WHY IS MY GRASS SOGGY?
There are many reasons that a yard could be soggy or flooding.
First, turn on your sprinklers and see if any of them are broken. The most common cause of overly wet areas is a broken sprinkler.
Second, check that the grass is not too tall. When the sprinklers pop up, the spray should shoot up and over the grass. If the grass is too tall, it can block the spray and cause uneven coverage and flooding in spots.
If the sprinklers all spray correctly, and if the lawn is not too tall, then check the timer to make sure that the lawn is not getting too much water or being watered too often.
If the timer looks good, another common problem is for the valve to go out. That is a rubber bladder in the valve that moves up and down when the zone turns on. This is the most common part to fail. If it doesn't close all the way, then your sprinklers could be leaking slowly all the time, or they may not shut off at all.
There are many other factors that could cause too much water on your lawn, such as a broken pipe, or even a leak elsewhere in the yard that is running off into the lawn.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY SYSTEM IS WORKING?
Sometimes customers never see their system turn on because the timer has been set to run before they wake up or well after they have gone to sleep. The best way to check your system is to run it manually at the timer. Most timers allow you to run either one zone at a time or a whole program. By running the system by the timer, it ensures that the timer is working and that the valves are turning on and off properly.
You'll also want to check that the timer is watering at the correct time of day, and frequently enough.
When you turn on the system from the timer, if the zone doesn't turn on, then there could be an issue with the timer, the solenoid on the valve, or a bad wire connection somewhere along the line.
If the screen on the timer is turning black, then the display is going out.
There may also be an issue with the power source to the timer, or there may be a short in the timer, or the whole timer could be going out and need to be replaced.
WHY IS MY VALVE BOX FLOODED?
While it can mean that a valve is broken and needs to be replaced, more often than not it ends up being a break in one or more of the lines just outside of the valve box, and the water is flowing back into the valve box. Sometimes, it's because the valve box is the lowest point in the yard so rain water fills the box, a leak elsewhere, or if a zone is set to run for too long the water running off into the valve box flooding it. If that is the case, one thing you can do is adjust run times for nearby plants to avoid run off.
DOES IT REALLY MATTER WHAT TIME OF DAY MY SYSTEM IS WATERING? YES!
In Texas, our summers are very hot, and the sun can be intense. In the summer time, you'll want to make sure that you water the grass early in the morning before the heat of the day. A good time to water your grass is near sunrise. If you water too late in the day, or in the middle of the day, the water will be sitting on top of the grass while the sun is directly on it as well. This can burn your grass, because the water refracts the sun and acts like a magnifier on the grass, burning the blades.
A drip system with emitters can run later in the morning, but if your system has micro sprayers, then you'll want to water in the early morning or late in the evening. In general, watering in the morning is better, as it allows the plants to have a good watering before the heat of the day.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I WATER THE GRASS IN AN TEXAS SUMMER?
In Texas, you'll want to water your grass early, at about 5am or 6am. You'll want to water a second time a couple hours later. Depending on the type of sprinklers you have, you'll want them to run for 7-14 minutes, about 5 days a week. The two start times will allow the water to soak in, and will give the grass a good deep water before the heat of the day.
HOW MUCH WATER DO PLANTS IN SUMMER?
In Texas, drip emitters can be watered later in the day because the water is not sitting on the leaves. You'll just want to make sure that the plants are getting enough water. Most plants and bushes do well with about 45 mins of watering, once of day, three days a week. This allows the plants to get a deeper water than if watered in small amounts every day. This also helps the roots to grow down which makes the plants more stable, and the deeper the roots go, the more they are protected from the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter.
If your system has micro sprayers for your plants, you'll want to water them early in the morning or late in the evening much like the sprinklers. This is so the water is not sitting on the plant while the sun is directly on them.
Trees need lots of water. If your trees are on their own zone and your yard can handle it, it is best to water them for a few hours a few days a week so that the trees also get the deep water helping their roots to grow deep.
