Water Conservation in Your Landscape
Water is one of our most valued resources in Florida and across the world. Both water quality and quantity are affected by landscape irrigation, fertilization, and pest management practices. Despite having seemingly extensive water resources and high rainfall, our water resources are limited by the 19 million people who live here. FDEP estimates that by 2025, Florida’s population is expected to exceed 22 million residents. To meet this demand, Florida will need 9.1 billion gallons of fresh water per day, a 26% increase from today. As the demand continues to grow, water supply needs are already exceeding capacity in some areas of the state and future needs must be addressed by developing additional water supplies. Conservation and protection of existing water resources is an essential part of the solution. UF/IFAS Extension offers Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM programs to help residents protect water and natural resources through best management practices for landscape irrigation, fertilization, and pest control.
If you are like the rest of us, you may get concerned that your lawn and landscape is not getting enough water in times of drought. However, we can help you choose plants that are drought tolerant and need little to no supplemental water once they are established. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, check out the interactive yard planner and Florida-Friendly plant database at http://www.floridayards.org/
Overwatering is the #1 problem that we see in our plant clinic when evaluating plant diseases. Irrigation systems should be set to deliver no more than ½” to ¾” per watering once per week during the winter and twice per week in the spring and summer. Realize that most of your plant roots are in the top 12” of the soil surface and adding additional water leads to leaching and waste. Turf will show signs of stress when it needs to be irrigated, look for leaf blades folding up and a blue-green cast to the lawn. Other cultural practices that will help keep your landscape in optimum condition include mowing at the proper height, check irrigation system uniformity regularly, select the right plant for your site, do not over fertilize, and scout weekly for weed and pest problems. For more information about water conservation, visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/water/ or if you need help assessing your landscape call the Marion County Master Gardeners at 671-8400.