When Should You Turn on Your Sprinkler System?

When Should You Turn on Your Sprinkler System?

Mar 25th 2024

Spring is here, and as the temperature warms up, it's time to prepare your lawn and garden for proper watering after a long, gloomy winter. Although spring starts at the end of March, most gardeners are still determining when to start sprinklers after freezing winters. The ideal time to turn on your irrigation system depends on weather conditions in your area and your landscape watering needs. Starting sprinklers too early can damage your system, and starting too late means your lawn is not receiving the hydration it needs during the growing season.

So, when should you turn on your sprinkler system? The best time to start your system varies from year to year, but it can be anytime from late March through May or later.

Read on for the detailed answer to when and how to turn your sprinkler system on.

Best Time to Turn on Your Sprinkler System

Starting up your sprinkler system depends on your area's weather. The decision to start your irrigation system comes down to frost. Experts say it is best to wait until the frost thaws; there is no threat of frost, and nighttime temperatures remain above freezing. Prolonged winter weather can be hard on your sprinkler system, and a hard frost can severely damage your lines once the system is turned on.

Mid-April can be an excellent time to start your system for warmer climates. Late April or the start of May is the safest time to turn on your system and protect your entire system from frost damage. If your area has a rainy spring, you can even wait till the end of May. However, ensure your irrigation system is running before the summer heat begins.

Risks of Starting Your Sprinkler System Early

Starting your system too early is risky. Cold weather can freeze the water in your lines, which strains sprinklers when they try to run in the morning. Freezing conditions are bad for your sprinkler system, and since early spring's weather is unpredictable, you should wait until the weather is past freezing.

In the spring, the ground is still cold from the chilly winter. Similarly, in the fall, the ground still holds heat from the summer. Therefore, it is safe to run your irrigation system in early fall but not in early spring because there is a risk of damaging your system. When the temperatures in your area are consistently above freezing both day and night, you can activate your sprinklers.

Tips to Prepare Your Sprinkler Irrigation System for Spring

Here are a few tips to help you determine the best time to start watering your landscape and prepare for the growing season.

Check the Weather Forecast

Before turning on your lawn sprinkler system, it's recommended to check the weather forecast and ensure there are no more freezing temperatures. If there is any chance of rain in the next few days, you should delay activating the system until the rain passes. Usually, the best time to check and activate your system is from late April to May. Regular watering will not be necessary until early June.

Monitor Soil Moisture

Monitor soil moisture to determine whether your plants require watering. You can use a probe or stick to check the moisture content around the plants' roots. If the soil feels dry, it is time to start your system and water your plants.

Grab the Tools Needed to Start your System

Before activating and inspecting your system, you should gather all the required tools and materials needed. You'll need the following things:

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Pen and notepad
  • Sprinkler valve key
  • Small hand shovel

Inspect Your Sprinkler System

Now is the perfect time to inspect your system and check for any repairs. When you turn your system on in spring, you can easily detect problems. Spring is the best time to check for leaks, damaged sprinkler heads, or cracked water lines. If any component needs repair or replacement, now is the time. Issues must be addressed quickly before the summer heat, or they can become expensive repairs later.

Program Your Irrigation Controller or Water Timer

If you have battery-operated controllers, ensure they have fresh batteries or power in electronic timers. Set up the correct date and time, desired start time, zone run time, and days on which you'd like to water. You may need to adjust the run times and days as the weather changes throughout the season. If your timer has a rain sensor, turn it on.

How to Turn on Your Sprinkler System After Winter

Here is a step-by-step process to start your sprinkler system in the spring.

  • Find the location of your system's main shutoff valve and turn it off. It is usually in your basement or system valve boxes.
  • Slowly turn on the main valve to let water flow into your sprinkler system.
  • Run a manual test by setting a sprinkler timer to test all sprinkler zones. Run each zone for 3-5 minutes.
  • Check for clogs or damage in each sprinkler head.
  • Check for water coverage, flow delays, or leaks at sprinkler heads.
  • Keep writing the problems on a notepad to address them later.
  • Open the valve box to ensure there are no leaking valves or pipes.
  • Remove lawn or any plant growth from sprinkler heads.
  • Make sure each zone has enough water coverage.
  • If any head is clogged, unscrew it, clean the filter at the base, and clean the head with water.
  • Address all the problems you found during the test. Clean and replace the heads that are not working properly and get ready to irrigate your outdoor space efficiently.

The Bottom Line

Spring means it is almost time to start your sprinkler system so your landscape can get the water it requires to flourish. If you're finding the single answer to when to open your sprinkler system, it is when there is no risk of frost. In addition to activating your irrigation system, spring is also the season to inspect and upgrade your system for efficient irrigation. Following the above tips, you can give your lawn and garden the water they need to thrive.

At DripWorks, we know a properly functioning and well-installed irrigation system is key to a healthy, beautiful, and lush landscape every season. So, we offer the best quality irrigation products required to set up your sprinkler system.

Whether you're looking to install a new irrigation system, replace the current one, or only need a few irrigation components, DripWorks is here to help. We have everything you need to set up a high-quality irrigation system for your lawn and garden. Give your landscape the best chance to thrive this season with an excellent irrigation system!