Look at any map of Florida and what do you see? Water.
The Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean surround the state on three sides. Lakes like Istokpoga, George and Okeechobee — Florida’s biggest, and one of the largest in the country — are just a few of the more than 30,000 lakes in the state. And countless rivers, streams and waterways, numbering more than 11,000 miles in total, criss-cross the land from coast to coast.
But did you know that Florida actually has a water problem? Inconsistent weather and high water usage mean that water conservation needs to be top-of-mind for everyone — not just the big theme parks and golf courses, but homeowners, too.
Your lawn needs water, but it might not need as much as you think. If it could talk, here’s what it would say to keep you from wasting Nature’s most precious resource.
If you’re familiar with your local conservation program, you’ll know the rules: you’ve got a “day” on which you’re allowed to water your lawn, and your neighbor across the street has a different one.
But just because it’s your day doesn’t mean you need to be out there with the sprinkler and hose soaking your grass.
Your lawn actually needs a lot less water than you think — anywhere from half an inch to an inch or so per week, and even less than that when the weather gets cooler.
Here’s a great tip from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFMD) to determine how long to run your sprinklers:
Average it out, and do the math — if there’s an average of a quarter-inch in the cans, then you need to let the sprinkler go for 45 minutes to hit three-quarters of an inch of water.
Don’t forget the rain: the three-quarters of an inch benchmark includes whatever water falls from the sky.
Deep watering — done infrequently and to the right amount — encourages your lawn’s roots and will help keep it from withering during dry spells. (Good watering practices also have the added bonus of encouraging plant health.)
Over-watering can ruin your root depth, meaning that your grass and plants will be more vulnerable to disease, pests and drought.
Heat and wind work together to suck the moisture out of your lawn, so it’s important to keep an eye on both the clock and the Weather Channel.
With the sun beating down, the evaporation rate — the speed at which moisture in your lawn disappears into the air — can be more than 50% higher than it is in the early morning. If you can, it’s important to get the water onto your grass before the sun gets too high in the sky. (That may mean saving your watering until the weekend, as much as you might want to sleep in.)
Evaporation increases when it’s windy, too, so check the forecast before you get out there with the hose.
The number one thing your lawn wishes you knew? Like a rebellious teenager, it’s not going to stick to your schedule just because you say so.
In other words, don’t water your grass every Thursday just because it’s Thursday. Look to your lawn to let you know when it needs water. According to our friends at the SWFMD, your lawn needs watering when:
Using an irrigation system is one of the simplest ways to make sure your lawn gets watered properly. If you’d like some advice about installing one, contact us.