Although Florida is nearly surrounded by water, it’s pricey to water your Orlando lawn. (As Coleridge once said, “Water, water everywhere…”) Here are six lawn watering tips that’ll help you keep your Orlando grass healthy and your water bill down.
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6 Tips for Watering Your Orlando Lawn
1. Waste No Water
Lawns need only about three-fourths of an inch of water during one watering session, according to the University of Florida (UF). “Additional irrigation is unnecessary and wasteful,” the St. Johns Water Management District (SJRWMD) says.
According to a 2015 study published by UF, 64 percent of the drinking water used by homes in Orange County goes to irrigation. That figure rises to 88 percent during the summer.
2. Measure It
To save water outdoors, figure out how long you should water to achieve one-half to three-quarters inch of water. Put empty tuna cans or measuring cups around the yard, all within range of your sprinkler. Turn on the sprinkler for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, gauge the amount of water that’s in each can or cup.
- If the containers collected three-fourths of an inch of water, then you need to water them for 30 minutes.
- If the containers have more or less than three-fourths of an inch of water, do the math to reach the three-fourths target.
3. Pick the Right Height
Regarding the height of your warm-season grass, taller tends to be better. “The higher the grass, the more extensive the root system becomes,” UF says. Mowing higher makes the grass healthier.
Grass with deeper roots is more drought-resistant than grass with shallow roots and needs less water. If the grass is extremely short, too much energy will go into growing new blades of grass, and not enough will reach the root system.
4. Rise and Shine! It’s Watering Time
To maximize water usage and minimize disease, UF suggests watering your lawn early in the morning. This usually means before 10 a.m.
“Watering during the day wastes water to excessive evaporation. [In addition,] Watering in the late afternoon or late morning may be detrimental if it extends the time the lawn is naturally wet from dew. This extended “dew period” can accelerate disease occurrence.”
5. Monitor the Sprinklers
Some Florida counties have licensed irrigation system installers but not others. Therefore, your irrigation system might be inefficient or ineffective, UF warns. No matter the condition of your system, check it regularly for clogs, damage, leaks, or other problems.
The most common causes of damage to sprinkler heads are lawnmowers, aerators, vehicles, and mechanical issues. Reduce the danger to your sprinkler heads by installing them at the proper height.
6. Ditch the St. Augustine
St. Augustine grass is a water hog. Try Empire Zoysia Grass as an alternative. It’s more drought-tolerant than St. Augustine and needs about half as much water. Bahiagrass is another good choice.
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Orange County Watering Guidelines
When it comes to watering your lawn in the Orlando, FL area, timing is everything.
For example, Orange County, the area’s most populated county, limits how often you water.
- Eastern Standard Time (first Sunday in November until the second Sunday in March): One day a week
- Daylight Saving Time (second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November): Two days a week.
Watering is never allowed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Only water for one hour in each zone of your lawn. Other communities in the Orlando area have similar restrictions.
The SJRWMD says, “Healthy Florida lawns require no more than two days per week of water during the hot, dry season — less during rainy periods — and no more than one day a week during cooler weather.”
FAQ: Watering Your Orlando Lawn
Applying half-an-inch to three-quarters of an inch of water each time you water is sufficient for most lawns in Florida. It is important to soak the root zone and allow the soil to dry to promote strong, healthy grass.
The morning, before 10 a.m., is the best time to water your lawn since it’s cooler and usually less windy. It allows your soil and grass time to absorb the water before it can evaporate.
Two days a week is the average, but it depends on the type of grass, shade, time of year, soil type, and where you are in the state.
UF IFAS recommends homeowners wait until they see that their lawn needs watering. Watch for these indications: bluish-gray turf, bent grass blades, or visible footprints left on your lawn.
Set up an appointment with a local Orlando lawn care specialist today to have the backyard ready for your next barbecue.