Joel In The Garden

Ice storm damage may still lurk underground

Ice storm damage may still lurk underground »Play Video

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EUGENE, Ore. - With plenty of rain so far this month, you may not think of watering your lawn or garden.

But it’s important to test your underground sprinkler system after the winter.

Cleanup from this month's ice storm continues around Eugene and Springfield.

But there are other winter damages that may still be undiscovered.

“In about a month, when we start to warm up a little bit, we're definitely going to find a lot of breaks, broken backflows, things of that nature,” said Dean Wahrenbrock, an irrigation tech for Graham Landscape.

If your underground sprinkler system wasn't properly winterized, it may have suffered a break following a few nights of subzero temps.

If it has, you could face an issue with your ground water.

“A backflow helps to protect the public and homeowners and their families from nonpotable water contaminating potable water,” Wahrenbrock said.

Eugene Water and Electric Board ( requires Eugene residents with underground sprinkler systems to have backflow preventers and keep them in working order.

“You'd notice a break right off the bat because you'd have water shooting out everywhere,” Wahrenbrock said.

A break in your sprinkler line could either be a quick fix or a hefty bill, depending on the size of the break. But both Burt and Wahrenbrock agree, getting a contractor to come to your house will be easier now compared to April.

“Once things warm up, contractors get to be really busy,” said Michael Burt, who works for John Deere Landscapes in Eugene.

Even if there is no break, Burt said it's possible your sprinkler system may need some adjusting after a few cold months.

“The ground is always moving here in Eugene,” Wahrenbrock said. “So it's not uncommon for either the sprinklers to settle or the grass to grow up too tall.”

“Just go through it to make sure all the sprinklers are still in a good shape, they're pointed the way they're supposed to be pointed,” Burt said.

One job around the yard that you can tackle now before your grass and flowers need a bit more watering.

Most cities in Oregon require that homeowners with underground sprinkler systems have their backflow preventers tested once a year.