An irrigation checklist.

A great upsell to add to your lawn care service is checking the operation of a lawn care customer’s irrigation system. It’s fairly easy to do when you use an irrigation checklist. As we will see from this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, following certain procedures can ensure the customer’s irrigation system works optimally and allow you to maximize your profits.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I want to start offering additional services to my lawn care customers such as irrigation testing and repairs but I don’t know where to begin. How often should you check a customer’s irrigation system? What are some things you check for? Do I need to check the irrigation pipes at all?”

A second lawn care business owner wrote “I’m a licensed irrigator in my state. Here are some of the things I do to check irrigation systems.

These checks are performed anywhere from a monthly to quarterly basis.

The first thing you are going to check for is 100% coverage, the amount of water that is dropped on the turf and flower beds, and any over spray issues.

-Are any of the heads missing?
-Do any of the heads leak?
-Are any wires cut?
-Are lawn areas and landscape plants on separate zones?
-Are rotors and spray heads on separate zones?
-Are lawn and plant areas that require watering receiving it?
-Are pavement areas or plants that do not require water receiving it?
-Are the spray patterns free from obstructions?
-Are sprinklers covering at least 80 percent of the distance to adjacent sprinklers?
-Are sprinklers of similar make and model used in each zone?
-Do all the rotors or spray heads within a zone have the same flow rate?
-Do all the sprinklers rise up enough to provide adequate coverage?

I wouldn’t worry to much about the pipe lines. The irrigation lines should be installed anywhere from a depth of 6-12.” They should be buried deep enough in the ground that when you aerate they are not puncture. Most aerators penetrate the ground no more than 2-3″. Most of your problems will happen not from punctured lines but instead when the sprinkler heads are damaged by an aerator or mower blade.

Each time you visit a customer, you can make it a habit to turn on the sprinklers manually to check for broken heads the mowers damaged before you leave.

A few years back, when I had several workers using lawnmowers on unsupervised crews, I had problems when the mowers would hit sprinkler heads and break them. Nothing gets a customer angrier than when you damage their property, so I made it mandatory that after each mowing I or my workers were to check the lawn sprinklers by turning on the valve manually, to be sure there was no breakage. Amazingly enough, I didn’t know this at the time but I was charging customers for repairs my crews were breaking and not telling me about.

Another thing to check is know where your irrigation pipes are before digging to install new plants. Sure this is a lesson we all should know inside and out but here is what can happen when you don’t. I had a customer call and say he wanted 35 oleanders in 5 gallon containers planted along the front of his house. The job seemed easy enough to perform so I left one of my crews alone to do it.

When I came back a short time later to check on the job, they were all done in a very short time and I was very impressed! Later after they went home, I started wondering how they were able to perform the job so quickly.

So the next day, I went back to the job site and pulled up about 5 of the plants. To my surprise, there was an irrigation line running almost directly below the plants and so to make the plant fit, they cut the root size down to 1 gallon!

The entire job had to be redone because of the damage my crew did to the plants root system.

If you would like to download a pdf irrigation checklist to use at your jobsites, visit this link to the discussion on the Gopher Forum.”

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