Smart Irrigation and Water Conservation in Winter

Irrigation system in the snow

As winter approaches and the weather gets cooler, less water evaporates from your lawn and soil. That means you don’t need to water your lawn as often. That can be a good thing, as many parts of Canada are prone to droughts, and water prices continue to rise. As water conservation becomes a growing priority in the Great White North, more Canadians are searching for ways to save water.

In this article, we’ll look at how you can use smart irrigation to save on water throughout the year and how to protect your irrigation system in the winter.

Ways to Save Water in Winter

Frost on lawn in backyard

The easiest way to save water in the winter is to lower your irrigation or to stop it altogether. As fall approaches and the weather cools, your lawn simply doesn’t need as much water as it does during the hot summer months. During cooler months, water your lawn just two or three times a week for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Always water in the morning or early afternoon so your soil dries by nightfall. This will help prevent fungal diseases from spreading on your lawn. (Fungus loves shade and moisture.)

When temperatures consistently drop below freezing, it’s time to stop irrigation altogether. Your lawn will enter a period of dormancy until the temperatures warm in the spring. During dormancy, your grass doesn’t need water.

Most parts of Canada, even the southern coastal cities of Vancouver and Halifax, experience freezing winters where irrigation simply isn’t needed.

Smart Irrigation Can Help You Save on Water

Smart irrigation system watering grass

It can be difficult to know exactly how much water your lawn needs throughout the year, especially as the weather can change quickly in the spring and fall. Rather than constantly tweaking your sprinkler schedule or wasting water by keeping the same schedule year-round, one of the best ways to save water is to invest in a smart irrigation system.

A smart irrigation system automatically adjusts your watering based on things like the current weather, your soil moisture, humidity, and the current temperature. The system includes soil moisture sensors, smart sprinklers, and a smart irrigation controller. You’ll also be able to monitor and control your entire system using an app.

Smart irrigation helps you avoid overwatering your lawn and wasting precious water. The system does require an upfront cost as well as time and effort to install, but it can eventually make back its money on water savings over time. You’ll also be contributing to water conservation in your community.

However, even a smart irrigation system requires care and protection, especially during the harsh winter months.

How to Winterize Your Smart Sprinkler System

You already know that leaving water in pipes in the winter is a bad idea. When the water freezes, it expands and can damage any pipe, hose, or container it’s in. The same goes for your smart irrigation system.

As temperatures begin to dip in late fall or early winter, it’s time to stop watering your lawn and winterize your system. Here’s how to do it.

Shut Off Your Water Supply

Person turning off water supply in the winter

Before you get the existing water out of your irrigation system, make sure no new water can come in. Close the valve on the main line. The valve is usually near your water metre. You’ll also want to close the two valves that prevent backflow.

Turn Off Your Timer

Irrigation control system

Open your smart irrigation app and pause your timer or turn off your system altogether. If you don’t have a smart system, you’ll need to manually turn off your system’s timer.

Drain the Water

Sprinkler system being drained for winter

The most important part of winterizing your irrigation system is to get out any excess water that is currently in your system. If this water freezes and expands, it can cause widespread damage to your expensive irrigation system. There are three main ways to flush your water main line.

Manual Draining

If your system lets you drain your system manually, you’ll find shut-off valves near the ends of your pipes or at low points in the piping. Slowly open the valves. Be very careful, as the water is under pressure and can come out swiftly. Keep the valves open to allow all the water to run out. When no more water is coming from the system, close the valves.

Automatic Draining

Some irrigation systems include flush valves, which will automatically open and drain water when you turn off the main line. Many irrigation systems don’t have automatic draining, so don’t assume your system does unless you know for sure. If you do have automatic draining, double-check that all the flush valves are working correctly.

Blow-Out Draining

In some cases, you’ll need to blow out the extra water in your irrigation system using an air compressor. The air compressor will send pressurized air through your system, forcing water out through your sprinklers. Be careful if doing this yourself. Some irrigation systems aren’t built for blow-out draining and can be damaged by this process. If you are using the blow-out method, make sure your air compressor can get up to at least 40 to 50 PSI of pressure.

Insulate Components

Keep your smart irrigation system safe by covering components like your smart irrigation controller, backflow preventers, and pipe components in insulation or foam covers.

Cover Your Smart Sprinklers

Place dome lids or caps over your ground rotor and spray heads.

Remove Batteries

Most irrigation controllers include backup batteries in case the power goes out. You’ll want to remove these batteries from the controller during winter and keep them indoors over the winter.

Drain and Disconnect Hoses

Frost on the garden tap

Remove all hoses connected to faucets and spigots on your property. Drain them of water. You can do this by elevating the hose so the water drains out using gravity. You can also use an air compressor on a low setting to force out the water.

Get Professional Help to Winterize Your Irrigation System

Winterizing your irrigation system can be a lot of work, and you may accidentally damage your system if you don’t do it right. If you don’t feel comfortable managing the process on your own, call in the experts.

The Grounds Guys® can safely and efficiently winterize your smart irrigation system. Our team can also evaluate your system and make sure it’s ready to go when spring arrives. Don’t have a smart irrigation system but are interested in water conservation? Our team can work with you to install a new smart system in the spring.

Our Neighbourly Done Right Promise™ sets us apart from other landscaping companies in the area. Give us a try, and we’ll help you conserve water while keeping your lawn beautiful and healthy. We are happy to offer you a free estimate.

Find your local The Grounds Guys team and request a free estimate today.