Did you know that about 60% of home water usage is used to water landscapes? That is, 60% of our fresh drinking water is used to grow one of the world’s largest inedible crops! So how can you water your lawn and landscape and not waste our precious water?
One of the best things you can do to immediately save water and reduce your water bill is to turn your automatic irrigation system to OFF. That’s right, off! Yards watered with an automatic irrigation controller use almost double the amount of water compared to hand watering with a hose or garden sprinkler. Only water your lawn when your plants need it. A thirsty lawn will have grass blades folded in half and your footprints may stay imprinted rather than springing back. At most you should water no more than twice a week during the growing season between spring and early fall. During the summer rainy season you may not need to water at all, and in the winter months your lawn can go about 10 days between watering while it’s dormant.
Established plants, such as those large mature trees in your yard or the hedges that have been there for several years, typically don’t need irrigation except during periods of extreme drought. Cap irrigation heads if they’re not needed and make sure any sprinkler heads you do have running aren’t hiding behind a large shrub. To save water and reduce diseases, consider installing micro-irrigation in your flower and landscape beds. These can be easily installed and manipulated to fit your unique landscape design. Many companies have starter kits with easy to follow instructions and it’s fun to experiment with the different types of micro-irrigation emitters. For more information on micro-irrigation, call your local Extension Service at 352-671-8400 or visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ae524.