Skip a Week of Irrigation

Fall is in the air. Can you feel it?

Your grass certainly can.

According to research by the University of Florida, when temperatures begin to drop, your grass doesn’t need as much water. Surprisingly, during the cooler months in central Florida, St. Augustinegrass only needs water every 7-14 days depending on the microclimate of your landscape. When rainfall is adequate to meet grass needs, irrigation systems should be turned off and operated on an “as-needed” basis in compliance with local watering restrictions.

Fall is an excellent time to decrease the amount of water you supply to your grass. This helps to  “train” your yard to need less water. Providing less water encourages deeper root growth, which in turn makes plants more drought tolerant.

 

So how do you know when irrigation is needed?

The signs to look for are:

Leaf blades folded in half lengthwise in an attempt to conserve water (Figure 1)

Grass takes on a blue-gray tint rather than maintaining a green color

Footprints or tire tracks remain visible on the grass long after they are made.

LeafBladesHalf

Leaf blades folded in half to conserve water. Credit: Laurie Trenholm

 

How much water should you apply?

Research from the University of Florida indicates that you should apply ½”- ¾” of water every time you irrigate. So in the winter you aren’t going to reduce the amount of water you apply during an irrigation event, but rather you are going to run your irrigation system less often. Light, frequent watering is inefficient and encourages shallow root systems.

 

What time of day should you water?

Early in the morning is best. Watering during the middle of the day wastes water to evaporation and wind drift. Watering in the late afternoon may be detrimental if it extends the time the lawn is naturally wet from dew which can lead to more disease occurrence.

 

For more information about Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ practices, contact Brian Niemann at bniemann@pinellascounty.org.

 

References:

Trenholm, L.E., Unruh, J.B., Cisar, J.L. (2013). Watering Your Florida Lawn (ENH9). Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved October 20, 2014, from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh025