Irrigation Systems – Help Your Lawn Out!
By Alexander VanDorpe

“Crunch, crunch, crunch”… something you might hear while walking across your lawn in the middle of the Iowa summer.  Chances are, your lawn isn’t being watered – neither mother nature or you have put enough water on it for it to remain healthy and withstand the hot and dry weather.  There are two easy solutions – 1. You could train with a Native American and hope to perfect a traditional rain dance; 2.  You could hire a professional to install an irrigation system!

An irrigation system not only helps with your property’s visual appeal, but it also helps maintain turf health.  Dry summer heat will quite often damage your lawn, either by diseases, such as Summer Patch or Necrotic Ring Spot, or by general dormancy due to lack of water.  The cost to treat, repair and/or replace patches or even your entire lawn can be quite high, especially if you continue to do so year after year.  An irrigation system will more precisely utilize your water and you will also avoid standing for an hour in your yard holding a hose.  It will also prevent overwatering, which can lead to Rot and Mildew diseases.  It may make more financial sense (and take up MUCH less time and worry) to install an irrigation system – you could enjoy years of savings and a beautiful lawn with a small investment up front!

Easily customizable, irrigation systems are programed to put a specific amount of water down at a specific time and for a specific period of time.  This method is even better for your lawn than just waiting for rain to fall – in fact, short and infrequent watering from sporadic rain showers can fool your grass into thinking it is time to go dormant.  By carefully controlling the amount and timing of watering periods, your lawn will be encouraged to grow properly, as nature intended! 

To install an irrigation system, you will need to contact a certified and licensed professional.  Make sure they can provide you with proof a Backflow License.  This is a state requirement in Iowa.  “Backflow” is the term for an unwanted flow of water in the reverse direction.  It is essential to avoid backflow, as no homeowner wants water that is running under their yard to come back through their kitchen sink faucet!  An irrigation professional will install a backflow check valve by the side of your house and sometimes a second water meter (usually with a licensed plumber).  This second meter allows you to only pay for water to your yard and not the additional sewage and waste expenses you incur with your main water meter.

The installation of the irrigation system involves drilling (after calling your city for locates – 811 in Iowa) long, narrow trenches in your yard and pulling various sized pipes (and control wires) through them.  The purpose is to connect the water flow from the backflow check valve, to a valve box (opens and shuts off the water flow) and then to various types of sprinkler heads.  Then, wires are connected from the valve boxes (through the underground trenches) back to the control panel (clock), usually mounted on the side of your house or in your garage.  The standard control panel is relatively simple to understand and your professional should be happy to train you. 

After your irrigation system installation is complete, the only thing you need to worry about is how to find time to spend with all your family, friends and neighbors who want to come over and enjoy your lawn with you!