Take Time to Inspect Your Irrigation System

April 19, 2024

Every year around this time we have an unseasonable, and unfortunately short, bout of summer weather. One week we’re cranking up our thermostats, and the next week the AC is on. While this often prompts buds to burst, and bits of green to pop through the soil, it isn’t time to worry about watering yet. Even a week or two of warm and dry air is not reason enough to turn on the irrigation system. However, this taste of summer is a good reminder that now is the time to ensure your irrigation system is in working order for when the summer season finally does arrive. 

At Landscape East & West, we’re happy to visit your home or business to conduct a spring tune-up on your irrigation system. Whether you call us or want to tackle the job of inspecting and repairing yourself, here’s what we recommend to make sure your irrigation system is in good working order and ready to flow into summer: 

Start the System

Turn On the System: The water to your irrigation system was likely shut off last fall so you’ll need to reopen the main irrigation valve before you run the sprinklers or drip lines.

Test the System: Run each zone of your irrigation system long enough to ensure that all components are functioning correctly. Look for any areas of poor coverage or malfunctioning sprinkler heads. 

Check for Leaks: With the system on, check for any leaks along the pipes, valves, and connections. Leaks can cause unexpected spikes in water usage so repairing leaks promptly can save you money as well as prevent water waste and damage to the system.

Backflow Testing: Property owners in Oregon are required to have a backflow preventer installed with their irrigation system. This assembly is connected to your home’s water pipes to prevent water from flowing back into the main water supply. Backflow preventers are required to be tested annually by a state-certified backflow tester. Our irrigation technicians are trained and certified to conduct these tests and we submit the required reports to the city, county, and state on your behalf. 

Inspect Valves: Rough winters and just plain aging equipment can damage valve assemblies and cause leaks. Open your valve boxes and conduct a careful inspection. 

Sprinkler Heads

Inspect and Clean Sprinkler Heads: Over the winter, sprinkler heads can become covered with dirt and debris, or blocked by overgrown vegetation. Clear away anything that blocks the sprinkler head, and if you have rotor-style heads, remove the nozzle from each rotor and clean it out. Replace any nozzles that are missing or damaged. The goal is to keep your sprinkler heads properly distributing the water. 

Adjust Sprinkler Heads: Check the direction and range of the sprinkler heads to ensure they are watering the intended areas of your landscape. Adjust the heads as needed to avoid watering sidewalks, driveways, or other non-landscaped areas. Straighten any heads that are leaning. 

Consider Water-Saving Nozzles: Just like replacing indoor shower heads with water-saving models can help conserve water and lower your water bill, water-saving nozzles do the same thing for your irrigation system. Your landscape will still get the water it needs with less water wasted. 


Inspect the irrigation controller: Your controller is likely inside your garage or a shed, so fairly well protected, but it can still be damaged. Turn it on to ensure it is working correctly and displays the correct time. If the controller has a battery backup, test the batteries and replace them if needed. 

Adjust Controller Settings: Update your irrigation controller settings to reflect the changing watering needs of your landscape as the weather warms up. The rain in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t just stop when the plants bloom and temperatures rise. The frequency and length of time you need your irrigation system to distribute water will likely be much shorter in May than it will be in August and September. We suggest using the seasonal adjust option on your controller to adjust the timing in all zones to 80% when it’s still cool to 110-115% in the high heat of summer. 

Consider a Smart Controller: Controllers can come equipped with weather sensors or rain collectors so they automatically adjust the water flow based on how wet it is outside. A bonus is that rebates are often offered through the manufacturers of smart controllers. 

Water Wise Solutions: Landscape East & West’s Waterwise Solutions can lower water usage by up to 30%. High-efficiency rotating nozzles, drip irrigation, soil sensors, pressure regulation, and flow meters are just a few of the irrigation solutions that can help optimize the health of your landscape while minimizing water usage. 

Drip Systems

Inspect the drip system: Because drip systems are at ground level they can be prone to accidental damage by humans, or more direct damage from squirrels or other rodents. A nick from a shovel as you planted those new shrubs or a chewed line from an animal seeking water, can cause your drip system to fail. Turn it on and make sure the water is moving as it should. Don’t wait until you need to run and then find out you need repairs. 

Unless you have new planting, no need to start the irrigation system yet. Target a start of June 1 generally but it varies and sometimes it may just need to come on for a short period for a weird weather pattern.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your irrigation system is ready to keep your landscape healthy and vibrant as the weather warms up. 

If you prefer to have Landscape East & West conduct your annual spring inspection and maintenance, consider our Premium Water Management Service for homeowners. This program is available whether or not we installed your irrigation system. Our service includes a system inspection, test, adjustments, backflow testing, and reports, and additional items such as trimming back overgrowth to keep sprinkler heads clear, a mid-season system check and adjustment, and winterization.

Get your yard ready for summer by contacting Landscape East & West to service your irrigation system. Our highly trained technicians are CLIA-certified by the Irrigation Association and have years of experience in troubleshooting problems and finding the best way to meet your irrigation needs. We also have extensive knowledge of all irrigation brands and offer professional-grade parts to keep your irrigation system running for many years to come.