Your Grass is Talking To You

Cleveland Powell

Baffled by spots, stripes or other odd patterns in your lawn? Before you chalk it up to supernatural phenomena, you might want to inspect your irrigation system.

It might be raining now, but if there’s one thing you can count on in Texas it’s that the summer will bring high heat and little precipitation. And if you own an irrigation system, the temptation will always be there to crank up the sprinklers, especially if your once-green lawn is looking a bit mottled.

Of course, running the sprinklers longer is not the solution. But learning to recognize subtle patterns across your lawn can help you diagnose pressure problems with your in-ground irrigation system. Look for these telltale signs.

  • Circles or semi-circles of green grass surrounded by struggling grass: a symptom of low pressure on sprays. The low pressure reduces the distance that each head can “throw” water, leading to a patchy and inefficient pattern of distribution

  • A ring with a dot in the middle: produced by low pressure in a rotor zone. Again, low pressure means less distance covered.

  • Stripe of green, or multiple stripes radiating out from a central spot: caused by a stuck rotor or stuck multi-stream rotor. When working properly, rotors sweep back and forth applying water evenly across the area they cover; when they get stuck, they only apply water in a stream at the point where they’re jammed.

If an entire zone doesn’t seem to be getting any water there could be a few different problems. Zone valves can wear out or be disconnected from the controller and fail to open. If you notice a dry zone with one big wet spot this could be a symptom of a broken lateral line.

Even if the rest of a zone is working properly, issues with individual sprinkler heads can reduce the efficiency of the entire zone. Clogged heads, broken nozzles or sunken heads can all cause an irregular green spot surrounded by dry grass. Clogged heads don’t put out the proper amount of water and need to be cleared. Broken nozzles don’t apply water evenly and need to be replaced. And sunken heads can’t clear the grass and need to be adjusted so they can spray out above the sod.

It’s good practice to watch your system run once a month to check for these potential problems. There could be several factors at play causing your particular issue — scheduling a free irrigation consultation is a great place to start. We’ll check the system for potential problems and suggest ways to conserve water.

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