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Irrigation in the Home Landscape

There are many reasons to properly irrigate the home landscape. Not only do we not want to waste this precious natural resource, but we want to be sure we apply the proper amount of water to keep our plants thriving!

It’s still the dry season in Florida, so how do we know when to water? We want to look for signs of wilting and stress, so the leaves might be hanging down instead of standing up and erect. The soil moisture will be very dry and may crumble. When it rains, since it is sporadic, the water runs off very quickly. Once the soil becomes more moist the water will drain better and flow into the soil towards the roots.

You might be asking- How long do I run the irrigation system? I just want to know how long to set it for! The truth is, all irrigation systems have different pressure and delivery mechanisms. For example, some people might have micro irrigation, rotors or pop up sprayers, or maybe a mix of all 3! So as I cannot give a specific amount of time, but I can tell you how to calibrate your system- it’s called the catch can method and it’s super easy. What you want to do is get several small cans, like the size of a tuna or cat food can, and place them around the yard throughout in the various zones. Turn on the system for 15 minutes and measure how much water is in the can- do this for each zone. The amount you are looking for is 1/2-3/4 inch. So if the system only has a quarter inch after 15 minutes you would want to run it for 30-45 minutes to reach the desired 1/2-3/4 of an inch. You can see how I can get a little complicated, but with a simple tuna can, and the magic number of 3/4 of an inch, you can make it very easy!

The target is 1/2-3/4 of an inch per application. To learn more about irrigation and how to do the catch can method, watch a video I made on YouTube here!

This time of year, during daylight savings time throughout the St. John’s River Water Management District we can water up to two times a week, but I do recommend residents take into consideration the amount of rain they get by using a rain gauge because over-watering, either from rain or irrigation can lead to problems in the landscape. I recommend that they don’t water between the hottest part of the day, 10am-5pm. And keep in mind that those Saint Johns River Water Management District restrictions do apply to private wells and pumps, ground or surface water and water from public and private utilities.

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