activate). Freeze sensors will shut systems down when the temperature get to a trigger point close to freezing. Some are adjustable. Icing down your yard and sidewalks is not recommended and sometime you just forget to turn off your system when we head into a freezing situation.
Check your system– This is a must any part of the year. Every quarter, minimum, you should turn on your system and just look at it. If you see a zone not working, a leak or a geyser, a head shooting into the house or street, or anything that looks wrong. I hate be the bearer of bad news but irrigation systems are not low maintenance. As they get older and landscapes grow they will need more service and attention. If you aren’t looking at your system yourself hire an expert (we can recommend one) to come out quarterly and check your system.
Check your Lights- With the nights getting longer this is the season that you get to really enjoy your landscape light investment. Walk around the yard and be sure all your bulbs are working. Check the angle and direction of the light. Be sure all the fixtures are in tact and mounted securely. Check timer and make sure it is coming on early enough and going off late enough. Check that photocells are working.
Clean you drains– With fall leaves dropping your gutters and drainage grates are a target for getting clogged. Keeping your leaves pickup up and out of the gutters will ensure that youre not getting ready for a rainy-day flood. An easy way to clean gutters is with a blower with a gutter attachment (easily found online).
Mosquito Misting Systems
Refill your tanks- with the cooler wetter season also come mosquitoes. Until the first freeze mosquitoes are going to be a part of your outdoor activities. Minimize their invitation to your parties by checking your tanks fluid levels and that all the nozzles are misting correctly and are not clogged. If your tank needs to be refilled use the proper misting mixture, and time the mist to go off right after dawn and before dusk during peak mosquito activity. Keep those pesky critters at bay.
These are some simple practical fall changes and tips that will save you money and make your Landscape Support Systems more efficient and last longer. If you want to hire a professional to handle these recommended services please call us to schedule a service call with one of our qualified service techs. 210-490-7737.