Sat September 15, 2012
Garden Report

Readjusting Your Automatic Sprinkler System For Fall

Fall is quickly approaching along with cooler temperatures and some much needed moisture. It’s almost time to pull out the long sleeves and KUNC’s Gardner Tom Throgmorton says this September is the month to readjust and protect your automatic sprinkler system.

Cooler weather lessens evaporation. That means lawns and garden beds need less water. Adjust your sprinkler clock to water one day less each week. This will prevent over-watering. If the weather turns hot, you can add the day back in.

Another reason to adjust the sprinkler clock is the time of day it waters. Many folks water very early in the morning during the summer. Adjust the clock to water later in the day. Fall mornings can be frosty. Cold temperatures freeze the water on plants. It causes damage to the plants and the sprinklers.

The high country can expect frosts and possibly hard freezes with any front that passes through. Most areas in the lowlands will have a freeze by the end of the month. We all know we’ll have great weather after the freeze. But it’s that one or two nights that do the most sprinkler system damage. 

Every sprinkler system has some parts above ground. It may be the source pipe or backflow device. Those exposed parts need to be protected from freezing temperatures. If you aren’t sure what needs early fall protection, call your sprinkler company. There are specially designed insulating covers. Use thick blankets as insulation. But get out and cover those parts on the first cold nights.

Now is the time to get on a list to blow out your sprinkler system. I thought if the above ground parts were drained the system was ok for winter. That’s not the case. A neighbor had drained the above ground parts. But he didn’t get all of the water out of the pipes. Last winter got cold enough to shatter his underground mainline. He had to have a whole new system installed.

As the days shorten and cool off, plants don’t need as much water. After shrubs and trees lose their leaves, be sure to water at least once a month through the winter. Evergreens need regular winter watering, too.

Make some minor watering adjustments to help your lawn and plants transition into winter. Plan to protect your sprinkler system this fall.



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