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UF Expert: Ten Ways To Cope With Landscape Drought

Serya Yesilcay

Bob Black, (352) 392-1835

GAINESVILLE — Although all plants require different amounts of water to survive, there are some general precautions homeowners can take to cope with draught, according to a University of Florida horticultural expert.

“Plants that have to contend with sandy soil and full sunlight during late spring and summer months are the most susceptible to drought injury,” said Robert Black, consumer horticultural specialist at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“But plant species, soil type, sun exposure and time of year all determine when and how much plants need to be watered,” he said.

“Also, when deciding it is time to irrigate, people need to make sure they are in accordance with local and regional water regulations,” Black said.

Black gave some tips on how to cope with drought in Florida yards and gardens:

  • Water early in the morning, when less water loss occurs from evaporation and wind drift because of cooler temperatures and less wind.
  • Irrigate deeply at long intervals rather than frequent, shallow waterings. Deep watering improves drought resistance by promoting deeper, more extensive root systems.
  • Adjust sprinklers to avoid spraying water on sidewalks and streets.
  • Extend the number of days or weeks between water applications to the longest suitable interval. Irrigate lawns only after 30 percent starts to wilt; water trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals after they start to wilt.
  • Mow less frequently. Mowing stresses grass by increasing respiration and reducing root growth.
  • Increase mowing height of lawns to allow plants to develop deeper root systems.
  • Keep lawn mower blades sharp — they make cleaner cuts that cause less water loss.
  • Control all weeds. Weeds use water that would otherwise be available for desirable plants.
  • Don’t fertilize — fertilizer promotes plant growth, increasing the need for water.
  • Use two- to three-inches of mulch on entire beds of shrubs, trees, annuals and perennials. Mulch reduces evaporation from soil and moderates soil temperature, reducing stress on roots.

For more on irrigation and other horticultural information, visit the UF/IFAS website at