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Get garden irrigation system in shape before the season

STILLWATER, Okla. – Gardeners are well aware of the importance of moisture for their lawns and gardens. To help combat watering issues during the growing season, take time now to make sure your irrigation system is ready.

David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist, said it is important to first make a visual inspection of the system.

“Before you even turn on the water, inspect all of the sprinkler heads. Be sure to check for broken heads or heads that may have gotten covered up during the winter,” Hillock said. “Free the heads, make the proper height adjustments and make sure the heads are still in the correct position.”

Once you know the heads are in working order, check all valve boxes for rodent nests and debris. These boxes may have been used as a furry creature’s safe haven during the winter months.

Because water schedules change over the season, what you had the system set on at the end of last growing season will be different than the beginning of this season. Establish there is power to the controller and set the stations for proper run times.

“You’ll also want to turn on the main water source and slowly fill the system,” he said. “If you have manual drain valves, leave them open so air can escape as the pipes fill with water. Close the drain valves when water starts coming out.”

The next step is to check each station manually for leaks. In addition, make sure each head is providing adequate coverage to the area and they are closing properly.

Hillock said if the system is not running properly, additional troubleshooting needs to take place so appropriate repairs can be made.

“Hopefully you don’t discover major issues, but if you do, an irrigation specialist may be needed to fix the problem,” he said.

For those who may not have a rain sensor on their irritation system, this time of year is a good time to install one. Replacing backup batteries also should be done at this time.

“Anyone who has gardened in Oklahoma for any length of time knows the importance of a properly running irrigation system,” Hillock said. “Making necessary repairs now will help in ensuring your landscape plants will be healthy going into the growing season.”


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
136 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078