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clean your lawn sprinklerPhoto: Getty Images

Don't let a clogged sprinkler keep your lush lawn from getting the nourishment it deserves.

An in-ground sprinkler system is an easy way to keep your water your lawn sufficiently and evenly in the hot, summer months. And an automatic irrigation system is worth the expense for homeowners want a hassle-free experience.

Over time, especially when unused, sprinkler heads can get clogged with dirt or debris (after all, they are down there in the soil). A clogged sprinkler is easy to identify: the spray will be uneven or completely clog the head from releasing any water at all. Sometimes, the sprinkler will just leak water, which will pool in the area surrounding the sprinkler.

Even if you don't see any of these problems, before you turn on the sprinklers for the first time each year, it's a good idea to clean them. Dirt can build up in three different areas of the sprinkler: the pipes, risers and nozzles.

Here's how you can identify where the clog is coming from and clean it so that you can get back to enjoying your lush, green lawn. (Note: This process involves removing the sprinkler head. If you're not sure how to do this, check with your sprinkler system manufacturer's manual or call the manufacturer.)

1. First, turn off the sprinkler system to avoid any accidents.

2. A sprinkler lives inside of a sleeve that's buried in the ground so that it can rise up when it's in use, and recess into the ground when it's not. Most sprinkler heads have tiny holes in them where the water comes out. Simply unscrew the sprinkler head from the sleeve and insert a thin wire (such as a paperclip) into each hole to remove any clogs -- the same as you'd do for your cooktop's clogged burners. You can also use the tip of a thin, sharp knife -- but be careful you don't cut yourself!

3. The head may also contain a filter. If so, flush the filter with water to clean it and remove the dirt.

4. Since you've removed the sprinkler head, you should also check inside the sleeve and remove any built-up grass or dirt inside.

5. Screw the sprinkler head back into place and turn the system back on. Run the system and walk around to each sprinkler head to see that they are all working properly.

6. If you are still noticing that the water is not spraying properly, it might be time to contact a professional to check your pipes and water pressure.

Final tip: Make sure that the grass surrounding the sprinkler has been cut back so that the sprinkler can rise up out of the ground easily and there isn't anything blocking the spray.

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