Common irrigation issues and how to fix them

If you’ve noticed pools of water in your garden or dry patches of lawn, you may have a problem with your irrigation system. Here’s what you need to check:


If your sprinkler is spouting water at odd angles or the area around it is soggy, chances are something is broken. To fix the issue, check the following:

  • Has dirt clogged your sprinkler head?
  • Are you using the correct water pressure required for your sprinkler? PGP or MP rotators require different pressures to operate.

Other sprinkler tips:

  • Use a tap timer to keep runtimes short and so you don’t waste any water by forgetting to turn them off.
  • Avoid watering in the heat of the day and when it is windy.
  • Assess how many sprinklers you need and adjust the arc of your sprinkler to make sure all areas of your garden are reached. This ensures there are no dry spots and water isn’t wasted on walls, paths or roads.
  • Match your sprinkler heads to ensure an accurate and uniform distribution of water is achieved.


Ageing pipes and splits in pipes are common irrigation issues.

  • Blockages, especially after wet season when ants or sediment can build up in the pipes, are common. Be sure to flush out your irrigation once every couple of weeks in the wet to keep pipes clear.
  • Are you using quality products? Keep in mind that poly or PVC pipes can last 30+ years.
  • Are you using the right pipe size? Generally pipes for residential homes need to be 25mm in diameter. In rural houses, water has further to go, so generally a larger pipe diameter is required.
  • Pipes with higher densities, thicker walls and high UV ratings tend to last longer. It’s worth making the investment, particularly when taking the Darwin climate into account.


Drippers are by far the most efficient way to water your garden, but only when they work correctly. Be sure to keep an eye on them to check:

  • They haven’t popped off or exploded - this can happen if water pressure is too high
  • The rubber hasn’t perished
  • There are no blockages - flush your system every couple of weeks to prevent this from happening.

Other dripper system tips:

  • Flow regulating drippers will ensure the correct flow rate is being applied. Unregulated drippers can waste water and release in excess of 40 litres per hour.
  • Don’t purchase the wrong dripper for your water pressure.


If you see water trickling out of your sprinkler even though that station is off, chances are you have a blocked solenoid valve.

  • Check for debris or sediment stuck inside the valve - this is the most common issue.
  • If you see a pool of water around the valve, it could be broken. Note, the pool of water could be due to a broken pipe, so be sure to check both before replacing any parts.

Irrigation timers and controllers

Every water wise garden needs an irrigation timer, whether it’s a manual timer or a fully automatic system run by an irrigation controller.

  • Ensure it is set correctly to avoid overwatering and potentially save thousands of litres of water. Manuals for most timers are available on the internet.
  • You may find that installing an automatic irrigation system will pay for itself in a relatively short period of time.

Other points to consider:

  • Irrigation system not turning on? Check you haven’t got a flat battery.
  • Has there been a storm? Lightning strikes can burn out underground wiring.
  • If there’s low pressure, check that you aren’t watering at peak times. Peak times are generally from 5pm to midnight (when people come home from work and use their water).
  • Invest in a smart controller for your irrigation system. Smart controllers can link with weather systems to water your garden as and when it needs it. They are particularly handy for when you go on holiday - you needn’t get a house sitter to water once your system is automated.