We have turned the corner on spring and heading into summer, trees and shrubs are in their annual growth spurt. It is one of my favorite times of year when all the plants leaf out, the lawn is green, and almost every plant is flowering. As the weather turns significantly warmer the sprinklers should be operating on a frequent schedule - not like July but at about 70% of what would be normal summer watering. One of the more numerous service requests we hear is when a zone or section of sprinklers is not operating as it should.
There is the possibility that the new growth from the trees and their roots are growing around the sprinkler system pipe and then squeezing it closed like a Boa Constrictor. It is a difficult repair because we either have to chop the tree root and a section of damaged pipe then replace it or reroute the pipe around the tree altogether. It is not an easy repair and a time consuming job, and if not repaired upon noticing then the tree root will eventually close off the pipe preventing the system from operating or break the pipe and cause a flood on your property. Some of the tell tale signs of "root choke" are:
1. Very large trees on the property that have been there many years. Maples usually are the worst trees to deal with because their roots are at the surface. Sweet Gum, Elm, and Locust are on the top of the list as well.
2. The sprinklers were working fine during the spring turn on but they aren't now. Again, big trees have big roots and when their branches are growing in May and June then their roots are also growing.
3. It's an older sprinkler system and trees were planted near the piping many years ago.
4. Half the sprinklers in the zone work well and the other half don't.
5. There is no leak in the zone and yet you are positive the zone is on and operating.
6. There are trees/shrubs visibly planted between the sprinklers and some sprinklers work and some don't.
Depending upon the size and type of pipe that is in the ground most repairs can be completed successfully. It is a myth that trees can sense the water in the pipe and grow to the pipe and surround it in order to get water. If there is sufficient moisture in the ground then the trees and all the other plants are happy. You can't underestimate the power of tree's and their roots. There are examples of their strength everywhere e.g. heaving sidewalks made of concrete, cracked foundations of buildings, trees growing in rocks and splitting them open. A good idea is to visually inspect your sprinkler system every other week checking to see that it is operating well. Please call 631.423.2211 or email us any questions you may have.