It is important that if you have bubblers to water a short amount of time, as they put out a lot of water very quickly.
Also, while these watering times are good for most yards in Arizona, they may need to be adjusted for your yard. If your soil is sandier, then you will need to water more often, clay soil less often, and you'll also need to consider if your plants have been newly planted or are established, as newly planted plants usually require more water.
MY POTTED PLANTS ARE NOT DOING WELL. IS IT A WATERING ISSUE?
If you have potted plants on an irrigation line, then you'll want to water less time and more often so the pots don't flood and have time to dry out between watering. Be sure that the pots also have good drainage to avoid root rot. It is a good idea not to water potted plants midday. Potted plants are not as well protected from the heat as plants in the ground. Watering potted plants midday-with the sun warming up the outside of the pot-can heat the water in the pot and make it too warm for the plants, causing stress on the plant.
If you have potted plants on the same line as a tree or other plants that need more water, it can be difficult to balance the watering needs of the different kinds of plants.
HOW CLOSE TO PLANTS DO DRIP EMITTERS NEED TO BE PLACED?
Most plants do well with the emitters at or near the base of the plants. You need to make sure that the emitters are close enough so the water is where the roots are. Trees, however, should be watered around the edge of the canopy of the tree. Imagine the tree that you see is flipped upside down and underground-that is what the root system looks like. Trees get most of their water from the small, fine roots at the end or at the edge of the canopy, not near the trunk where the big roots are.
Citrus trees do best when they have a well around them that also goes to the edges of the canopy to help provide a more even water coverage. So as the trees grow, emitters will need to be moved away from the tree, and the wells will need to be made larger.
I HAVE A LEAK, SO I TURNED OFF MY TIMER, BUT THE LEAK IS STILL FLOWING. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you have a leak that keeps flowing, you need to turn the water off at the backflow to stop the leak. If turning off the irrigation at the backflow stops the leak, then there may be a break in the line between the backflow and the valves. If the water is still flowing after shutting off the backflow, then there is a break in the main water line that comes from the street and leads to the house before the shut offs.
HOW DO I LOCATE THE BACKFLOW?
In most Texas homes, the irrigation backflow is almost always located in the front yard on the side of the home. In some homes, it is near the front door.
The main water line that goes to the irrigation branches off the main water line that leads to the house. There is normally one shut off handle that will turn off the water to the whole property. The pipe should branch off, then raise up to 18" or more and then go back into the ground. That's where there should be another shut off handle that will turn off the water to the irrigation only.
If you have a pool, then it should have its own backflow which is normally located in the backyard. Sometimes, the valves in the backyard come off this line, so you may need to check for and possibly turn off a second backflow.
If the valves in your backyard come off the pool backflow, once again there should be one handle that turns off water to the pool and another to the irrigation.
Why won't my sprinklers turn off?
First, look at the timer and make sure it is not set to run.
If the timer run times are good, then turn the water off at the backflow. It is most likely that the valve has gone out and needs to be replaced. Sometimes, it could also be a piece of debris that has gotten stuck in the valve and just needs to be cleaned out.
HOW DO I KNOW IF THE PLANTS ARE GETTING TOO LITTLE WATER?
Leaves may look wilted, crispy and dry. Plants may also grow slower, or drop leaves and flowers. You can check the soil around the plant by sticking your finger in 1-2". The soil should be soft and a little moist. If it is hard or very dry, then you may want to increase the water, but make sure that the soil has time to dry before the next water.
Midsummer plants may need a little extra water with the extreme heat in Texas. It's also a good idea to double check that the timer is still working well. If your timer is going out, then it may have lost the programming or may be off all together, not allowing your system to work properly. In addition, check that the emitters are working, as they can easily be clogged with calcium over time with the hard water we have in Arizona.
If you need more help diagnosing your irrigation system, call the experts at Green Ackors to set up an irrigation repair or inspection.