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Medford Water Commission

Medford Water Commission - 541.774.2430
Lawn Watering Infoline - October 24

Welcome to the lawn watering infoline. We have begun to receive rainfall in sufficient amounts, so irrigation is no longer necessary.  Local plants are going into dormancy, so their water needs are very low.   Therefore, this will be our final message for the year. In an effort to help save water, as you speak with your friends and neighbors, mention this infoline to them, especially if they are still running their sprinkler system. Additionally, if you see a sprinkler system running this winter, call us with the address and we will contact the property owner to remind them that winter irrigation is not needed in our climate.

Fall is the perfect time to fertilize the lawn before you turn off your sprinkler system for the winter. It is always best to use a slow release fertilizer to feed turf grass. Apply enough fertilizer to give the lawn one pound of actual nitrogen, the first number of the fertilizer formula on the fertilizer bag. If you need help understanding how much to apply, ask your local nursery or call us at
Following are some basic steps to help you winterize your sprinklers.
First, shut off the water source to your system. If you don’t have a shut-off valve to isolate your irrigation system from the household water supply, consider adding one. The valve of a backflow prevention device should not be used as the main shutoff, since these valves should be left partially open when winterizing so that they can drain.
Second, attempt to remove as much water as possible from your sprinklers. Pull and prop the risers up, which can be done with a special hold-up tool or you can wrap a rubber band around the riser. Another way is to briefly remove the cap and riser from the highest and lowest sprinklers in each irrigation zone to help water drain out.  If your property is sloped, you may have sprinklers with check valves in them, which require extra measures to help them drain. Instructions to assist you with this are on our web site at Winterizing Your Sprinkler System
Installing drains at low points can also be helpful.  However, if you do so, consider selecting manual drains, rather than automatic drains.  That way, you control when the system is drained, rather than it occurring after every irrigation cycle.
In addition, it is a good idea to protect any valves from freezing by insulating them, especially if they are above ground. Bubble wrap is good material to use.
Finally, some irrigation experts suggest disconnecting the common wire to the valves at the controller as part of a winterizing program.  This will assure that the irrigation system cannot activate accidentally, and it is easy to reconnect in the spring.
While taking these actions may not provide complete protection from freezing, they are worthwhile precautions to lessen the potential for freeze damage.  You may also wish to contact an irrigation professional about any winterizing services they may offer.

The Medford Water Commission offers Winterizing Your Sprinkler System, an overall guide to preparing your sprinkler system for the cold weather ahead. To request a mailed copy, call 541-774-2435.
For a guide to help you schedule your sprinkling, you can download our Sample Lawn Watering Schedule or call 541-774-2435 to have a copy mailed to you.

There is a wealth of information on conservation and landscaping on the website, which we hope you will find helpful. If you have any questions or comments, or would like more information, email us or call 541-774-2435.
Thank you for being mindful of your water use. Using these tips, we hope you’ll find that you can maintain a beautiful, healthy landscape while using water wisely.  

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