If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, you never have to worry about watering your grass. However, if you live in the Northern half of the U.S., you may have to worry about frozen and exploding pipes. Here are some tips on how to prepare your in-ground lawn sprinklers for the cold season ahead.
"Bleeding" the Pipes
Before it gets too cold, and preferably in early to mid-fall, it is a good idea to "bleed" your sprinkler system's pipes. To start, go into your basement and find the water control valve that feeds water into the sprinkler system. Turn it all the way off so that no water can enter the sprinkler's pipes at all. Now go outside and turn on the sprinkler system manually from your outdoor controls. The sprinklers should shoot out some water, but gradually trickle off and drip dry. When no more water drips out of the sprinkler heads, you have successfully bled the pipes.
Keep the Water Turned Off
Since you shut off the water control valve for the sprinklers in order to bleed the pipes, do not turn the valve back on, especially if you have an automated system. Keep the water turned off so no moisture or water enters the pipes and puts them at risk. Also turn off the automated system, if you have one, otherwise a lot of pressure could build up when the automated system attempts to pull water from the valve you shut off.
Cover the Sprinkler Heads with Insulated Cones/Domes
If you have sprinkler heads that stick straight up out of the ground and do not retract, cover them up for the winter. You can use any manner of insulated cones or domes you can find (e.g., styrofoam rosebush cones). Covering the exposed sprinkler heads will keep them from frigid temperatures that could otherwise damage them. The cones or domes also protect the sprinkler heads from heavy snow loads and/or accidental encounters with snowblowers, shovels and vehicles that drive and park where they should not.
Alternative Option: Warm Water Feed
If you have the money and want to make the switch, you could ask a home and garden expert (or plumber) to switch your sprinkler pipes over to warm water instead of cold water. Your grass in warmer months does not mind the temperature of the water so long as it is watered, so the difference in temperature will not affect your lawn. The change to warm water, however, does affect your winter preparations. You will not have to turn the water off that runs to your sprinkler system (unless you have an automated system and would prefer not to turn your yard into a melted snow and ice mess), and you do not have to keep the water turned off because the warm water in the pipes will not freeze or cause the pipes to explode.
For more information and tips on the proper care of lawn sprinklers, contact a local company like Krupske Sprinkler Systems.