JoAnne Skelly: Spring water chores

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It snowed six inches last night. This followed the four inches it snowed a day or so before. I’m grateful for the extra moisture for the trees, the lawn, all my plants and all the native trees. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I had been doing the water on/off, drag hoses, drain lines boogie for a number of weeks. This water-laden snow is a welcome, although temporary, reprieve.

One thing I noticed as I turned the irrigation lines on and off was where the broken sprinkler heads are. We did pretty well this year with only two heads that need replacing on the high-pressure system. However, there were a number of problems with the drip lines. So far, we don’t have to dig up broken underground lines. Fixing broken lines, replacing heads and drip parts is something all gardeners take care of in spring.

At our house, I provide the labor and my husband is the brains when it comes to irrigation repair. I dig the lines up and he fixes whatever is necessary. Although professionals always tell you to use all the same heads on a line, we have never followed that rule. We put in whichever ones cover the area best and keep the well pump on an even flow, rather than causing pressure surges.

I also noticed I need a new hose again. Some of the oldest ones have split and cracked. Every year I have to buy another 100-foot rubber hose to replace an ancient one. I prefer rubber hoses because they last longer and wind up more easily. I need a lot of hoses for outlying trees that aren’t on the automatic irrigation system or for supplementing areas with insufficient coverage. Ideally, I should put in drip systems to cover all these plants, but I’m afraid a part of me perversely enjoys dragging hoses around! We can’t really add any more high-pressure lines or heads because 50-year- old tree roots prevent any further trenching.

My husband and I are hoping to stay healthy during this pandemic and use our old timers’ isolation period to work in the yard (me) and work in the shop (him). As every gardener knows there is never a shortage of chores in tending a landscape or garden.

I hope you and yours stay healthy and sane during however long it takes for things to return to normal. I’m finding solace in the songs of redwing blackbirds.

JoAnne Skelly is associate professor and Extension educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at 


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