Skip a Week (or Two) of Watering this Winter

Skip a Week (or Two) of Watering this Winter

As we enter the heart of an El Nino winter, we can expect our temperatures to remain low and precipitation to remain high across the Tampa Bay region. This winter is a perfect time to take manual control of your sprinkler system and start to train your plants to need less water.

 

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National Weather Service outlook for precipitation probability, Feb-April

 

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National Weather Service outlook for temperature probability, Feb-April

According to research from the University of Florida, your landscape only needs water every 7-14 days depending on the microclimate of your landscape. When rainfall is adequate to meet watering needs, sprinkler systems should be turned off and run on an “as-needed” basis in compliance with local watering restrictions.

 

How do you know when your lawn needs water?

You’ll look for 30-50% of your grass to exhibit the following signs:

Leaf blades folded in half lengthwise in an attempt to conserve water.

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

When your grass is actively growing in the spring and summer, you would also look for the grass to turn a blue-gray tint.

 

How much water should you apply?

University of Florida research indicates that 1/2″-3/4″ of water should be applied each time you water. So that means in the winter you don’t want to reduce how much you are applying, but instead you want to increase the amount of time between waterings. Light, frequent watering is inefficient and encourages shallow root systems in plants.

 

What time of day should you water?

Early in the morning is best. Watering during the middle of the day wastes water due to evaporation and wind drift. Late afternoon and evening water may cause problems because 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

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/