If you're a home gardener who's made the switch to DIY irrigation systems like drip irrigation and soaker hoses, you might have marveled at how simple those systems were to set up and how easy they are to modify. But along with that easy modification comes the need to check on the system constantly, especially after heavy rains or a severe storm. Ignoring the system after a storm could harm your plants and soil.
Hail can damage anything it hits—even leaves that you'd think the hail would just push out of the way. The Missouri Botanical Garden has pictures of leaves that have been torn up by hail, including the edges of the leaves, which you would think would bend out of the way. If a larger hailstone hits a soaker hose or drip hose, it could cause the hose to jump a bit off target. Unfortunately, that would result in water dripping into the wrong area of the soil. The plants wouldn't get the water they needed, and nutrients could be washed out of the soil if the misdirected drip continued unabated.
Another risk is that the hail would tear the pipe, creating a worse misdirection of water. Plants further down the line from the rip could be deprived of all their intended water. If the plants are drought-tolerant, that might not harm them that much, but that also means you wouldn't have much of a clue that anything was wrong just by glancing at the plants.
Chances are if lightning strikes near your home, you'll be aware of it. Either you'll see it, or your neighbors will tell you. But damage isn't always limited to just the spot where the lightning struck. Check any timers and fuses you have attached to the irrigation system once the danger passes. Even a nearby strike can make equipment act loopy.
Heavy or Prolonged Rains
You don't need an actual landslide in your yard to have soil shift and wash away in heavy rains—having just the topsoil move can often send drip and soaker hose lines off course. When the rain stops, look up and down the length of the lines to ensure the emitters and holes are lined up with the correct plants and at the correct points in your garden.
If you're not sure you're up to the job of inspecting an irrigation system after a storm, contact an irrigation repair company (such as Davidson's Landscape Service, Inc.). They can inspect the entire system from the exterior faucet on your home to the plant bases themselves to ensure that everything is lined up and working correctly.