Many Tampa Bay area residents have already experienced the benefits of water-wise gardening. Check out our Tampa Bay Community Water Wise Awards program to see some of their attractive and water-efficient yards. Restricting the use of turf to play and pet areas and filling in with drought-tolerant plants and bushes are the first steps to a water-thrifty yard. Some other water-friendly tips are:
Using the right irrigation techniques and technologies will go a long way toward saving water at home. The key is selecting the best sprinkler head for the job of effective watering which helps prevent watering the driveway or street.
Rotors apply water over a large area, so they are good for lawns, while rotary spray heads are better for small areas of grass and some landscape beds. Micro-irrigation, also known as “drip” or “low-volume” irrigation, is ideal for shrubs, flowers and potted plants. Because water goes directly to the root of the plant, there is less water loss from evaporation, wind and runoff, and fewer pests. For information on efficient micro-irrigation systems, see “A Guide to Micro-Irrigation for West Central Florida Landscapes”.
You will also want to adjust the timer for various zones to apply ½ to ¾ inch water per application. Generally, rotor zones should be set to 45 minutes an hour and spray heads to 20 to 30 minutes per application. These may be adjusted to ensure you apply the depth of water identified.
Your local home improvement stores carry different types of replacement sprinkler heads. Remember to replace broken heads with similar make and models of heads and spray patterns.
When installing or updating irrigation systems choose a contractor that understands water efficiency and uniform application of water per irrigation zone. We recommend visiting the University of Florida IFAS Extension website for guidance, and the Environmental Protection Agency website maintains a list of certified irrigation contractors.
If you are looking for a new home that is water efficient both indoors and outdoors, please visit Florida Water Star.
If you want to find out where specific programs are found that highlight outdoor efficiency visit the local office of UF’s Extension Service.
During Florida’s rainy seasons, homeowners can capture rain from gutters and store it in barrels or cisterns for future watering. In addition to saving potable water, reusing rain water reduces runoff, which can carry pollution into your local water system.
Below you will find classes and workshops for reusing rainwater on the University of Florida:
More on rain barrels and cisterns: