One of the most critical steps you can take to protect our water resources is to maintain a functional and healthy yard. A healthy, Florida-friendly yard will not only require less water and maintenance, but will also reduce the pollution that runs off from your property to our water supply. One of the ways you can maintain a healthy yard is to make sure you’re irrigating efficiently.
Most people don’t realize less water is actually better for your lawn, and watering twice a week is usually enough. Longer, less-frequent watering helps your lawn develop a dense root system that is better able to filter and absorb pollutants. It also helps it to become more drought resistant than a lawn that is accustomed to frequent, heavy watering.
Make sure sprinklers are watering your lawn and not the sidewalk.
How do you know when to water? Your grass will tell you! It’s time to water when you walk across your lawn and leave footprints, or if grass shows signs of distress such as bluish-gray color or folded leaf blades. Make sure to always follow at a minimum the Broward County water restrictions. During normal conditions, watering is limited for new and existing installations to the hours between 5 p.m and 9 a.m., seven days per week. Watering during these hours means more water goes to your landscape, and less water is lost to wind and evaporation. During water shortages, special water restrictions may be imposed. For instance, Phase I water restrictions restrict irrigation of established landscaping to the hours between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. New installations can be watered between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Watering is limited to Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays for those with home addresses ending with odd numbers (1,3,5,7,9) and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays for those with home addresses ending with even numbers (0,2,4,6,8) and those with no number. Be sure to check with your city to see if more stringent standards have been developed for your area.
Water your lawn to provide between ½ and ¾ inch of water. You can measure how long your irrigation system takes to provide this amount by placing empty tuna fish cans throughout your yard. Periodically check to see how much they are collecting and adjust the timing of the system accordingly. Do not leave your irrigation system on automatic unless you have installed an automatic rain shutoff device. Turn it on manually only when watering is needed, and never while it’s raining!
Check sprinkler heads twice a month to be sure they are in good working condition. Leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water each month. Also, make sure your sprinklers are aimed in the right direction — watering sidewalks and driveways is a waste. Plus, water that runs off these surfaces can carry fertilizers and pesticides from your yard to nearby water bodies.
Finally, find out about reclaimed water service in your area. Reclaimed water is domestic wastewater that has gone through extensive treatment and then put to use for irrigation, car washing, pressure washing, and other good uses. Reclaimed water still contains some nutrients and other chemicals, which makes it unfit for drinking but useful for non-potable purposes. Since reclaimed water is higher in nutrients, be sure to pay special attention to the operation of your irrigation system and ensure that overspray onto hard surfaces is avoided to reduce water quality impacts. Using reclaimed water for your lawn’s irrigation needs helps to preserve our supply of drinking water by removing this demand from our potable water system. To find out more about the availability of reclaimed water service in your area, check with Broward County water officials at (954) 831-0751 or the South Florida Water Management District at (561) 686-8800 or 1-800-432-2045 (Florida only). You can also contact the District on the Website.
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