It’s Sprinkler Reset Time! 5 Easy Steps

We’d like to start this blog with the “Kids, don’t try this at home!” warning, but there are many capable Do-It-Yourselfers out there, and we can respect that. Your lush, USPGA-worthy lawn isn’t happening this year without the occasional irrigation assist, so it’s time to start prepping your sprinkler system.

Many of our clients ask us, “How do I know when it’s safe to reset my sprinkler system?” The typical answer is, once your lawn is frost-free 12 inches deep, but in middle Tennessee, our frost line is 15 inches to 18 inches deep, so you will be fine if you start this process now. Here are the actions you must take, broken down into 5 easy steps:

  1. First, remove the sprinkler head at the end of each irrigation line. If there’s anything in the line that shouldn’t be there, it will get flushed out right away, instead of popping off your sprinkler head like a bottle cap on the end of a pre-shakened Coke.
  2. Second, find your main sprinkler shut-off valve. This is typically located near the sprinkler control boxes. Insert the key and turn it back on slowly. If you don’t turn it on it slowly enough, your yard may quickly become a tourist attraction, resembling Yellowstone’s Old Faithful. (Also, this may not make you popular with the neighbors.) If you have what’s called a stop-and-waste valve (located in the ground), you will need a long, meter key to reach it, turning it 90 degrees in a counter-clockwise motion. It can leak a little at first, which is normal, but if it’s continually leaking, you have a problem. If you have what’s called a pressure vacuum breaker, these are located above ground and are turned on by turning the two ball valves on either side of the vacuum breaker valve. If the ball valve is parallel, it’s on. If it’s perpendicular, it’s off. You only need to give it a quarter turn to turn it on. Again, do so very slowly.
  3. Third, once your water is running, check to see if there are sprinkler line leaks. You can either turn the sprinkler valves on through the timer, or do it manually on every sprinkler, turning the screw on the side of the sprinkler valve. A word of warning: This can be painstakingly boring work, best done by a teen who’s eager to earn iTunes money.
  4. Fourth, spend some time letting things develop, and then inspect each of your sprinkler lines. Check the sprinkler patterns to see if the sprinkler heads are missing coverage on any areas of your lawn. If you notice water is bubbling up, you’ll need to dig up and repair leaky lines or broken sprinkler heads.
  5. Fifth, reset your lawn irrigation timer. There are YouTube videos teaching you how to set virtually any kind of timer. There are tons of smart phone lawn irrigation timer apps as well. You will want to reset your timer for every season. Your lawn needs less water in the spring and fall, and needs its thirst quenched more frequently in the dog days of summer.


Setting your timer leads into another topic—what is the best time to water your lawn, and how much should you water it? The general rule of thumb is 1.5 inches of water per week, whether derived from your irrigation system or from Mother Nature. A “smart” timer will automatically accommodate your weather patterns and water accordingly. If your lawn is new, it will need more irrigation at first than a lawn that’s taken root over many years. The types of grass you grow also affect how much water you need, so research that. You will want to avoid night irrigation to protect your lawn from disease. Ideally, your timer will be set to water your lawn an hour or two prior to sunrise. (Hopefully, you’re not a light sleeper! Now all you need is a rooster.) This early morning watering ensures the water doesn’t evaporate too quickly and wind speed is usually minimal at that time of day, which also affects evaporation.

If your eyes started glazing over after reading our first tip, it’s time to call in the experts—us—at 1-888-MY-ROSCOE.