With areas of South Florida in the grip of a drought and water use restrictions in place, the conservation of water in the landscape is now even more important. The following tips will help you keep your water usage under control:
Efficient irrigation systems- Efficient irrigation systems apply water where it is needed, not where it will be wasted and benefit “weedy” species. The use of “moisture sensitive” irrigation system controllers can significantly reduce the amount of water used for landscapes. These types of controllers are most effective in larger scale projects. Irrigation systems that utilize “drip emitters” are also desirable because they use far less water than sprinkler heads. There are also new “water-wise” sprinklers and rotors on the market today that aid in water conservation. You should water in the morning when the plants are actively taking water. In the heat of the day, too much water is lost to evaporation. Watering at night is not advisable because the water will stay on the foliage longer and may result in fungal diseases.
Use of mulch- Mulch provides a cover for the soil, reducing evaporation, soil temperature, and erosion. It also limits weed growth and competition for water and other nutrients. There are many types of mulch available to the consumer today, including those made of wood products, stone, and even recycled rubber tires.
Appropriate turf- Limit turf areas to necessary and useful spaces and determine which grasses will best serve your needs. Some types of grass are more appropriate than others, depending on your yard. Contact me if you’d like help figuring this out!
Water-efficient plant material- Perhaps the most effective way to reduce water consumption in the landscape is to select plants that require less water to flourish. Typically plants that fit this description are native to the area. There is a comprehensive list of water-wise plants that thrive in the hot area landscape at www.miamidade.gov/planzone. Remove any invasive exotic plants that “steal” water from the native plants that you want to succeed.
Appropriate maintenance- All landscapes require some maintenance: pruning, removing rubbish blown into the landscape, occasional weeding, pest management, and checking mulch coverage. Maintenance of the irrigation system is also critical.
Outdoor use of available water for residential and industrial applications comprises 30% of total water use in the United States today. This number can be dramatically reduced if we just adhere to a few simple principles when developing outdoor spaces and gardens. You can make a difference… and save yourself a few bucks on your water bill at the same time!