Tips for a successful irrigation system winterization

September 14, 2023 -  By
(Photo: welcomia/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Photo: welcomia/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Winterizing irrigation systems means very different things depending upon the location of your business. Tony Graziani, service department manager for Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center, a full-service residential and commercial landscaping company in Southington, Conn., and Jon DeLisle, market vice president for LandCare in North Carolina, share their approach to this yearly task.

Graziani says while crews will begin blowouts in early October, his first step to winterization happens in January when he secures rentals for all the air compressors Winterberry will need to perform blowouts that fall.

“We try to start with the end in mind,” DeLisle says. “If we know our first frost date here in North Carolina — let’s just say it’s Nov. 15 — we want all of our lines winterized about a week before.”

DeLisle says this is a moving target each year, and it’s also not uncommon for crews to shut a system down only to turn it on again to support plant material when temperatures rise.


Following up on any issues a technician identifies while on clients’ properties is a key element in irrigation system blowouts or winterizations, both DeLisle and Graziani say.

Graziani says it’s easy for technicians to see blowouts as the end of a long irrigation season and rush through the service. He coaches his technicians to use this last visit of the year to help prevent major issues next spring and to give proactive service to Winterberry’s clients. He asks his technicians to rate each system.

“If it’s a 10, it’s perfect. If it’s a five, it needs some work,” Graziani says. “That helps us proactively approach the client. ‘Hey, while we were at your house blowing the system out, we noticed this, this, this and this.’”

These extra steps also help Winterberry secure extra work, all thanks to due diligence from the technician, he says.

“‘Here’s a quote in your hand for springtime, and we can get you on a schedule right away,’” he says he teaches his technicians to say.

DeLisle says transparent communication is a critical part of how LandCare manages the unpredictable nature of winter in North Carolina.

“It’s easy in that shuffle to forget if you drained a backflow to not open up the test cocks,” he says.

And then in the spring, crews would discover a component of the backflow preventer needs replacing following some water expansion over the winter.

LandCare uses a large board to indicate which clients’ systems technicians winterized and which a technician turned back on.

“I think it’s a simple and effective tool that everybody can see in real time,” he says.

Details matter

DeLisle says details matter, especially when technicians are on the go. He encourages all irrigation professionals to label any backflow preventer removed.

“If you’re putting 40 or 50 backflows into storage and you don’t have them clearly labeled as to the job site and location on the job site that they go to, the spring can be a little bit of a challenge to remember which backflow goes where,” he says. “In the past, we’ve said, ‘Oh gosh, these three backflows don’t have tags. Does anybody know where they go?’”

Graziani says keeping meticulous notes also helps crews understand which systems should be among the last for winterization. He says homes with a lawn installation the first week of September might not get winterized until the last week of October unless winter comes sooner in Connecticut.

“Some lawns that we put in in the fall; I want that lawn watered for as long as possible,” he says.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in From the Magazine, Irrigation+Water Management
Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at

1 Comment on "Tips for a successful irrigation system winterization"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. I’m in the landscaping business in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and we have similar issues. It can get pretty cold in the winter nights as it is a desert climate, so we need to winterize the irrigation systems, lawn maintenance, and the drainage. We prefer to stick with the blow-out method below 80 psi. We like to keep the lawns in between 2 to 2.5 inches in order to minimize disease spread during the winter time.