Water-Saving Irrigation Methods
Save the lagoon by curbing your water waste.
Nationally, landscape irrigation makes up one-third of all residential water use, which adds up to 9 billion gallons per day. Surprisingly, 50 percent of that landscape water gets wasted due to inefficient watering systems.1
Excess water that flows off of your property can contain a variety of pollutants, including fertilizers, car oil, grass clippings, and pet waste. It can then flow down storm drains and, eventually, make its way into waterways, such as the lagoon. These materials can be harmful to the lagoon and the aquatic life who live there. Fertilizer, for example, typically contains phosphorus and nitrogen, which fuels excessive algae-growth. This “nutrient pollution” can smother natural vegetation, deplete oxygen, and result in fish kills.
Follow these water-saving irrigation methods to help the lagoon — and put money back in your pocket.
ADJUST SPRINKLERS BEFORE & DURING RAINSTORMS.
Have you ever left for work and noticed that your sprinklers were going off while it was raining? (It happens to the best of us.) Fortunately, it’s also an easy fix. Rain sensors will temporarily pause your irrigation schedule when they detect a certain amount of rainfall. Best of all, they’re simple to install.
By utilizing a rain sensor system, you can reduce your water costs — and runoff that adds pollutants to the lagoon.
INSTALL A RAIN BARREL.
Did you know that a 100-square-foot roof can produce 60 gallons of water during the first inch of rainfall?2
The first few minutes of rainfall are typically the most polluting. It can produce large quantities of stormwater that run down roofs, driveways and roadways — collecting fertilizers, car oil, grass clippings, and pet waste and introducing them to waterways.
These pollutants eventually make their way down storm drains and into bodies of water, such as the lagoon.
Rain barrels can collect this water through a simple connection. Most garden centers have them available for purchase — or you could even make one of your own! Local workshops are sometimes offered to teach participants to make their own 55-gallon rain barrels. You might also be able to get your favorite local artist to paint sea turtles or a beach scene on it.
GROW FLORIDA-FRIENDLY PLANTS.
Florida-friendly plants don’t require fertilizer and require less pesticides than lawns, as they’ve already adapted to the local climate and soil conditions. They also require less water and help to reduce water runoff and flooding. The deep root systems of certain Florida-friendly plants can also increase the soil’s capacity to store water.3
For residents, that all amounts to two big benefits: Florida-friendly plants are typically easy and affordable to maintain.
How do you select the right plants for your specific location?
Start with “The Florida Friendly LandscapingTM Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design” and cross-check your plant picks with your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office. It can provide free, research-based information to help you get the most from your gardening and landscaping efforts.
KNOW WHEN & HOW LONG TO WATER YOUR LAWN.
To avoid overwatering your lawn, follow the St. Johns River Water Management District watering restrictions below.4 Consider setting a calendar event on your phone so that you remember to change the watering frequency at the start of each new season.
In addition to thinking about when to water your lawn, it’s important to think about how much water to use. Plants typically require less water during cooler weather, when their growth has slowed and water evaporates less quickly. You might also turn off the controller during the summer, when afternoon rainstorms are prevalent, or install a rain sensor.
As a general guide, water before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., approximately 20 minutes per zone. You can find more tips on how to calibrate your system for the right amount of water on the UF/IFAS’ gardening solutions site.
By following this schedule, you can save money and prevent unnecessary stormwater runoff.4 If you are on reclaimed water, follow the schedule set by your water provider.
- Spring/summer: Wednesday and Saturday
- Fall/winter: Saturday only
- Spring/summer: Thursday and Sunday
- Fall/winter: Sunday only
Time of day
- Before 10 a.m.
- After 4 p.m.
REDUCE TURF AREA.
The less turf grass you have, the less fertilizer you’ll need. Reducing fertilizer usage can help to protect the lagoon from algae-feeding nutrients that can negatively impact the ecosystem and result in fish kills.
How can you reduce turf grass?
You might consider garden beds that can be maintained with no irrigation or drip irrigation (water delivered to plants beneath the ground). Mulching flower beds are another low-maintenance option — and there are a variety of ways to do this without removing trees.
TEST YOUR SPRINKLER SYSTEM.
Have you ever seen what looks like a geyser in your lawn or neighborhood? Sprinkler heads can easily get knocked down by feet or lawnmowers, causing water to spurt out erratically. Make sure to test your sprinkler system before letting it run a full cycle. This helps to ensure you’re watering your lawn — not your sidewalk or street.
Excess water aids in spreading harmful pollutants to the lagoon, too.
Once a month, set a calendar reminder on your phone to test your sprinkler system and replace any missing, malfunctioning or broken sprinkler heads. It will save you money — and help to protect our waterways.
Why This Matters to All of Us
Who doesn’t want to save water — and save the lagoon at the same time? A little planning can go a long way to conserve water usage and runoff outside.
You’ll be doing your part to keep the greater community beautiful, not just for your generation, but for future ones, too.
BECOME LAGOON LOYAL
Earn local discounts for making lawncare choices that conserve water and prevent runoff. Sign up to become Lagoon Loyal and get rewarded for helping the Lagoon!
Let’s Be Clear…Excess Irrigation FAQs
Overwatering can actually be harmful to your lawn or garden. Make sure to know which months to water less, such as during the summer when it rains nearly every afternoon. Follow the St. Johns River Water Management District watering restrictions to make sure you’re not over-irrigating.
These tips can actually save you money — and time. By installing a rain sensor, you won’t have to remember to turn off your sprinklers before upcoming rainstorms. The sensors will take care of that for you — and save you from spending money on watering your lawn when it’s not necessary.
Additionally, incorporating native plants into your landscape can save you money and maintenance. They don’t require fertilizer and require less pesticides and water than your lawn.
It’s a win-win for you — and the lagoon.
1 “Outdoor Water Use in the United States,” epa.gov, United States Environmental Protection Agency, https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/www3/watersense/pubs/outdoor.html.
2 “Rain Barrel Workshops,” savetheirl.org, Marine Resources Council, https://savetheirl.org/education/rain-barrels/.
3 “Native Gardening,” www.fs.fed.us, U.S. Forest Service, https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/Native_Plant_Materials/Native_Gardening/index.shtml.
4 “Watering restrictions,” www.sjrwmd.com, St. Johns River Water Management District, https://www.sjrwmd.com/wateringrestrictions/.
BENEFITS FOR THE LAGOON, BENEFITS FOR YOU!