Alex, I'll take sprinkler systems for $2900

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by dfor, Aug 28, 2004.

  1. dfor

    dfor LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 828

    We have had 6 inches of rain this month. Yet, I still see homeowners watering their lawns. GREEN grass being watered. It must be that when homeowners go and get a quote for irrigation, they get one price for the sysetm itself and "for another $100 we'll also give you a lobotomy." This really ticks me off. Save the damn water for a drought. How about you?
  2. allstar

    allstar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    Many people set the timer and forget about it.They water the same amount regardless of how much rainfall.
  3. dkeisala

    dkeisala LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 911

    I've always wondered why irrigation installers don't sell customers on a simple rain sensor, especially in damper climates.
  4. JFGLN

    JFGLN LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,023

    Most homeowners don't have any idea how their sprinkler system works.
  5. GrassBustersLawn

    GrassBustersLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 981

    I had a high end homeowner that bought & had a sprinkler system installed last year. EVERYTIME I went by their house, the sidewalk was wet. When I mowed the turf was usually SQUISHY. Finally, she developed DOLLAR SPOT disease in the grass. I asked her if she was watering EVERY DAY? She said "Hell yes, I paid $6,000 to have that installed, I'm sure as hell going to use it!"

    After I explained to her that she was OVERWATERING and that it would make her roots grow shallow, as well as leach out the fert & make her yard susceptible to diseases (such as DOLLAR SPOT), she finally went to watering only 2 days a week.

  6. kppurn

    kppurn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 426

    I tell you, I'm sick and tired of irrigated properties. I send out information on proper irrigation and people still over water. They water way too often and never bother to shut it off.

    Most people will probably think I'm crazy, but if I could drop all my irrigated properties for non-irrigated ones, I would do it in a heartbeat. Roughly 90% of the lawns I mow are irrigated. I would guess 70% of them are over watered. I'm mowing lawns that are soaked at 6:00 P.M. and I know they water again the next morning.
  7. khutch

    khutch LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 495

    I've got a client with 2 dead trees and another one dying and water lovin' sedges soaking up every drop from their over watering. I've seen her flower bed sprinklers come one for 5 minutes in 90 degree 3 PM heat. I asked her how often see waters, "Why everyday, it's hot!" Told her again, just like I did when picking up the account in March - "Once, maybe twice a week is all you need! Let's find out how long it takes to put down a 1/2 inch and we will go from there..." It's just too much trouble for them. If one inch off water is OK than 4 must be much better...Go figure.
  8. CJ GreenScapes

    CJ GreenScapes LawnSite Member
    from AL
    Messages: 249

    If you were able to change her attitude from that comment to only 2 days/week watering, you are da man. Need a job?

    Customer ignorance = job security for us!

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    I've been noticing some sort of disease or fungus in several of my customers lawns lately. Then it struck me, I ONLY SEE IT IN THE IRRIGATED LAWNS. Which would lead one to believe that watering habits are to blame. One of these customers tried to blame the disease on my "cutting too short. You're making the lawn brown out". So I mentioned that it was much more likely due to overwatering. He claims he doesn't water "that much". So I pointed out, up until the past week, we've had plenty, plenty, plenty of rain, no need to water AT ALL. But he still believes I'm making excuses.

    I've seen his system in action, maybe on for 10 min. per zone (he had it set incorrectly, was coming on at 5pm rather than 5am)

    I should point out that maybe only 10-15% of my lawns are irrigated. When I see a disease on 75% of these versus 0% of non-irrigated, you don't have to be a brain surgeon to pick up on this.
  10. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    A lot of interesting comments from this thread.

    From what I am reading, it seems to be a case of user error. "water every day" "water in the afternoon" "water when it is raining or has been raining for a long period" etc, etc.

    Whose fault is it? Must be the irrigator's fault, because he put the thing in the yard and obviously didn't take the time to show the owner how to run the system.

    As an irrigator for the past 20+ years, I am here to tell you that's not always the case.

    I take the time to go over the system operation with the owner, explaining the nuances of the system such as how to set the time for each station, the proper time to start watering, how to test the system, how to shut it off or adjust watering duration during wet or dry periods, etc, etc.

