The Yard Butler

The 4 Essential Steps to Winterizing Your Sprinkler System

winterizing sprinkler system

Your lawn is not just a patch of grass outside of your house. Your lawn is part of your home. It’s a place for fun, like playing badminton or croquet. It can be where your kids or grandkids make memories running around in the sprinklers. It’s where you can have a romantic picnic or a thriving garden and a gazebo. It’s the perfect gathering place for parties, or a place to get away and have a moment to yourself. Your lawn is part of your home. If you want it to stay healthy and green, you’ll need to take care of it.


There are multiple components that work together to keep your lawn healthy. Some niche ways to keep your lawn green and in good shape are lawn aeration, soil care, and pest control. There are also obvious ways to keep your lawn healthy, such as daily or weekly watering. Watering your lawn is an important part of lawn care and something that most of us manage with a sprinkler system.


Your sprinklers are the lifeblood of your lawn. They keep your grass soft, green, and healthy. If you want your sprinklers to take care of your grass for years to come, you need to be sure to take care of them. Part of sprinkler care is irrigation winterization.


Yes, sprinklers are a type of irrigation system, even though they’re much smaller than the farm equipment you might be picturing. If you could just pull off the top of your lawn and peek into the dirt, you’d see a network of pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads that snake their way around your lawn or garden. When your sprinklers are on, water is pushed through this network and helps keep your lawn looking green and fresh. This means your sprinkler system is an irrigation system, and this means that it needs to be winterized.

What’s Winterization?

Even though it sounds intense, winterization is very simple. All winterization does is prepare your sprinkler system for winter weather conditions. As you probably know, southeast Idaho gets cold, with the weather sometimes falling into the negatives.  The last thing you want to be worried about during those cold months is if your sprinkler system will need to be replaced once the ground thaws. This is where winterization comes in. Irrigation winterization will protect the pipes and other components from cracking or breaking from the cold weather. This means that you’ll be able to enjoy your winter in peace and then start watering your lawn without hours of maintenance or replacement work in the spring.


Irrigation winterization is more than just something on your winter checklist. You want to save money and winterizing your sprinkler system can help you do just that. It will help prevent damage to the pipes and other components that make up your sprinkler systems. When water freezes, it expands. This means that if there’s still water left in your sprinkler system during the freezing months, the water will expand in the sprinkler pipes. This can cause cracks and breakage which can be difficult and expensive to fix.


Making sure to winterize your irrigation system will help your sprinkler system to last longer and perform better. When you don’t need to spend the time and money replacing a damaged irrigation system, spend that time and money doing things you actually like. Like spending time with your grandkids, or saving up for that trip to Cabo to get away from the cold. Or you’ll have extra cash to build that new outdoor patio you’ve been wanting.

How does Irrigation Winterization work?

The process to winterize your sprinkler system is simple if you have the right tools. If you don’t have all the tools necessary, doing some of the steps is better than doing none of them. Even the little things that you’re able to do will still help save your irrigation systems from winter damage. Irrigation winterization only has four steps: drain, compress, cover, and maintain.


  1. Proper winterization starts by draining the water out of the irrigation system. To do this, you’ll need to locate the main water supply and turn off the water to the system. The last thing you want to do is to go through this whole process and then do it all over again when your sprinklers go off in the morning. Watering your grass in the cold can also damage both your pipes and the grass, so don’t forget to turn off your water!
  2. Once that’s complete, you’ll want to open the drain valves on the system to allow any remaining water to drain out of the pipes. This is the water that will damage your pipes if it’s left there. If your sprinkler system has a backflow preventer, you’ll also want to remove it and store it in a safe place where it won’t sustain damage from the cold. You’ll also want to go around to all the sprinkler heads and remove them to let any excess water drain out. If you use any hoses, make sure to disconnect them to store them in a dry place. Once all the water is removed from the pipes, and all the components have been properly stored, you’re already saving money. Draining the water from the pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads will protect your system from freezing and cracking.
  3. If you have a high-pressure air compressor, you can choose to use it now to force any remaining water out of the irrigation system. This can be a delicate part of the process. If the air compressor isn’t turned up high enough, it won’t effectively get rid of the excess water. If the air compressor is turned up too high, it could internally damage the pipes, which isn’t particularly helpful either. However, with the right settings, forcing the remaining water out of the pipes can help further reduce the risk of damage from freezing temperatures. If you have questions about this part of the process, you can always contact us, and we’d be happy to offer our assistance.
  4. Everything we’ve done so far is going to be for nothing unless you complete the next step of the irrigation process. After all the water is drained and blown out of the pipes, you need to cover or remove any openings to the pipes. If you don’t cover the openings, ice and snow could make their way into your irrigation system and melt, filling your pipes with water again. If there is any part you can safely remove, you can do that now and store it somewhere dry over the winter. Removing some of these delicate components of your irrigation system can help ensure that they stay protected from damage caused by snow and ice. Please don’t forget this step, or you might end up needing to repeat this process again in a day or two.


Once you complete all four of these steps, you’ve properly winterized your irrigation system! At this point, you can brush off your hands, call it a day, and forget about your sprinkler system until the spring. However, if you want to take it one step further, inspect the sprinkler system and make any necessary repairs or maintenance before the next growing season. The perfect time to examine your system is while your pipes don’t have any water in them. You can make sure everything is working properly without any cracks or rust. By checking and replacing these components, you’ll be able to get a jump start on next year’s growing season. While other people are replacing broken components, or just realizing their sprinkler system needs some major repairs, your lawn will already be green and freshly watered. When you double-check your systems, you’ll be able to start your irrigation systems up right away in the spring.


These steps all work together to ensure that your irrigation or sprinkler system will be in good working condition when it’s time to start irrigating again in the spring. Proper winterization can help to prevent damage from freezing temperatures and expanding water. It can also help reduce the risk of costly spring repairs. If irrigation winterization sounds like something you want to do next winter, but don’t know how to start, we’re here to help. We’d love to give you a consultation and help you with this process in any way that we can. Just be sure to give us a call and we’ll make sure that your irrigation systems are properly winterized for the next hard freeze.


Your yard is an important part of your house and can be a place where people gather and have fun. If you want to take care of your lawn, you need to take care of your sprinkler system. The best way to take care of your sprinkler system is by preparing it for winter. Proper winterization can help lengthen your system’s longevity and make buying replacement parts a rare thing rather than a regular one. 


Remember that the irrigation winterization process can be broken down into four steps: turn off the water, drain, blow out, and cover/remove. If you want to take extra care of your sprinkler system, you’ll also need to make sure to inspect and replace any components of your lawn care that might have been damaged from the last year. When you take care of your sprinkler system, you’re taking care of yourself in the future!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to care for your yard now, check out our other blog posts or call us to talk with one of our highly qualified professionals.