Four Seasons of Irrigation: How to Keep Your Sprinkler System in Top Shape All Year Round

Automatic sprinkler systems are great, but like everything else in your home, they need a little maintenance to help them stay that way. The good news it that it isn't a massive undertaking; you simply need to do a few quick tasks at the start of every season to keep your garden irrigation as good as new for years to come.


Spring is when your lawn is at its most enthusiastic, and there's usually enough rain around that it won't need a lot of watering. This is the ideal time to give your sprinkler system a full test, though; plug in the control panel and manually turn on your system's zone's one by one to give yourself a clear picture of what might be going on. The main things you'll need to look out for are:

  • Sprinkler heads that aren't opening because grass has grown over them. These are simple to clean out yourself, once you've identified which ones they are.
  • Sprinkler heads that aren't offering full coverage and have become misaligned. These can be manually repositioned, and/or realigned with a sprinkler head adjustment tool depending on the problem.
  • Sprinkler heads and pipes that aren't filling or sprinkling at all, and have broken over the winter months. These will often require a professional to fix, but for a trained specialist, it's usually a very simple and straightforward job.
  • Systemic water pressure problems, resulting in an inadequate flow and coverage. To sort this out, you'll need to hire a professional - they'll have the right tools and parts to test your system's water pressure and adjust it as necessary.

Sprinkler systems tend to come with backflow prevention assemblies. These are important for the health and safety of you and your family; without them, the water used to irrigate your lawn could find its way into your home's water supply. Some areas require that these systems are tested annually, so you'll need to check with your local authorities to find out if this applies to you. Even if it doesn't, regular professional testing is recommended.


Thanks to all your hard work in the spring, during the hot summer months your system should be in perfect working order - but it's still worth keeping an eye on it as summer progresses. Have a quick look at it on at least a monthly basis, just to make sure that none of your sprinkler heads have become clogged or misaligned. There are several sprinkler maintenance checklists available online that make it quick and easy to see what's what - this one from is a good place to start.


As summer fades into autumn, you'll probably still want your system running sometimes - but keep an eye on rainfall to ensure you aren't overusing it. This is also your chance to prevent clogged sprinkler heads before they happen, by keeping your lawn as free of fallen leaves as you can.


Before the real cold weather hits, it's important to get your sprinkler system ready for the chill. If you live in an area where temperatures ever fall below freezing, it's vital that you get all the water out of your system's pipes before the first frost - and the only way to ensure that happens is to have all the pipes blown out using a professional air compressor. This is the one time of year when you really do need to contact a professional; consumer air compressors exist, but they don't have sufficient pressure to get the job done and can lead you to need extremely expensive repairs the following spring. Depending on the size of your system, the task should only take 30-60 minutes, so it's well worth getting a skilled contractor in to do the job right.