Tips for Water Conservation in Landscapes
A truly efficient way to use water in a yard is to design a landscape that exists predominantly on rainfall. Even with lawn and specialty gardens, it is possible to design it as a low-water, low-maintenance yard. However, even an ideal landscape can be over-watered. It is extremely important to only irrigate to meet the needs of the plants in that area. For example, a lawn in full sun will demand more frequent irrigation than an established plant bed of drought-tolerant shrubs and groundcovers.
Reduce stormwater runoff.
A timer will help eliminate this frequently occurring problem. Irrigation systems also can be metered and set to deliver a specified amount of water. New irrigation systems are facing increasing legal requirements to comply with water conservation measures. One frequent requirement is a rain shut-off device or sensor that will override the system if sufficient amounts of rain have fallen.
Check irrigation systems for leaks.
If water drips or leaks from a faucet after being turned off, it could mean that the washer is worn out and needs replacing or the faucet may be broken. The washer can be replaced by the maintenance staff.
The best time to water is during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speeds are at their lowest. Water evaporates quickly in the heat of the day. When it is windy, water may not reach targeted areas or may fall unevenly onto paved areas. If you cannot water in the early morning hours, the next best time to water is in the early evening.
Check local regulation for watering times.
Become familiar with the watering restrictions in your city or water district. Standard restrictions frequently include no irrigation between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. There may be additional restrictions, especially during drought conditions. Check with your local water management district and local utility for seasonal changes, and emergency regulations that can be put into effect rapidly.
Check soil before watering.
Before watering, check the soil below the surface. There may be moisture below the surface. There are tools (such as soil probes or soil sampling tubes) that can be used to obtain soil samples to check for moisture.
Water the lawn only when needed.
Signs that grass needs watering are: edges of the blades will begin to roll, fold or look wilted; grass will not spring back when you step on it; or the color changes from bright green to dull gray-green or blue.
Water thoroughly, slowly and less often.
Lawns should be watered so that the soil is moist to a depth of four to six inches. It is better to water your lawn thoroughly (so water reaches the root systems) once each week than to water it lightly each day. Watering lightly could actually harm your lawn because only the surface, rather than the roots, may be reached. Watering should be done slowly to avoid runoff. When the soil has high clay content, it will absorb water slowly. Sandy soil absorbs water quickly but won't retain moisture. Adding organic material will help correct these problems. Spread several inches of mulch, such as wood chips, pine straw or leaves. Shaping the mulch and soil around trees or other large plants into basins will help catch and retain water.
To learn more about water conservation specifically in Florida, visit the University of Florida