Irrigation sprinkler head watering turf

3 Items for Visual Inspections of Landscape Irrigation

Landscape water use is a big concern here in Southern California. It is a very hot topic with many facets. Water costs a lot of money here, and without oversight, can be a source of complaints, liability and cost over-runs for Homeowner Associations, site users and communities. Landscape managers must be experts at proactive water management! We need to spot coverage issues before they become problems. We identify plant stress from too little water, sometimes from far away at 25 mph! We must also quickly identify over-watering signs like certain weed species growing, erosion or algae.

Irrigation systems should be turned on regularly by to check for issues. This should be in your landscape maintenance contract. Many of the small repairs are within the scope of the on-site contractors agreement, others require an extra work proposal. What does your communities landscape maintenance contract say with regards to irrigation? How specific is the language?

Because July is Smart Irrigation Month, here are some things we look for when conducting site irrigation inspections.

  1. Mainline components
    • Controller – programmed correctly, battery functional, map and written schedule present, each station operates electrically, signs of animal intrusion in housing
    • Valves – check for leakage, seepage, signs of animal intrusion in boxes, watertight connectors and solenoid connections functional
    • Wiring – broken wires, corrosion
    • Sensors – operational and correctly wired
    • Backflow prevention – check for leakage, note inspection date
    • Pressure regulator – operational and set to correct psi
  2. Plantings & hydrozones
    • Plantings – symptoms of drought or over-watering, water hitting trunks and pooling, sprinklers blocked by large plants
    • Soil – excessive thatch in turf, mulch needed, soil type and infiltration
    • Hydrozones – exposure correct for zone, plantings in groups of like water requirements according to station
  3. Lateral line components
    • Pipes – signs of breaks or leakage
    • Heads – correct spacing, same head on each valve, sunken heads, tilted heads, low head drainage
    • Nozzles – matched precipitation nozzles, correct spray pattern, blockages, over-spray, unequal discharge, pressure
    • Drip – filters cleaned, pressure correct, even water distribution, clogged emitters

We hope this helps your community manage its water resources and protect the investment you have made in site irrigation. In all my years in the landscape industry, I can say that irrigation issues are the number one cause of landscape plant problems. Protecting landscape assets for stakeholders is what we specialize in. Need an irrigation inspection? Contact us!