How to Turn on Sprinklers

Knowing when and how to revive your sprinklers is crucial to their upkeep. That means knowing when you should winterize your sprinklers, and when to turn them back on in springtime. As the seasons change, harsh elements may be out waiting to break your sprinklers and damage your pipes, but a little bit of care from a homeowner is enough to make sure your sprinkler systems stays alive and well to take care of your lawn for you.

If you’re a little lost, wondering how exactly to revive your sprinklers after a harsh winter, then refer to this guide below.


Below are a couple of tools that you should keep in hand to help you accomplish the task of breathing life back into your sprinkler system.

  • Shovel
  • Screwdriver
  • Sprinkler Adjustment Tool
  • Pliers

Gentle Reminders

Before you undertake the task of revitalizing your sprinkler system, be sure to keep the following in mind first.

Be wary of something we call “water hammers”. As fun as the mental image this invokes may be, water hammers are a pressure surge caused by a fluid that’s suddenly forced to stop or change direction, which in turn is likely to cause irreparable damage to your precious pipes. To avoid water hammers in your sprinkler system, turn the water on slowly and let the pipes take their sweet time with pressurizing.

Keeping the running theme of patience as a virtue, be sure to take your time with turning your sprinklers back on. There is no need to rush. If ever you are in a rush and you notice signs of decay in your lawn, then bust out the old hose and manually irrigate your lawn. It’s better to have to endure a few days of manual irrigation than to rush a spring startup and end up breaking your sprinkler system for good.

Spring Startup

Now that all those reminders have been cleared up, let’s get to the grit of it.

1. Dig Test

The dig test is as simple as its name. It’s a way of knowing whether your lawn is ready to have its sprinkler system turned on in the first place, and it’s done by taking a shovel and digging it into the soil. If you can’t go at least one foot into it, then the ground is still too frozen to jumpstart the sprinklers.

Do the dig test over and over until the soil has thawed over enough for your sprinklers to safely be returned to life.

2. Open the Valves

Locate your system’s shutoff valves and turn them back on. They’re usually located on the vacuum breaker in your basement. Otherwise, locate wherever your sprinkler system gets its water from.

Remember to take your time in doing this, to only slowly open the shutoff valves.

3. Maintenance

Once you’re finished with opening up your system and bringing water back into the pipes, your work isn’t over just yet. There’s still a couple of maintenance tasks that you need to do in order to evaluate how well your system survived the winter.

Check the valves for any possible leakages and damage. Observe the spray pattern of your sprinkler heads and adjust accordingly. In fact, some of the sprinkler heads may even need a bit of cleaning to get them to work back into tip-top shape. After a few days of hard work and calm observation, your sprinkler system should be back and running ready to preserve the lush green of your beautiful lawn.