FYN Principle #2 - Water Efficiently

Homeowners in some parts of Florida are becoming accustomed to restrictions that limit irrigation to certain days and times. Still, most of us are watering too much. Overwatering depletes our water supply, often makes plants pest prone and adds to stormwater runoff that pollutes our waters.

A sure way to reduce the need for watering is to choose drought-resistant plants, especially those native to your part of Florida, and plant them in the right spots. If you group plants according to their water (and light) needs, your irrigation methods and systems can be simplified. For example, turf irrigation zones should be separate from tree-and-shrubs zones.

By choosing and operating a watering system correctly you can reduce water bills, fungal diseases and maintenance requirements. Remember, the more you water, the faster the plants grow and the more your yard will need to be mowed and pruned.

Here are some tips:

  • If you have an automatic sprinkler system, install a rain shut off device or sensor that will override the system when adequate rain has fallen. Your Water Management District, Cooperative Extension Service, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service or an irrigation professional can provide technical assistance.
  • For best results, water in the early morning (4 a.m. - 7 a.m.). This is the most efficient time because temperature and wind speeds are at their lowest and evaporation is reduces. Also, grasses will be less susceptible to fungus if water is applied at the time dew normally forms.
  • Here is a simple watering schedule for grass: Apply a 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch of water when the grass shows signs of distress (bluish-gray color, folded leaf blades). Don't apply more water until symptoms reappear.
  • Water less in cooler months (November - March), and turn off automatic systems if rainfall is consistent.