With summer winding down and autumn quickly approaching, like a lot of homeowners or property managers, you’re probably thinking about getting your landscaping ready for the cold weather. If you have a sprinkler system, turning off that system is a crucial part of your cold-weather prep. Why? Because you don’t want cold water running through the pipes when the temperatures drop below freezing. If this happens, the entire irrigation system may sustain serious damages that could cost a fortune to repair or replace.

When Should You Turn Off Sprinkler System?

Did you recently move into a house that has an irrigation system installed? Or, did you have the system put in yourself and it’s your first season with it? Either way, you’re probably wondering when it’s the right time to turn off the system. Turning it off too early while the grass and plants are still growing could result in a dead landscape. Wait too long and the pipes and valves could crack and break when a cold snap moves in. This could result in needing a full system replacement.

So, when is the right time to turn off your irrigation system? Just before the first frost.

Winterizing a Sprinkler System

“Winterizing” is the term that is used to describe prepping an irrigation system for the cold weather months. A lot of homeowners assume that they should shut their sprinklers off right when the fall season arrives. However, usually, that’s a big mistake. A lawn needs to receive at least 1 inch of water per week until it’s in dormancy, and that won’t happen until a cold snap arrives. Unless your region receives adequate rainfall, shutting down the sprinklers while the lawn is still actively growing will result in a dried-out, dead, and unsightly landscape.

As mentioned, if you wait too long to turn off the system, you could end up doing serious damage. Excess water will get trapped within the system after each use, including in the pipes and the sprinkler heads. When the air temperature dips below freezing, the water trapped in the system will freeze. This can result in your entire irrigation system being seriously damaged. By turning it off just before the cold weather arrives, you can ensure that your lawn will receive the water it needs to thrive while also preventing the system from becoming damaged.

It’s important to note that cold weather arrives at different times in different regions. In the northeastern United States, for example, the cold weather arrives a lot sooner than it does in the southwest. As such, it’s crucial to research the weather patterns in your particular area so that you can plan accordingly. According to the National Weather Service Omaha/Valley Office, Oct. 14 is the average date for the first freeze in Omaha.

How to Winterize a Sprinkler System

Make sure you consult with the owner’s manual when you’re ready to winterize your sprinkler system. The manual will give you step-by-step instructions for your unique setup. With that said, an overview of the winterization process is as follows

  • Shut off the system’s controller
  • Turn off the water
  • Drain all above-ground irrigation components that water can get trapped in. An air compressor can help.
  • If there’s a drip line, use an air compressor to blow the water out of it.
  • Recap all system points after they’ve been drained to prevent debris from getting trapped in the lines.

Additional Reading: Nebraska Soil Temperatures

Pioneer Underground Lawn Sprinklers | Omaha’s Best Commercial & Residential Sprinkler Systems

Contact Pioneer Underground Lawn Sprinklers to schedule a free estimate on a system install or to find out what you can do to make your existing system more efficient. We welcome commercial and residential clients. And remember, whether you need our services now… or later in the season, Your Healthy Lawn is Our Passion and we are only a phone call away! Call 402-934-7900 to schedule your service.