You'll save money and water if your system is working well. Here's what to look for.

By Rebecca Bull Reed
September 02, 2008
Irrigation Checklist
You'll save money and water if your system is working well. Here's what to look for.

Each year at start-up, take a close look at your irrigation system--you could be losing water and not even know it. Check out the potential problems below to see if your system could use some fine-tuning.

Symptoms of Poor Maintenance

  • erosion or water runoff
  • swampy areas
  • obstruction of spray pattern
  • dying plants
  • water spraying on the street or sidewalk

Problems With Sprinkler Heads and Valves

  • valve leaking
  • head clogged
  • head leaking or broken
  • plants blocking sprinkler
  • rotor or impact heads are not rotating
  • head pushed too far into the ground
  • head tilted or spraying in wrong direction
  • sprinkler spacing not providing head-to-head coverage on the lawn

Symptoms of Low Water Pressure

  • pop-up system not fully extending
  • spray is not reaching proper areas
  • doughnut-shaped dry areas in lawn

Symptoms of High Water Pressure

  • pipes keep breaking
  • sprinkler nozzles blow off
  • spray is misting or fogging
  • spray is overshooting desired areas

Let's say your system checks out okay, but you still want to save some dough. Consider installing a separate water meter for your yard. Though this may cost a few hundred bucks, we promise you'll recoup the cost in one season. Most folks who do so say their bill is almost half of what it was, because water used for exterior purposes is charged at a lower rate. Don't have an irrigation system? No problem; this meter can work on hose bibs too.

"Irrigation Checklist" is from the April 2008 issue of Southern Living.