The Water Conservation School provides information on how to utilize conservation landscaping, known as Floriscaping. In Florida, it means using drought and salt tolerant plants, which are native to Florida. Some examples include:
- Trees -- cabbage palm, crape myrtle, live oak, and southern magnolia.
- Annuals -- marigold, periwinkle, lantana, and geranium.
- Shrubs -- ligustrum, junipers, and American holly.
- Ground cover -- asparagus fern, aloe, day lilies, liriope and English ivy.
- Grasses -- St. Augustine, Bahia and Bermuda.
- Flowers -- plumbago, lantana, petunias, purslane, sunflowers and Christmas berries.
Less Frequent Watering for Longer
Times is Best
Irrigation can account for as much as 50-60 percent of all water usage. The best way to conserve and save money is to cut this consumption by planning a landscape that reduces thirsty turf grass, learning how to use less water for healthier grass and planting Florida native and drought tolerant shrubs and flowers.
Most lawns can be trained to need rain or irrigation
only once each week or two during the fall and winter months. During
the spring and summer, it may need more frequent irrigation, but
less times for longer periods is the proper way to irrigation.
Watering frequently for short duration encourages short root growth,
therefore unhealthy disease prone lawns. Having to grow deeper in
search of water is healthy for lawns. So once a week with ¾
inches of water is ideal for this root growth.
Not During the Heat of the Day
And, do not water your lawn during the hottest part of the day
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the heat of the day 65 percent of
the water you would use will evaporate and be wasted. Plus, water
droplets on plants during the hottest hours can cause the sun to
burn the leaves.
How Can I Tell?
When to irrigate can be determined two ways. These are by visual
and physical inspection and by direct measurement of soil moisture.
Visual and physical inspection - The most efficient way to water
your lawn is to irrigate it when it shows signs of stress from lack
of water. Visual signs of water stress include the lawn turning
a bluish gray color, footprints lingering after being made and grass
blades folding in half.
Direct measurement of soil moisture - One way to measure soil moisture
is with a soil moisture sensor. Sophisticated sensors will activate
your irrigation system when water is needed. The more basic soil
moisture sensors turn off your irrigation system when water is adequate.
How much water is enough?
For most Florida soils, an average of ¾ inches of water
a week is sufficient to replenish the grass. You can measure this
with tuna fish or other flat-bottom, wide-mouth cans. Place five
to seven of these throughout the irrigation zone to be operated.
Water until the depth of water in each can is ¾ inch. That's
how long that zone needs to be run once a week in summer and once
every two to three weeks during the dry months.
Other Watering Tips
- Water early in the morning. This reduces evaporation by the
hot sun and there is less wind during this time of day. Watering
early reduces the potential for disease development.
- Do not mow the lawn too short. This puts additional water stress
on the grass. Most St. Augustine and Bahia grasses should be mowed
to a minimum height of three inches.
- Avoid over fertilization. This requires more watering and mowing.
Native Florida Plants - Water Wise Plants
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Management Districts guide. (3,045KB)
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Water Usage Calculator
Links to Water
Management Districts for Watering Restrictions.