Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lawn and Irrigation Myths…Busted!


Myth:  Turfgrass has no beneficial attributes in the landscape.
Facts:  Turfgrass moderates temperature, prevents soil erosion from wind and water, and provides recreational areas for outdoor activities.   

Myth Busted

Myth:  Water sensors on irrigation systems do not save water. These are mandated by Florida statute.
Facts:  Rain sensors save 10 to 15 percent water use during dry seasons and 20 to 35 percent during rainy conditions. 

Myth Busted

Myth:  Water restrictions by utilities prevent over irrigation.
Facts:  Although day-of-the-week water restrictions can reduce overall demand, overwatering on a given irrigation day continues.  People who have had inappropriate runtime habits or inefficient irrigation systems still have those problems.   

Myth Busted

Irrigation Myth Busters is the title of just one of the many UF/IFAS on-line training courses that can be accessed for free at here. Dr. Michael Dukes, Professor in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Interim Director of the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, developed this course based on his extensive irrigation research program.  

The Suwannee River Water Management District initiated new year-round irrigation plan throughout the 15-county region.  During Eastern Standard Time, outdoor irrigation can occur once per week.   
  • Residences with odd or no address numbers are assigned Saturday watering. 
  • Even number addresses may irrigate on Sunday.   
  • All non-residential properties including median strips, motels, businesses and public properties are allowed to irrigate on Tuesday.  Restrictions apply to water from utilities, private wells and surface water.
About 30 percent of all Florida public water use occurs between April and June.  Residential water use is responsible for well over half of the public water use. If each homeowner began to consciously improve irrigation scheduling during these heavy use months, what a difference we could make in water savings!!

As mentioned before, if overwatering is already a regular routine, watering restrictions won’t correct that habit. A conscious effort must be made to understand plant water needs, break habits, and adopt new practices. Visit Your Florida Lawn to find specific information on your grass species, watering tips, and other research-based information to improve the health of your lawn and Florida’s environment.

A few things to consider doing right away include installing micro irrigation in flower beds.  Hand watering and micro irrigation systems are not included in one-day restrictions.  No special tools are needed, systems are easily moved around as your plants are changed out, and every drop goes right to the root zone. 

If you have an automatic irrigation system, try turning it off and using manual control.  If the soil is still moist on your watering day from a recent rain, don’t water again.  It doesn’t help the plants any, but it does deplete our water supply.  You can still enjoy the cooling effects of the lawn and the backyard where the kids can run and play.  Learn how to water and fertilize for the health of the plants and our other natural resources.   

For more information contact
Nichelle Demorest, Horticulture Agent II


  1. This article is part of series written for the Lake City Reporter by Nichelle Demorest.

  2. Nice post Nichelle. In subsequent work with rain sensors "in the wild" so to speak we've found that their performance is so variable they really don't save water. We believe this may be due to lack of maintenance since these devices need maintenance at least annually.