With the end of the rainy season and the onset of Florida's long dry season it's a great time to take a look at your irrigation system and determine if everything is in order.
Below are some tips to help you make sure you are both providing enough water to keep your turn and landscape healthy and not using too much resulting in higher costs, unhealthy plants and breaking water restrictions.
What Time Of Day Is Your Irrigation System Running?
Make sure that your irrigation system is running only in the early morning, just before the sun comes up. When the season change that time will have to adjust as well. Running an irrigation system during the early morning hours when it's cooler will allow the water time to soak into the soil where it can be absorbed by the plants. If your sprinkler is running during the day the hot sun and warmer temps will evaporate as much as 60% of the water. If your sprinklers are running in the middle of the night, the prolonged time that the plants are covered with water can lead to mold, pests and other problems for your landscape. So make sure your system is only running in the early morning, shortly before the sun comes up.
How Much Water Should I Be Using During Irrigation?
Depending on your system, types of sprinklers, water pressure etc... your irrigation system will have to run for a different amount of time to provide the optimal amount of water for your landscape.
The soils in Sarasota and Manatee Counties is mostly comprised of sand with very little organic matter or clays, as such our soil is not great at retaining water for very long. However it usually takes just one half inch or so to hydrate the turf. This will allow -even the roots to be adequately watered. The turf should be allowed to dry out between waterings to encourage a deep root system. Just be sure to check with the local water restrictions for your area so you are compliant. Watering regulations can change depending on the drought level of your area through out the year.
How can I tell how much water my system is providing?
Knowing how much water you should be providing for each application does not help without knowing how long it takes your irrigation system to do the job. There is a simple test figure this out. Simply place cans or cups that are all the same size in each zone of your irrigation system. Placing more than one cup in each zone at different distances from the spray head to also measure if your irrigation zone is providing constant coverage through ought the zone.
After you have placed the cups, run the system for 15 minutes then take measurements from each cup to determine how much water has been used. From your measurements (the depth of water in each cup), you will be able to figure out how long to run the system. For instance, if the sprinklers filled the cups to an average depth of one quarter inch than running the system for a half hour should give you a half inch of irrigation.
How will the changing season effect the amount of irrigation needed?
The changing season will require your system be adjusted to keep optimal performance. Both the time that the system runs and the amount of water dispersed will need to be adjusted. Fortunately most modern irrigation systems are computer controlled and should run reasonably well throughout the year if installed and programmed correctly, and some even come with weather stations to adjust automatically for the weather.
However during each seasonal change you should check on your system to make sure nothing is amiss.
During the fall in the Sarasota area less irrigation is required. Our temperatures are generally in the mid 80s to upper 70s so evaporation is reduced somewhat. However regular irrigation is important during this time because with the cooler temps come a lot less rain, but be careful not over water or fungus and other plant pests can cause problems.
The spring can be the driest time of Florida with rain often not returning until the end of June. Early spring is usually the coolest time of the year but often temps will swing wildly between as low as the 30s in at night to over 80 in the day just 48 hours later. Keeping your system delivering just enough water at a regular interval during this time and again be careful not to over water.
Late spring early summer will be hotter and usually require irrigating twice a week to maintain a healthy lawn. Unfortunately this is also often a time of water restrictions so be sure you are not exceeding restrictions or you could be hit with a fine.
If you would rather leave the landscape irrigation to the professionals, contact Grants Gardens and we would be happy to help maintain your property at optimum water efficiency.