Selling Irrigation System Upgrades During Spring Startup

The Spring Irrigation System Startup is always a good time to sell upgrades to your customers. In 2023, Spring offers a better than usual opportunity since many commercial customers did not use all their snow removal budget this past winter. These accounts with unused funds may be more willing to invest, right now, in improvements to make their irrigation systems more efficient.

Now is the perfect time to develop your strategies on which upgrades to present to which customers. Do this based on your knowledge and experience with each account along with an understanding of their landscaping pain points. A simple way to categorize your potential upgrades is by Controller, Zone, Valve Box and Mainline. Below are some typical upgrade proposals in each category that will benefit most customers.

Think about each client and their specific systems and approach them with two or three of the most critical upgrades. The main benefits that a client gains by upgrading will always be water, labor and landscape maintenance savings, which is in addition to the enhanced curb appeal and knowledge of proactively conserving limited resources.


Any controller more than 8 – 10 years old is a candidate for replacement. Smart controller technology has advanced so much in that time that water and plant material savings are easy to justify. Smart controllers are managed through the cloud and operate on weather or soil moisture.

Wireless rain/freeze sensors offer benefits over the more common and less expensive wired rain sensors. Not being tethered to the controller by wires offers better mounting options when it comes to mounting the transmitter. Freeze sensing capability can protect your customer from potential liability earlier on and later in the season, when temperatures can drop to near freezing.


Reset to proper grade, level all sprays and rotors. This often is neglected over the years to the point where zones become very inefficient, resulting in longer runtimes and wasted water. Now is the time to propose this efficiency upgrade. At the same time, propose newer, more efficient nozzles that deliver better close-in watering and increased distribution uniformity.

Look carefully at the dynamic pressure of each zone. Heads are often over-pressurized, resulting in wasted water and poor coverage. Pressure regulating bodies or adding regulation to the zone valves is a simple upgrade.

All commercial landscapes change and mature over time. Your service techs can probably point to every rotor in front of a light pole or mature shrub and the resulting dry areas on the other side. Now is the perfect time to fix these issues.

Also propose fixing those zones that irrigate both landscape and turf. The original installation was probably done correctly, but the zones may not have been changed as the landscaping changed.

Valve Boxes

Valve boxes are often an eyesore and tripping hazard on mature properties. They may be sunken, have broken or missing lids or possibly buried over time. They should be reset to grade, on bricks, if necessary, with locking lids and proper drainage installed.

While in the valve boxes, replace existing splice kits on both conventional and decoder systems. Current and potential future electrical problems can be avoided, or at least minimized with this proactive approach.


Think about maintaining the irrigation system over the last several seasons. Have there been mainline breaks, causing the entire system to be shut down for extended periods? If so, isolation valves can be a solution, depending on the mainline layout. Closing an isolation valve can allow some, or most of the system to operate while a break is being repaired.

While proposing that new commercial controller, also propose a flow sensor. Sensors can shut down mains or laterals for excess flow, warn of low flow and record all flow to the cloud software. This is an excellent way to show water saving trends over time.

Clients are generally willing to pay for value-added upgrades and many have more funds available now to do so. Most don’t know what they don’t know; as an expert you can point out the issue, offer the solution and show the benefit. Need help? Contact your Central Turf account representative for assistance. We are here to help you grow and become more profitable.


About Dave Shane

Dave has more than three decades of experience in the irrigation industry in both distribution and manufacturing roles. He specializes in commercial project solutions with an emphasis on controls to meet complex requirements. He is an excellent resource for any technical questions about irrigation systems and finding the right solutions for efficient irrigation systems.