    Does it always stick in their minds? No. Some forget as soon as I drive off. Others disregard the information and use the hose sprinkler mentality and water during the day or early evening hours so they can see it working. And when it gets hot, they water even more because they are hot. The system runs during the rainy periods, because they don't bother to shut it off, and then when they do shut it off, they forget to turn it back on and guess whose fault it is that the lawn browns out after a week? It must be that damn irrigator. I can't tell you how many times I have been called out to a property because the grass is dying and when I check the controller the switch is in the 'off' position, or the unit is unplugged. That really chaps their fanny when I send them a service call invoice for 'fixing' that problem.

    Over watering is "Not The Fault Of The Irrigation System!!" and neither is under watering. It mostly boils down to the owner and their practices.

    Some one mentioned rain sensors. They work wonderfully. They shut the system off when it needs to be, they let it turn on after a proper amount of time and generally can save enough on the water bill after a couple of years to pay for it. But with the 'jake-leg' installed who continue to drive the price of irrigation installation into the ground, the first thing to go is the rain sensor when the bidding comes down to dollars. I mean $100.00 is $100.00 to everyone and the stock answer is, "I can shut the system off if it rains." But they don't.

    Many irrigators take the time properly install the system and educate the homeowner as to it's uses. But I feel that further education is needed to help them keep it running. And that is where a good LCO can step in and keep them educated, build a better relationship with the customer and make a little money with the added service of irrigation monitoring. Who knows that yard better than the LCO? You're there every week going over every inch of the yard and can see what needs to be done. If there is a wet area in the yard that wasn't there last week, let them know. Might be a broken lateral line or sprinkler riser or sprinkler head. If an area seems drier than the rest of the yard, let them know. Might be a defective valve, or a cut wire. If the yard is overall too dry, let them know.

    You could make irrigation maintenance part of your overall service. It takes 12 minutes to test a 12 zone irrigation system. Do a one minute cycle and walk the yard. Walk every zone, see every head. Charge them $3.00 per zone to check the system, any repairs are billed at an hourly rate plus parts. During this walk through, you can see if there are any heads that might be misaligned, or plugged, or (heaven forbid this should happen) cut off by a mower, edger, or trimmer.

    Now for some of my findings when checking a system after the LCO has been through the yard.

    1. Heads cut off. Not the whole head, just the flow stem and nozzle. Makes wonderful geysers.

    2. Heads knocked off (usually on the turn area where the ZTR spins around on top of a head. Then when the head is seen laying on the ground, it is quickly shoved back down in the hole to hide it.

    3. Valves shut off. Perhaps the system was running at the wrong time and the LCO crew found the valve and turned the flow control off, or even went to the backflow preventor and shut off the whole system. Not a prolem, just remember to turn the damn thing back on!

    4. Heads buried under 4" of new mulch. If the pop-up has a 4" stem, folks it ain't gonna make it to the surface.

    5. Shrub risers cut off by hedge trimmers. Never have figured out how one can cut off a copper riser and not know it happened. It makes a helluva noise when it goes through the cutters.

    6. Heads buried under new sod. I never have figured out what some people are thinking. On new installs I leave the marking flags out until after the sod is layed. Without fail, I have gone back and tested the system, and several heads are trying to push their way through the sod. When I cut it open, there is the little head, panting from all the work it was doing, and the marking flag is laying bent over and covered by the sod. People, those flags are to let one know there is something there, not targets for the landscapers.

    7. A valve or several valves don't work. Break out the old valve locator and lo' and behold, right where a new shrub or tree or a newly planted bed has been deep tilled, the wires are cut, folded back out of the way, and then covered up.

    8. Drip tubing cut in two or had a hole cut in it when planting or tilling and covered back up. Folks that brown plastic tubing or the black plastic tubing with the red or blue stripe on it is not a root!

    Well, that is just my take from an irrigator's view. Lighten up on the irrigator's.

    Jerry R

    ps. Just keep cutting those sprinkler heads off when you mow, edge or trim. I enjoy getting $65.00/hr plus parts to replace them and it puts beans on my table.

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