Irrigation maintenance checklist

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick April 16, 2021 09:27

Robert Jackson, water division sales manager at Reesink Turfcare, UK distributor for Toro irrigation, explores how an irrigation system can be maintained in a cost and time effective manner, ensuring it performs to an optimum level this spring and summer.

Effective irrigation is vital to have the healthiest grass and to positively affect playability, especially as we come out of winter and into warmer weather. Let’s not forget the unseasonably hot weather of last spring. April was the sunniest on record for the UK and warm and very dry too, so there really is no time like the present to make sure you know what’s going on beneath the playing surface.

Properly maintaining your irrigation system doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Identifying problems and taking control of your club’s irrigation maintenance will keep costs low and your system efficient.

Visual checks

It’s best to look at the overall performance of your irrigation system throughout the season on a weekly basis minimum, but this can be a big job and one often shared with the greens team contributing, checking the turf while they mow, taking pictures, and reporting back any issues.

The first signs that an irrigation system is experiencing problems are mainly visual – dry patches, soggy turf, run-off and areas of pooling.

Flushing the system

Flushing the system prevents clogging and reduces the accumulation of pollutants such as stagnant water, sand or soil. Flushing involves opening the valves in the mainline, sub-main line or laterals while under pressure. With the increase in water flow velocity pollutants are pushed out of the system. The system should be flushed at regular intervals and frequency depends on the water quality and the age of the system, but I’d certainly aim to do this at the start of spring after the cold weather ready for the new season.


Establish if you’ve got a leaking pipe by performing a pressure test on the mains. Switch everything off and pressurise the mains network to see how long the pressure lasts in the system. If there’s a leak, or serious fracture, you’ll see the pressure drop quickly. For those with a non-pressurised system, where sprinklers are not performing as well as you’d expect them to while the pumps are working flat-out, that’s indicative of a problem somewhere too.

If you have had a burst, once fixed, it’s important to flush that section of the pipework extensively to prevent any pollutants travelling through the system, potentially causing further blockages. Similarly if you have a new system, flushing before operating will eliminate any installation remnants and shavings from the pipework.

Irrigation wall mounted controllers

First of all check the displays. If incorrect information is showing, that could identify a recent power surge or outage, while no display at all indicates a problem with the wiring, or it could be as simple as a blown fuse.

You may have been alerted to an issue because the water cycle is repeating, the area is not watered, one zone does not function or there’s no water to one or all of the zones.


Your sprinkler system is only as good as its control valves, which is why they are often likened to the heart of the system. It’s important to check they are opening and closing properly as the controller activates and deactivates them. Problems such as opening slowly can be down to low pressure, debris or aging parts that need attention.


Checking spray patterns, adjusting the flow control at the valve and cleaning pop-up heads including dirty filters, will prevent sprinkler heads from sticking and ensure a smooth rotation, while checking the seals and rotation of the sprinkler risers will prevent water damage to the surrounding turf.

From not popping up to ‘sticking up’ after watering, flooding from the sprinkler or water not spraying from the nozzle properly, most of the causes are down to damage, clogging, missing parts or pressure problems. The solutions are usually straightforward once the issue is identified.

Being exposed as they are, sprinklers are subject to a great deal of wear and it is recommended they are serviced every year and any worn or damaged parts replaced. Remarkably the simple job of renewing an aged sprinkler nozzle alone can increase the efficiency of your system by up to 10 percent at the right pressure and flow. With minimal capital expenditure required to replace nozzles, this can be a highly cost-effective way of improving your system and is a job easily handled by the greens team within their day to day budgets.

Rotation flaws are likely an indication of debris in the sprinkler head, a pressure problem or an improperly adjusted flow-control valve. Damage or normal wear and tear could also be culprits.

How Reesink irrigation technical support can help you

An irrigation system is likely the biggest asset a club can own, apart from the land and bricks and mortar within, so taking care of that investment is really important. Support and training from Reesink’s Toro irrigation technicians can help golf clubs with everything from sprinkler maintenance to controller programming to give clubs peace of mind that their irrigation will continue to perform for years to come. JCB Golf and Country Club recently benefited from Reesink’s training and development following the installation of Toro’s Lynx Central Control and over 1000 Toro Infinity and T5 sprinklers over its 240 acres.

The installation was supported by Reesink providing expert training by Toro trained engineers, covering everything from sprinklers to controller training. Alongside this, Toro irrigation technicians made visits to the site every four to five weeks, supporting the contractor to ensure product satisfaction and that manufacturer guidelines were followed during installation. Detailed technical reports were provided throughout to keep track of the install and assistance with controller programming was also provided, giving the club complete peace of mind.

Rob Brinkley, irrigation technician at JCB Golf and Country Club explains: “I first started at JCB four years ago and was appointed as the irrigation technician for the club. I was excited to learn something new as I didn’t have any previous irrigation experience before, and it was the training I had from Cevan Edwards at Reesink that gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed.

“Cevan made several visits throughout the installation and after the system was fully operational, completely dedicating his time to my training as well as adapting to what I needed. He talked me through everything including how to use the computer system, how to test and find faults and how to carry out sprinkler maintenance. The whole experience was really positive, and I wouldn’t know half as much as I do now without him.”

Cevan Edwards, irrigation technical support at Reesink adds: “My role is to support Toro irrigation customers in whatever way they need, for as long as they have Toro. We believe it’s incredibly important to provide proper education on how to use and maintain Toro irrigation, as this means customers can ensure their system stays in the best possible shape so it performs better for longer. We are completely dedicated to providing as much support as needed, so customers can be sure they’re getting the best possible advice and training.”

With the irrigation system fundamental to growing in the turf on the new course, having additional support from Reesink made all the difference.

Rob explains: “We had absolutely no grass here when I started four years ago, and now the course looks amazing,” he says. “Toro irrigation is just superb. It’s easy to use and in particular the top access sprinklers are great – if we’re ever on a tight schedule and I need to carry out sprinkler maintenance, I can get so much more done in a day than if I’d had to dig the heads out. Plus it prevents damaging the turf.”

Course manager Callum Wark adds: “It’s also been great to see how Rob has developed his skills and knowledge with the help of Cevan. It’s a real testament to Rob and his commitment, but also to Cevan and the fantastic customer service that Reesink provides.”

With continuous support and training from Reesink’s Toro irrigation technicians, JCB Golf and Country Club now has real peace of mind that its irrigation system will continue to perform to an excellent standard for years to come. To find out how you can benefit too, call Reesink Turfcare on 01480 226800 or visit

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick April 16, 2021 09:27
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