It’s irrigation season. If you have a grass lawn with spray heads, it’s time to check out your system to make sure it is running smoothly. Run a one-minute test program on the controller and visually examine each zone. Look for broken, leaning, or clogged sprinkler heads. Check and adjust for irrigation spraying on sidewalks, driveways, patios, or streets. Look for uneven coverage and sprays that may be blocked by new landscape growth.

If any of the above issues are happening, you’ll want to go through each spray head and perform the following maintenance tasks:

  1. Flush the sprinkler system by turning on the sprinklers for a few seconds without the nozzle.
  2. Adjust the arc by turning the sprinkler on. While the sprinkler is watering, look at the right side and see if it is aligned. If it isn’t, you will need to align it by turning the entire riser to the correct position (to the right) as this is the fixed side of the arc. While turning the riser you will hear a noise. This is a ratcheting system that allows you to make an adjustment. Turn it clockwise to reduce the arc and counterclockwise to increase the arc.
  3. Adjust the radius by turning the screw in the middle of the nozzle with a flathead screwdriver, turning clockwise position to reduce, and to reach farther turn opposite direction or counterclockwise.
  4. Clean the filter by pulling the riser up and holding it with one hand, while your other hand unthreads the nozzle and pulls the filter out. Clean the filter by dipping it into a bucket of water.

If your spray heads are putting out a very fine mist or fogging, your system may be operating over its design pressure. You’ll need to install a pressure regulator to reduce the water pressure at the irrigation system’s water connection, which is before the backflow and after the meter.

Learn more by checking out these other useful irrigation articles:

Yes, you can afford an irrigation system.

Best practices for watering your plants with a hose or drip system.

Use Drip irrigation for your trees and shrubs.

Author: Jill Brown, ASLA, is a Landscape Architect and owner of My Landscape Coach in Albuquerque, NM. Contributor: Greg at Sisco Irrigation, Albuquerque, NM. Have A question about the article?