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broken lawn sprinkler
A malfunctioning sprinkler

Checking Reticulation

Our reticulation system works hard for us, keeping our lawns and gardens in good health, watering in only the amounts and places we specify. All with very little effort on our part.

When we rely on our lawn reticulation systems to work for us throughout the year, it is important to maintain the system with a few simple checks to ensure it continues to do its job in maintaining the beauty of our homes in our lawns and gardens.

The Lawn Reticulation Control Box

Firstly, lets look at the reticulation control box, there's very little that needs to be done here, and checking it once a year is usually suffice, unless a problem occurs of course.

Check to make sure the cover works properly, and closes to protect the electronics from sun or water damage.

Check that the wires are not loose. Though this is not possible on all types and brands of reticulation boxes.

Finally and most importantly, replace the battery once a year. The battery keeps all programming information inside the control box whenever electricity is lost during blackouts. If not regularly replaced, an ageing battery will begin to leak its contents into the control box, possibly leading to permanent damage of the unit.

Fixing Damaged Sprinklers

Lawn sprinklers sit under the ground exposed to the soil. For this reason, soil can often enter the sprinkler, blocking its flow pattern, or seizing it from easily popping up and down as required.

Turn on the reticulation, and walk slowly around the area being watered, taking note of any sprinklers not rising properly, and not spraying properly.

These sprinklers must now be removed by unscrewing them from the riser below.


Most lawn sprinklers can be easily dismantled, do this carefully one at a time, taking note of how the internal parts fit together. Most heads can also be easily unscrewed, so it is important to do this too. This may sound complicated, but it really isn't.

The parts of the dismantled sprinkler can now be washed under running water, cleaning out any sand or grit.

Put the sprinkler back together again, and pull up on the pop-up spraying section, if it pulls up easily, and springs back down easily, the sprinkler should now be repaired.

Return it to it's place in the reticulation system.

Test again.

If the sprinkler fails to work, as all sprinklers will over time - then it’s best to replace the lawn sprinkler with a new one.

Lawn Sprinkler Surrounds

To slow down dirt and grit entering into sprinklers, and to ensure easy action of the unit popping up and down. It can be a good idea to install ‘sprinkler surrounds’ around sprinklers.

They are easily installed by cutting away the lawn, and removing some soil from around the sprinkler, and inserting the ‘surround’. Any excess soil between the sprinkler and the Surround should be removed. The Sprinkler Surround should be flush with the top of the lawn.

Depth Of Lawn Sprinkler

A very important point is to have lawn sprinklers set at the correct height, if they are too high, they are at risk of damage from people or lawn mowers, or risk injury to people tripping over them.

Sprinklers sitting just 1 centimetre above the lawn are too high.

Sprinklers should sit just below flush, when the lawn is depressed. This means a person should be able to step on the lawn around the sprinkler, and NOT feel the hardness of the sprinkler on the soul of their shoe.

This is even more important when lawns are mowed with cylinder lawn mowers, when a large roller rolls on top of the lawn during their cutting action. These machines cut at lower heights than other mowers, and often weigh around 200 kgs. Meaning they are not forgiving whatsoever to any sprinkler which rises even just a little above where they should be.

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