As the cooler weather sets in, grass and plants require less water than during our spring and summer months. Water loss due to transpiration and evaporation decreases as does the growth of the typical Florida landscape.
Some of the common grasses in a Florida landscape are: Bahia (the only drought tolerant grass designated by University of Florida), St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Bermuda. These grasses go dormant as temperatures decrease. Temperatures averaging 82 degrees or less keep these grasses in their dormant stage. Your grass may still remain green during this time.
So what does this mean for you as you continue to want to keep a beautiful lush Florida lawn? Simple. Practice wise water use. You don’t want to water inefficiently as this will matter come spring time. Overwatering stresses your lawn. First you should adjust your irrigation system to water one day a week. This will continue to keep the roots healthy receiving the needed nutrients for a nice return in the spring. A typical Florida grass needs approximately 1-inch of water per week to keep it healthy.
This is also a great time to go through your system to make sure there are no broken heads, emitters spraying sidewalks, driveways, your neighbor’s yard or possibly finding out that there is a hidden program on your controller that is costing you extra money and wasting water.
When spring returns you should always go back through your system and adjust the sprinklers, check for leaks, and make sure your programming is set for the change of weather. It will definitely be warmer and chances are you will need to go back to the 2 day a week schedule.
Checklist to go by for proper irrigation check:
1. Check controller for correct time, date, and day.
2. Manually turn on each zone: Check for proper pressure (low pressure could indicate a line break or a possible missing sprinkler head). Check for proper rotation for rotor sprinkler heads and adjust these to perform efficiently. You don’t want to be watering impervious surfaces like the road or sidewalk. Adjust fixed sprays in the same manner.
3. Replace heads that are overgrown with grass and cannot pop up to irrigate properly. St. Augustine should have 6 inch heads and sprays. Some of you probably had your system installed with 4 inch heads or sprays, if this is the case it would be better to replace these with 6 inch ones. This will definitely help with the overall appearance of your lawn.
4. Check and clean filters for all rotors and sprays. If you have Netafim (micro-irrigation), then clean this filter also.
5. Reprogram your controller for the necessary allowance of water per zone. Typically, rotors are set on average for 30 minutes and sprays are set for 15 minutes. Many of you also have the new Netafim, which usually waters on average of 45 minutes. This can be cut back as plants become established. Some Netafim zones can be completely cut off as they are irrigating Florida Friendly Plants.
6. Keep in mind plants have grown or in some cases have died off due to weather or disease. So areas might need different irrigation times depending on the situation. Adjust these areas as necessary.
7. Replace the battery backup on your controller. The battery backup does not operate the controller but keeps run times and start times in the controller in the event of a power outage. This will stop the system reverting back to a default setting.
Your Water Conservation Team at Toho Water Authority can assist and advise on your irrigation needs. We conduct Irrigation Evaluations in our service area. Please call us at 407-944-5121.