Temperatures have dropped here in northern Nevada. It may only be mid-September, but we’ve already had snow on Mt. Rose. As leaves begin changing and days shorten, people inevitably start asking – when should I turn off my sprinklers? The general rule of thumb in Reno and Sparks is to shut down your irrigation system by Halloween, but the best thing to do is watch both the weather and long-term forecasts. Once you’ve decided the time is right, here’s how to winterize your irrigation system.
Shutting Down the Sprinklers
Those shorter days and cooler temperatures prompt your plants, trees, and shrubs to settle into dormancy. It’s a state with a decreased need for water. Plus, freezing temperatures can damage your irrigation system, creating a big headache come spring. But before you turn off the water, soak your trees and shrubs to an 18-inch depth, and irrigate to the outer tips of the branches on your plants with soaker hoses or a sprinkler. This watering will help prep your trees, shrubs, and plants for their long winter’s rest.
Wintering your irrigation system is typically a four-step process.
- Begin by shutting down the controller. You can consult your owner’s manual, if you have one, for the necessary steps.
- Next, shut off the water supply. Wrap the main shut-off valve with insulation or pack it in pine straw to shelter it from freezing temperatures. Any above-ground piping should also be insulated.
- Drain the water from your system’s pipes so it won’t freeze and cause cracking. Depending on your system, you can use a manual drain valve, an automatic drain valve, or a compressor blow-out method.
- Finally, make sure your back flow preventers and valves are insulated if they’re also above ground.
While it’s not overly complicated to winterize your irrigation system, there is room for error, particularly when it comes to draining the pipes. If you don’t feel comfortable properly winterizing your system, contact Harris Landscape Construction today to schedule an appointment. When the time is right, we’ll come and do it for you.
Some trees and plants still need water over the winter months, especially if three or four weeks goes by without an inch or so of precipitation. Use a hose to water the trees and plants that need it, and you’ll enjoy healthier plants in the spring.