Landscape & Irrigation

October 2017

Landscape and Irrigation is read by decision makers throughout the landscape and irrigation markets — including contractors, landscape architects, professional grounds managers, and irrigation and water mgmt companies and reaches the entire spetrum.

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28 October 2017 Landscape and Irrigation IRRIGATION AND WATER MANAGEMENT BY RUSS JUNDT W hile winter seems far off, depending on where you live, temperatures are beginning to drop, which means it's time to start gearing up your business for winter. For some, that means switching out summer wardrobes for sweaters and long johns. But for irrigation contractors, it's a critical time to prepare your clients' irrigation systems for the freezing months ahead. Benefits of winterizing irrigation systems Not all homeowners are familiar with the winterizing process, so as landscape and irrigation professionals, it is important to educate customers on the benefits of the process. Winter is rough on irrigation systems, and if not properly prepared, pipes can freeze and burst, ruining the system and requiring expensive repairs. Therefore, this process is essential in preventing major damage and minimizing the risk of freeze damage, as well as conserving water, saving money, and analyzing maintenance and performance. The common phrase "failing to plan is planning to fail" definitely rings true when it comes to clearing underground pipes before the water inside freezes. Prevent damage, save money When an irrigation system is not prepped for winter, it becomes susceptible to pipe cracks or bursts — among many other issues — when it is time to reactivate systems in the springtime. When water freezes, it expands, causing significant damage, especially to the more susceptible PVC pipes. Damage to pipes means more costs for customers down the road, and may require digging up a large portion of their yard, leading to the added expense of replacing sod. Whether a system was not installed properly, hadn't been winterized before, or was winterized incorrectly, this is an opportunity to address these issues with your customers, proactively make recommendations, and plan for repairs in the spring. Depending on the type of system installed, different winterizing techniques can be used, but the "blow out" method is the best for ensuring all water is removed from the system. Even the smallest amount of water left in the system can lead to damage. This is something we often see with customers who have tried the do-it- yourself tactic of simply turning off their water. When using the blowout method, many times homeowners do not have a large enough compressor, or fail to run it long enough to evacuate all the water in the system. Winterizing is also beneficial for preventing water waste. If systems continue running during the winter months, several hundred gallons of water are potentially wasted, and can result in frozen roads and sidewalks. All in all, the winterizing process is vital in saving homeowners costs and headaches down the road. Annual maintenance Winterizing is also beneficial because it serves as an annual checkup. Technicians have the opportunity to perform a detailed inspection of systems, identify problem areas, and report findings, as well as solutions, to the client. This includes checking valves, pipes, sprinkler heads, electrical components and rotors. Ensure that your irrigation technicians walk through a detailed winterizing process to guarantee that irrigation systems are ready for winter's chill by turning off the water supply and controller; inspecting all sprinkler heads for leaks or damage; evacuating all water from the system; winterizing the vacuum breaker; and completing a thorough report for customers. Although some homeow ners are ver y knowledgeable about their systems, others may not be as aware of damage and needed repairs, so it's always good practice to explain the condition of their system in as understandable a way as possible. Customers will not only appreciate the guidance, it will help build up trust between homeowner and the technician. Manage demand As a critical annual task, it's important to have a plan in place for the influx of winterization jobs prior to the first freeze of the year. This includes ensuring you have enough technicians on staff to handle all the jobs, as well as taking into consideration the additional hours necessary to cover your region in a matter of weeks. Ty pically, the time of year w inter ization beg ins depends on the weather in the region. In northern states, the season begins toward the end of September and lasts through Preparing Your Business for Winter PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CONSERVA IRRIGATION

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