Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ – Water efficiently
I’ve often heard people say, “It’s Florida. You can’t water too much.” Don’t believe it. Overwatering is a frequent problem here, one that leads to unwanted weeds and pests, wasted resources, and higher-than-necessary water bills.
“Water Efficiently” is one of the nine principles in the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ approach. It aligns closely to the “Right Plant, Right Place” principle, which encourages using plants suited to your specific landscape and, as a result, reduces water use.
And, in my role, I often see the need to reduce water use.
I conduct irrigation evaluations for Sarasota County residents on in-ground irrigation systems, one of the services provided free of charge by UF/IFAS Extension offices in each Florida county. I check for leaks and clogs, broken or damaged heads, calibrate the application rate, check for uniformity, find dry and wet areas, show you tricks for setting the timeclock, and teach you seasonal variations.One of the most frequent problems I encounter is – you guessed it – overwatering. That excess watering leads to soggy ground, which in turn promotes the growth of dollarweed and other weeds that only grow in wet areas. It also creates detrimental conditions for plants that may be stressed for other reasons.
These issues can be avoided with simple changes in irrigation practices. Start by watering only when needed, not just because it is your permitted day. Install a rain sensor – required by law – so your irrigation system doesn’t turn on when there is adequate rain. Make sure the water spray hits targeted areas, and isn’t aimed incorrectly, blocked by foliage, structures, or a damaged sprinkler head. And water longer, when possible, so that moisture reaches deeper into the soil and encourages roots to grow deeper.
If incentive doesn’t motivate, consider the flip side.
Sarasota County follows water restriction guidelines from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, with the County Commission setting allowable irrigation days. Some city governments also have their own restrictions and guidelines. It’s up to you, the homeowner, to know and follow these restrictions or face possible fines.
So, what’s your takeaway from this? That’s easy.
Remember that excess water in a landscape causes as many or more problems as not enough water. Overwatering depletes the limited water resources and contributes to pest and disease problems, especially in turf. In short, you simply pay more for no benefits when you overwater.
You can have a healthy, thriving landscape by throttling back on the water. Just “Water Efficiently,” and reap the benefits.
Our “Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Handbook” gives you more about the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ approach. And if you need further help, call us at 941-861-9900, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by our office at Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota.
Wilma Holley is the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program specialist for Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability. She has worked for UF/IFAS Extension for more than a decade, and previously worked in nurseries and other landscaping-related operations. Contact her at email@example.com or 941-861-9900.
Contact your local Extension office to learn more: