Tonight the weather forecast for Houston says high 20’s. While this is not going to be a prolonged hard freeze, you may still want to cover your tender perennials and sub-tropical plants. In addition you may want to turn off your irrigation system. The National weather service is a great source for accurate predictions. This is the currant message. Wind Advisory in effect from January 7, 12:00 PM CST until January 7, 06:00 PM CST Hazardous Weather Outlook is in effect
-Click here to see Houston forecast or put in your own zip code to see your area.
Here is a quick overview on how to turn off your sprinkler’s backflow device (pvb in this example) in photos.
The stream was very slight but lasted long enough for me to snap a photo. Releasing this water that was in the backflow device is important because if allowed to stay in there it might expand when it freezes and crack the device.
When both are open. Water is drained.
Re-close the check cocks and replace (if you have them) the nozzle covers.
Make sure that all of the above ground piping is insulated. Pipes buried in the ground don’t need extra insulation because they are insulated by the dirt. Most big box stores carry self-sticking insulating foam tape. This works well on pipes. You can also use the foam tubes but it take more time to cut and fit them. We do use them under our pier and beam house to protect our water pipes. You can leave the insulation intact year round but be sure to check it at the beginning of winter to see if it still in good shape.
Cover (wrap) the bronze valve. We like to use spare towels as they are handy.
The cut off valve would have been installed on any irrigation systems that is to code and put in within the past 5 years (in theory). It will be located between the service line (where the water goes into your house) and the backflow device. When we install systems we put it near the back flow to make it convenient.
Note the handle (red, but covered in mud). It is in line with the pipe (thus open).
It is also a good idea to have a rain/freeze sensor on your irrigation system so it will not try to water when it has rained or when temperatures are low enough to cause the water to turn to ice. If you do not have a rain or rain/freeze sensor on your irrigation system you will want to turn it off at the controller.
Remember to turn your valves and system back on when freeze is over. Even in the winter plants need regular watering. It takes longer for the ground to dry out so you can probably set the frequency to once a week. Each spring it is not uncommon for us to view properties and find lots of dead plants whose demise was blamed on the cold winter. These would be plants that would easily survive freezing temperatures. So we ask when we asked the last time they watered them? The response is “October or November, we turned the irrigation off because it is cold.” This was more common during the worst of the drought years. This year we have had weekly rain, which the plants prefer!
Here is a past post with helpful information on Protecting your plants during freezing weather.
Happy Winter! -Shawn Michael