Explaining Irrigation Systems and Home Sprinkler Systems

July 14, 2011

One of the major concerns of Lake Oswego landscaping contractors and turf-lovers across the Portland area is how to water efficiently and effectively. The climate around Portland rarely lacks for water, but during the hot, dry summer months it is necessary to water many plants and most lawns – at least if you to want to prevent them from turning brown and crispy in the summer sun. Our densely built metro area has many condominiums and townhomes with HOA maintenance contracts that include sprinkler systems and irrigation lines. It is good for homeowners and landscaping contractors alike to understand how these watering systems work.

The following is a look at how irrigation and sprinkler systems work and how weather station signal paging can smooth out the watering process. Finally, we’ll list maintenance tips and solutions for common problems with watering systems for landscaping. Beaverton, Portland, Lake Oswego, and surrounding areas are the focal points for our irrigation investigation.

How Sprinkler and Irrigation Systems Work

Home irrigation systems are a series of sprinklers or drip irrigation applicators that are powered by the water pressure behind a single irrigation valve. An electrical irrigation controller determines when the water will be released through the valve to reach thirsty plants. The irrigation controller also shuts the water off after a predetermined amount of time. Homeowners or HOA maintenance providers can set the irrigation controller to preset days and duration to best meet their watering needs.

Weather Station Signal Paging

Weather station signal paging represents one of the latest developments in irrigation technology. They adjust irrigation timing of watering days according to weather patterns. As such, weather station signal paging can help you avoid watering your yard in the rain – an important money-saving concern in high rainfall areas like Portland and Lake Oswego. Landscaping contractors can provide a controller with weather station signal paging that will adjust irrigation frequency according to local weather data such as humidity, wind speed, temperature and rainfall.

Maintaining Your Automated Watering System: Winterization

One of the most important maintenance practices for your irrigation system is to be sure to winterize your system well before freezing temperatures arrive. When water turns into ice, it expands, which can cause your irrigation or sprinkling system to malfunction. Proper winterization involves completely removing water from the system and then keeping it empty during the winter. A landscaping contractor can show you how to prepare your system for winter; he or she can also point out the major parts of your irrigation system, such as the mainline valve, drain valve and backflow preventer, so you understand how to care for your system.

Solving Common Problems with Irrigation and Sprinkler Systems

System does not run. Before you call a landscaping contractor, check that the water is on and that the irrigation controller is properly set.

Sprinkler heads do not pop up. This problem usually occurs because grass has grown over the sprinkler head. Cut away the grass from the sprinkler head and try running the system again.


Sprinkler head pops up but no water comes out. The sprinkler’s nozzle or screen may be blocked by debris. If this happens, pull up the sprinkler and unscrew the nozzle. Wash off the screen under the nozzle with water. Once there is no debris, reassemble the sprinkler head and test the system.

Nozzle is spraying in the wrong places, either too far or not far enough. It’s not hard to adjust the nozzles on most sprinkler systems. Look for a silver adjustment screw in the middle of the head of the nozzle. Turn this screw clockwise to decrease the spray and counter-clockwise to increase the spray.

Because the Portland, Beaverton, and Lake Oswego areas receive so much rainfall (usually between 40 and 45 inches per year) it can be easy for homeowners and HOA maintenance landscaping companies to forget that our water is precious. The Portland area is fortunate to have a strong water system from the Bull Run Reservoir near Mt. Hood. Our water is some of the best in the country. We can preserve water reservoir levels by reducing the amount we use on our landscaping around Beaverton, Portland, and Lake Oswego. Landscaping conscientiously involves considering one’s water use levels and reducing usage where possible.