Social distancing matters — even with your sprinkler system

Homeowners can help sprinkler techs firing up systems amid COVID-19.

April 24, 2020 | By: Todd Hartman
As the weather warms, and we turn on our irrigation system, homeowners can take some steps to keep themselves and their techs safe in the COVID-19 era. Photo credit: Denver Water.

 

As sprinkler turn-on season fast approaches it’s a good time for Denver Water customers to consider how to protect both themselves and the techs who come to homes to help turn valves, test your system and set your irrigation timer.

This spring, amid ongoing challenges with coronavirus, techs visiting your home may ask homeowners to take on some of the tasks needed to start their system to reduce the risk of spreading illness.

“Consumers might be wondering if they can still activate their sprinkler system as usual this May,” said Cherie Courtade, spokeswoman for the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, which posted detailed guidance for homeowners who work with sprinkler pros. “The short answer is, ‘Probably, but with a few modifications.’”

Here are some things to keep in mind as you schedule your sprinkler turn-ons in May or June:

  • Techs will likely come to your home wearing protective gear, such as masks and gloves. Homeowners are encouraged to wear masks as well when interacting with techs.
  • Homeowners will likely be encouraged to turn on any sprinkler system valves located inside the home. If the homeowner does not know how to do this, techs can try to explain what to do. They may also show a video that can help.
  • The same applies to the irrigation timer. The parties can decide on the course they are most comfortable with. Timers are often located in the garage.
  • Opening the garage door ahead of the visit may allow the techs to enter with mask and gloves and hand sanitizer and perform the task. If not, techs can usually help homeowners understand how to set the timers via videos, with Facetime or other tools.
  • In many cases, companies will accept payment over the phone or online to avoid taking payments onsite. These modifications, like others, allow technicians to maintain proper social distancing of six feet or more.
A sprinkler tech dons a mask to assist a homeowner with sprinkler activation in southeast Denver April 23. Photo credit: Denver Water.

 

These actions amount to common sense precautions and are intended to protect both the techs and the homeowners, landscaping representatives said. The rest of the work associated with sprinkler activation can be conducted by the tech alone, without assistance of the property owner.

“We are trying to keep everyone as safe as possible,” said Amy Zink of Mile High Sprinkler.

One reminder, that has nothing to do with the coronavirus. As tempting as it may be to turn on your sprinkler as the weather warms, it’s not unusual to continue to see freezes up to Mother’s Day (and sometimes beyond). May 1 to May 15 is the earliest recommended window to activate your sprinkler system, Courtade said.

That said, now is the time to get on your landscape professional’s schedule. And be aware, Courtade said, that some companies have suspended their services for the health and safety of their staff and the community. Some have also donated nearly all their own PPE, including N95 masks, to local hospitals, and will need to replenish their own supplies. All of this means it may take more time than usual to get your annual activation scheduled.

In the meantime, Courtade gave this advice, applicable every spring: “Simply hand water your plants if needed instead of activating your system too early and risking damage in a freeze. Don’t water if you’ve had precipitation or if the soil is below 40 degrees. Overwatering or watering frozen ground can cause harm to your landscape.”

2 thoughts on “Social distancing matters — even with your sprinkler system”

    1. Hi Kirk,
      Our water system experts have seen some changes in water use due to COVID-19. The most noticeable change has been the reduction in commercial water use and increase in residential water use. Overall water use is about 9% below normal, although at least half of that drop is due to wet, cooler-than-normal April weather.

      You can read about water use changes in this TAP story.

      We also have enough water in our system to handle extra hand washings and other water needs for the 1.5 million people who rely on us daily. With a great snowpack this year, we expect our water storage reservoirs to fill.

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