Does it seem like one or more of your sprinkler heads is missing? Sometimes sprinkler heads get stuck in the ground over the winter or buried under dirt after landscaping work has been completed in the yard. When you have a missing sprinkler head, your landscaping won’t get the water it needs. And the pressure from a back-up can harm the sprinkler. So, you need to find and free the sprinkler head. Here’s how to find a buried sprinkler head.

Check Your Irrigation System Map

When your irrigation professionals installed your sprinkler system, they left you with a map that shows the position of each of the heads and supply lines. Using this map and referencing the sprinkler heads that did pop up above the ground, you can usually locate the missing sprinkler head quite precisely. If you’re having trouble, add flags to the sprinkler heads with a label that you can match to the map.

Measure for Patterns

What if you don’t have a map? In a small, relatively consistent sprinkler system it may be possible to measure between the sprinkler heads and create your own map. Once you’re looking at the bigger pattern, it may be simple to spot where the sprinkler head should be.

However, this is more challenging in larger lots or those with complicated zoning and water needs. Large gaps between sprinkler heads may not indicate a missing sprinkler, just an area that needs less water. The missing head may be close to another head if it is in a zone of your yard that needs a lot of water. So, it may be harder to read these patterns unless you have your sprinkler technician helping you.

Landscape Health

Unfortunately, if your sprinkler head has been buried for some time, it may have impacted the health of your landscape. At least the dry, yellowed grass or wilted plants will help indicate where the missing sprinkler head is. Consider how far your sprinkler heads reach. Then, measure that distance out from your dead plants. Walk in a circle that distance from the plants. This is your search area.

Listen for the Sound of Water

Sometimes sound can lead you to the missing sprinkler head. First, turn on the sprinkler system. Then, walk around your greenspace, listening for the sound of trickling or rushing water underground. This can help you pinpoint the sprinkler head but do turn it off before you try to raise it out of the ground.

Use a Rake to Find it

If you have a general idea of where the sprinkler head may be, either from sound, dead plants, or a map, you can use a rake to try to find the exact spot where the sprinkler head has been buried. Drag a rake along the ground gently, so as not to damage the grass. You should feel or hear it when the rake collides with the sprinkler head. If you didn’t find anything, you might need to dig deeper with the rake—but be warned that it can damage your grass.

If you can’t find the sprinkler head, or you don’t want to waste your time looking, you can always reach out to the professionals. We can find your sprinkler head and fix it too.