What Is the Impact of Snow & Ice on Your Lawn Irrigation System?

Have you ever considered what happens to your lawn in winter? Snow and ice can significantly affect both your lawn and irrigation system, especially if you live in Canada where our winters are pretty tough.

When it snows a lot, not only does it cover your whole lawn with snow but the water in your irrigation system can freeze and expand. This can damage its pipes and valves.

Winter is thus considered the off-season for irrigation. That’s when many homeowners think about buying an irrigation system to avail themselves of discounts or to avoid the (relative) rush when spring comes.

However, we recommend reading this post beforehand to learn what effects snow and ice have on lawn irrigation systems in Canada. This way you can take the necessary precautions to save it from the season’s bad weather.

The Effects of Snow and Ice on Your Irrigation System

From blocking the sprinkler heads to preventing them from functioning properly, there are a number of ways in which snow and ice can impact your irrigation system.

1. What Effect Does It Have on Irrigation Pipes?

Irrigation pipes can be damaged in a variety of ways by snow and ice. When pipes freeze, the water inside them expands, putting them at risk of breaking. This can lead to costly repairs and water loss. The system’s ability to work effectively may also be hampered by snow accumulation.

Additionally, it can be challenging to find leaks when the pipes are covered in snow, which can result in water loss and pipe damage.

To avoid these problems, it is crucial to adequately insulate and safeguard irrigation lines in areas with lots of snow and ice.

2. How They Can Damage the Sprinkler Heads

Accumulated snow and ice on sprinkler systems can damage sprinkler heads in several ways:

  • If water stays within the heads and freezes, it will cause them to expand and possibly burst. This can necessitate pricey repairs and replacement.
  • Sprinkler heads covered with snow or ice won’t be able to operate correctly, which could harm the internal parts of the head.
  • The nozzle may break. This can result in improper spraying when the sprinkler is turned back on in the spring.
  • Snow and ice can lead to a misaligned sprinkler assembly, which can reduce irrigation coverage and harm the sprinkler head.
  • The sprinkler’s supply line may also crack, which can result in no water coming out of the sprinkler.

3. How They Can Damage the Lawn

In certain circumstances, snow serves as a natural insulator, slows the evaporation of moisture from the soil, and aids in preserving soil moisture. When snow melts, the soil may also become more moist which is good for crops and plants.

But prolonged snow coverage directly contributes to snow mould disease. This is caused by the residual moisture left by melting snow and ice in areas of your lawn where these elements have accumulated.

Long periods of snow cover, regardless of species, increase the likelihood of severe turf damage. The effects of the damage depend on the severity of the snow coverage, the length of exposure, and the hardiness of the turf-grass species.

In the case of minor damage, the lawn will usually recover on its own, though light seeding can help. However, in cases of major damage, an aggressive combination of renovation practices such as slit seeding, topdressing, and core aeration is required to restore these areas.

How to Protect Your Lawn and Irrigation System in Winter

There are a few ways to ensure that both your lawn and irrigation system stay healthy this winter. Make sure to aerate your lawn before the next winter arrives and contact Green Valley Irrigation to winterize your sprinkler system. This will help keep your lawn and irrigation system safe during snowfalls.