Automated irrigation systems benefits and maintenance issues
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Automated Irrigation Systems: Benefits and Maintenance Issues. Dick Villamil, Ph.D. CEO, Aquarius Landscape Sprinklers. Do your fields ever look like this?. Do you re-seed the same areas every #^%&#%@ year?. Find yourself replanting expensive shrubs & gardens?.

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Automated Irrigation Systems:Benefits and Maintenance Issues

Dick Villamil, Ph.D.

CEO, Aquarius Landscape Sprinklers

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Maybe it’s time to install…(or optimize your use of)

Automatic landscape sprinklers!

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Keep repetitive labor to a minimum

Eliminate your reliance on Mother Nature

Reduce annual need for re-seeding

Key aims for grounds managers

  • Make the president’s house look good

  • Eye appeal for visitors, students, administration

  • Keep high-traffic areas from turning into mud

  • Minimize loss of landscape plantings

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Why automatic sprinklers can help

  • Consistent source of water

  • Protect grounds investment

  • Less labor by grounds staff

  • Protects plants from effects of variable weather

  • Customizable to your plant and turf needs

  • Increases effectiveness of fertilizer

  • One word: AUTOMATIC

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Even if you have an automatic system already…

  • Are you covering all your areas?

  • Are you optimizing timing and delivery?

  • Do you have consistent equipment?

  • Have you had a check-up recently?

  • Are you still having problem wet or dry areas?

  • Have you ever actually watched it working?

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What your fields could look like!

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What your grounds could look like!

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Key Irrigation Concepts:

  • Plant materials – sod, seed, trees or perennials

  • Soil Type – sand, clay

  • Drainage

  • Electrical needs and issues

  • Water supply – pressure vs. flow in gpm

  • Water quality – lake, pond, well or municipal

  • “Hardscape” issues

  • Sustainable maintenance

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Tools of the Trade

  • Controllers – are loaded with features

  • Lightning and surge protection

  • Multiple independent programs

  • Multiple start times

  • Ease of use

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Tools of the Trade

  • Valves offer many features at a low price

  • Pressure reducing

  • Flow control

  • Manual activation

  • Low amperage

  • Durable plastic body

  • Internal bleed

  • Dirty water compatible

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Tools of the Trade

  • Rotors have many interchangeable nozzles

  • One sprinkler for either full or part circle

  • Integrated check valve

  • Ease of service

  • High pop-up height – 5”

  • Long warranty

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Installation Strategies

  • Vibratory plow can install 2” pipe with no trench!

  • Flexible continuous poly pipe resists heaving

  • Install multi strand wire with pipe

  • Use non-corrosive clamps

  • PVC reduces restriction to flow

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Installation strategies

  • Install sleeving before pavement

  • Locate wire and pipe splices – use a digital camera

  • Install sprinklers and valves AFTER landscaping and BEFORE lawn planting

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Maintenance Issues

  • Refer to As-Built drawings BEFOREExcavating

    Planting trees

    Aerating lawns

    Installing tent stakes

    Staking roads for snow plowing

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Maintenance issues

  • Operate and test frequently

    Exercise valve diaphragms

    Check for broken sprinklers

    Check wiring integrity

    Change program to suit the weather

    Avoid the “Set it and Forget It” mentality

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Maintenance issues

  • Wires should be labeled

  • Install spare wires – just in case!

  • Install grounding rods to avoid electrical problems

  • Choose the proper wire gauge for length of run

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Maintenance issues

  • Clean around valve boxes before they are


  • Main line shutoff valves and wire splice boxes need to be located

  • Trim grass on a monthly


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Maintenance issues

  • Plan your water shutoff valves for convenient access

  • Winterization ports should be easily accessible

  • Emergency access may be important!

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Hydrozone strategy

Gardens vs. Lawn

Sunny vs. Shady areas

Rotors vs. Mist Spray

Slopes vs. level lawn

Drip for shrubs and perennials

Drip for disease susceptible perennials

Water conservation and Liability Issues

- Avoid spraying across public walks

- Use check valves to

avoid low head


- Adjust controller for

seasonal changes

Design for Efficiency

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Hydrozones – Drip for gardens, Rotors for lawns

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Hydrozones – Spray for gardens, rotors for lawns.

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Water Conservation – avoid watering walks and Liability Issues and roads

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Hydrozone – Drip for Gardens

  • Drip irrigation puts water at the roots where it is needed

  • Drip avoids wetting foliage inducing mildew

  • Drip conserves water

  • Drip prevents wetting fences and buildings

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Stuck valves – dirty water

Broken sprinkler riser

Rotors that don’t rotate

Wires cut by . . . . . . .

Properly winterized

Don’t just add sprinklers

add a new zone

Prune shrubs to avoid blocking sprinklers

Raise sprinklers as turf thickens

Monitor water quality

Specific Maintenance Issues

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Maintenance - Winterization

  • Winterize by using compressed air

  • Choose the proper compressor

  • CFM vs. pressure

  • Install drains in low points

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Irrigation Motto #1

Set it and Forget it.

You’ll never discover the problem until

there IS one!


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Irrigation Motto #2

  • The best fertilizer is the footstep of the farmer.

  • Run a test cycle often to check your irrigation system’s performance.

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Irrigation systems

  • Properly designed

  • Carefully installed

  • Regularly maintained

  • Selectively upgraded

    will result in the following . . . . . . . . . . .