Hillsborough Extension Garden Blog

Solutions you can use for your gardening problems.

Daylight Savings Can Mean Water Savings Too! March 14, 2011

Daylight Savings Time means many things to many people. For me, it means losing an hour of perfectly good weekend and having to wake up when it’s still dark out. Sigh…

In the gardening world though, Daylight Savings Time — as a man-made construct — serves no real purpose, but can cause real problems for a homeowner. If you use an automatic controller to turn your irrigation system on and off at a designated time (or even if you don’t), you should keep reading.

The University of Florida IFAS recommends watering your lawn and landscape very early in the morning (when most self-respecting folks are still asleep). There are two

Water left on plant leaves overnight invite more problems into the landscape.

reasons for this. First, there is less wind at this time of the day, so you won’t lose as much water, thus increasing the efficiency of your efforts. Second, by the time the entire landscape has been watered, the sun will be coming up, so the excess water will evaporate, reducing the chance for problems like fungus and mildew to creep in.

There is a third reason to water early, though, and it’s tied to the rules of your local Water Management District (WMD). Here in Hillsborough County, Florida, we are under the jurisdiction of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). It regulates the water restrictions for the counties in their area based on rainfall patterns (past, present and forecasted) and other factors.

As of writing this blog today (March 14, 2011), the SWFWMD has declared a Phase I Water Shortage. In layman terms, this translates to the following:

Setting your irrigation timer is not difficult and can save you lots of headache in the long-run.

  • Lawn watering is limited to twice per week.
  • Lawn watering days and times are as follows unless your city or county has a different schedule or stricter hours in effect:
    • Even addresses may water on Thursday and/or Sunday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
    • Odd addresses may water on Wednesday and/or Saturday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
    • Locations without a discernible address, such as rights-of-way and other common areas inside a subdivision, may water on Tuesday and/or Friday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

Keep in mind that your local utilities can set watering restrictions that are more stringent than the WMDs, so check with them too to be sure you’re following the rules. The penalty for violating local water restrictions may include a hefty fine. For folks living in a SWFWMD county, go to this website for your local utility’s watering restrictions – http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/conservation/restrictions/.

So if you’re the type to “set-it-and-forget-it” when it comes to your irrigation controller, you may want to stroll into your garage this week and take 5 minutes to make some simple adjustments. This quick and painless addition to your spring “to-do” list may have several long-term benefits, not only for the health of your plants, but for your wallet too!

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