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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

Automated Irrigation Systems:Benefits and Maintenance Issues

Dick Villamil, Ph.D.

CEO, Aquarius Landscape Sprinklers

key aims for grounds managers
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
why automatic sprinklers can help
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
even if you have an automatic system already
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?
key irrigation concepts
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
tools of the trade
Tools of the Trade
  • Controllers – are loaded with features
  • Lightning and surge protection
  • Multiple independent programs
  • Multiple start times
  • Ease of use
tools of the trade14
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
tools of the trade15
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
installation strategies
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
installation strategies17
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
maintenance issues
Maintenance Issues
  • Refer to As-Built drawings BEFOREExcavating

Planting trees

Aerating lawns

Installing tent stakes

Staking roads for snow plowing

maintenance issues20
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

maintenance issues21
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
maintenance issues22
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


maintenance issues23
Maintenance issues
  • Plan your water shutoff valves for convenient access
  • Winterization ports should be easily accessible
  • Emergency access may be important!
design for efficiency
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
hydrozone drip for gardens
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
specific maintenance issues
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
maintenance winterization
Maintenance - Winterization
  • Winterize by using compressed air
  • Choose the proper compressor
  • CFM vs. pressure
  • Install drains in low points
irrigation motto 1
Irrigation Motto #1

Set it and Forget it.

You’ll never discover the problem until

there IS one!


irrigation motto 2
Irrigation Motto #2
  • The best fertilizer is the footstep of the farmer.
  • Run a test cycle often to check your irrigation system’s performance.
irrigation systems
Irrigation systems
  • Properly designed
  • Carefully installed
  • Regularly maintained
  • Selectively upgraded

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