Leon Macha

“Each rain just marks the beginning of the next drought”.

That is a favorite saying among Texas farmers, ranchers and anyone else whose living depends on regularly spaced rain events. Irrigation is the savior to avoid economic disaster.

For homeowners, it is time to give your irrigation system, hoses and sprinklers a test for proper condition and operation. Hot, dry summer is knocking on the door.

I observe that at least 50 percent of installed irrigation systems need repairs and maintenance. It is time to turn on each sprinkler zone for a test. This is not difficult. If you study your controller box, its dials, buttons and switches for a few minutes, you will likely be able to figure it all out. Otherwise, dust off the instruction sheet. These systems are all designed to be homeowner friendly.

Then put on your swimwear, get a lawn chair and a cold beverage,turn the system on, sit back and watch. Walk through the cooling spray to look for:

•Heads trapped under the grass and not popping up

•Heads that just don’t or can’t pop up to spray or rotate

•Heads with damaged or broken parts due to lawnmowers, weed-eaters, car tires, foot traffic

•Heads partially stopped up with sand and trash

•Spray patterns aimed at your house wall, sidewalk, or street.

•Shrub growth that blocks the spray pattern

Many of these problems can be fixed by the average home handyman or woman. If not, then your local irrigation system contractor can quickly make these problems disappear. Get your name on his list soon. He is a busy guy at this time of year.

Time your irrigation to start during the wee hours of the morning, ending by about 8 a.m., before the hot winds play havoc with spray patterns. Water deep and less often. I find that 45 minutes twice a week for each turf zone works pretty well at this time of year. Your lawn needs at least 1 inch of water or more per week in mid-summer. Your landscape beds may not need as much, but you have to be the judge.

If you have a hose and sprinkler system, then it’s time to pull out all the equipment and discard the old junk—stiff or leaking hoses, leaking connections, sprinklers that don’t do their job or cause frustration for you. The money spent on quality equipment will pay you back many times over many years.

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