Sprinkler heads. Sprinkler system heads most commonly used include pop-up spray and rotor heads, impact rotors, and gear-driven rotors. Spray heads typically put out a lot of water in a short amount of time, while rotor heads often cover larger areas and have a slower output.
Zones. A sprinkler system zone is a portion of the overall system that can be turned on and off independently from the rest of the system. The amount and pressure of the water entering the home from the street may limit the amount and pressure of water a sprinkler system can apply to the yard. Watering a portion of the yard at a time eliminates this problem. By designing the zones around the yard’s landscaping, one can adjust the amount of water supplied to different components.
Timers. Most modern timers turn the water on and off in different zones according to the time of day and day of the week. The best time to water your lawn is between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m. A wet lawn is more susceptible to disease, so you should limit the lawn’s wet period, which begins when dew first forms on the lawn and ends when the lawn is dry. Watering before dew forms extends the wet period and encourages disease. Because of rapid evaporation and wind, watering the lawn in the middle of the day is not effective.
Rain and freeze sensors. The rain portion of the sensor conserves water by preventing system operation during or following a heavy rain, when the ground is already saturated and needs no additional irrigation. The freeze portion of the sensor prevents the system from running during freezing and near-freezing conditions. Many cities require these sensors, and all systems should have them in order to avoid accidents.
Automation and smart technology. Sprinkler systems can now be equipped to allow homeowners to use smartphone apps to control their irrigation systems on the fly. Sprinkler systems can also be integrated into some home automation systems.
In the spring, systems should be checked to ensure that all parts, including pipes, zones, heads, and timers, are working correctly. Whether due to wear and tear or an errant lawnmower blade, periodic repairs will be necessary. In the fall, systems should be winterized to prevent pipes from freezing, which can crack and damage them.
Licenses and Permits
Some jurisdictions require anyone performing sprinkler system work to be a licensed irrigator or licensed sprinkler technician. Additionally, new sprinkler installations and plans may also require that a permit be obtained. Depending on the job’s scope, some repairs may also require permits. Before beginning sprinkler work, it is best for a homeowner to check with the city building inspection office in their municipality.