What Mr. Miyagi Says
This blog post is for all of you who have made the sound decision to invest in an automatic sprinkler system for your lawn and landscape. As a major sprinkler contractor serving Northern Virginiaover 30 years, the team at BG Outdoor Services spends a great deal of time every summer responding to customer inquiries and estimate requests. One of the most…we’re searching for the right word here … curious? … ironic? … preventable? problems we see regularly are properties with third-party sprinkler systems we did not install that have dry lawns. Actually, dry spots would be more accurate. Someone calls because the lawn has developed brown spots. The homeowner initially suspects insidious bugs or parasitic fungi have invaded their green space only to find the area is dry.
The response from the homeowner is almost always the same once we inform them the grass in those areas is just a little thirsty – “That’s not possible. I have a sprinkler system.” Some will add the tagline “and you should see my water bill”. The sure-fire method for settling the debate is to have the homeowner put some old cereal bowls or whipped topping containers on the lawn, a few in the brown spots areas and a few where it’s nice and green nearby. Then, turn on the sprinkler system for 30 minutes and measure how much water accumulates in each area.
When said homeowner later calls and says “The technician was right!” our next step is to recommend a sprinkler audit.
What Is a Sprinkler System Audit?
A Sprinkler System Audit, as recognized by the Irrigation Association, is a complex affair involving exhaustive measurements of precipitation rates, head spacing and soil percolation, among other things. An abbreviated option is all that is generally needed for a home irrigation system. Most systems are automatically set to come on in the wee hours of the morning and most homeowners rarely see it run. Usually, they only know there is a problem when something stops working or there is a geyser of water shooting out of their lawn (a prime reason to install a master safety valve … but that’s a story for another day). We strongly recommend that anyone with a lawn sprinkler system schedule an audit every three to four years.
What to Expect from Irrigation System Audits
The simplified home audit involves a senior sprinkler technician spending an hour or so with you working through each zone on your in-ground irrigation system. The tech will point out areas that are not being watered evenly, give programming tips on how to most efficiently water, note any defects and make recommendations on possible changes so you get the most bang for your watering buck. In many cases, the corrections are minor (an overgrown shrub is blocking a head, the system wasn’t programmed to water at the correct times or a head needs to be replaced). The overwhelming feedback from customers over the years is that their sprinkler audit paid for itself in lower water bills by the end of the watering season.
Timely audits aren’t just aimed at solving dry spots. In the words of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, “No, there’s more!” For every spot that is being under-watered, there are probably three areas that are getting too much water. This is a pet peeve of ours at BG Outdoor Services, as it tends to give automatic sprinkler systems a bad name. One of the major benefits of a sprinkler system is to save water. We know folks don’t want to purposely waste water, but due to poor contractors, poor communication or both it happens all the time. Schedule a sprinkler audit with a qualified company and put an end to the dry spots and wasted water.
BG Outdoor Services has served as a trusted sprinkler contractor for over three decades by installing, maintaining, auditing and repairing in-ground irrigation systems for NOVA homeowners. We leverage our accumulated knowledge and expertise to ensure your sprinkler system runs properly, waters evenly and saves you money. Contact us today to schedule your sprinkler system audit.