HELP YOUR YARD DRINK RESPONSIBLY
High irrigation charges
Why are we using so much water? Where does all of the water go? Customers with in-ground irrigation systems who water regularly may be surprised just how much water is used to water their lawns.
A typical residential irrigation system may have four (4) irrigation zones and use 10 to 15 gallons of water per minute. Although that may not seem unreasonable, usage during one month can add up to thousands of gallons. For example, let’s assume that a typical irrigation system has 4 zones watering for 45 minutes per zone, and provides an average of 12 gallons of water per minute per zone. Irrigating twice per week, the typical irrigation system uses approximately 4,300 gallons of water per week, or 17,200 gallons of water per month. Here are some things you should try.
- First, check your irrigation system to make sure you do not have any broken heads, leaks, or other problems which can lead to wasted water (It may be worth the extra cost to have an irrigation specialist inspect your system).
- Direct Sprinklers For Best Water Coverage. Are you watering the driveway, house, or sidewalk instead of your yard? Irrigation water that lands on hardscapes goes to the stormwater drain instead of the landscape. Any sprinklers that are spraying onto driveways, sidewalks, or walls should be turned towards the landscape. Most sprinklers can be adjusted to as wide or as narrow as necessary.
- Check your controller/timer. This is an electrical clock that tells the sprinkler valves when to release water through the sprinklers and for how long. What you're checking for, when you look at the controller, is to make sure that the programming is reasonable. Sometimes, for whatever reason, a sprinkler station (collection of sprinklers under one timer) loses its programming and goes on default, which may be totally the wrong schedule for you.
- Try reducing the irrigation time for each zone to the minimum amount of time necessary to maintain a healthy lawn. You shouldn’t apply more than ¾ to 1 inch of water to your lawn twice a week.
- Consider reducing the amount of turf you have to water by incorporating Florida friendly landscaping into your yard. Once established, native vegetation requires much less irrigation to stay healthy.
- For more information visit www.cocoafl.org/conservation. Check out UF/IFAS Extension's Florida-Friendly Landscaping™. The St. Johns River Water Management’s plant guide is also very helpful.
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DOES YOUR LANDSCAPE HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM?
Water is a precious resource—the average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day.
Some experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of water used for irrigation is wasted due to evaporation, wind, or runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems.
CONSIDER THESE TIPS
Moisture Sensors Help your yard drink responsibly with these three ways to keep your yard looking great, without wasting water.
1) CONSIDER DRIP IRRIGATION
Drip irrigation can save 30 to 50 percent more water compared to spray heads by applying smaller amounts of water over a longer time. Drip irrigation gets water where it needs to go so there’s less overspray and runoff. Converting your sprinkler heads to a drip irrigation system can be easy!
2) UPGRADE TO HIGH EFFICIENCY NOZZLES
If you are going to keep your spray heads, make your nozzles as efficient as possible. High-efficiency nozzles help reduce wasted water and can improve your system’s efficiency by 10 to 20 percent. High-efficiency nozzles reduce runoff because they evenly apply water at a slower rate than traditional spray heads, giving the water a chance to soak into the ground. Some also apply larger drops of water, reducing the chance that wind will carry the water away before it even hits the ground.
There are different models from various manufacturers, but they all offer more efficient watering than traditional sprinklers. Retrofitting your current spray heads to high-efficiency nozzles is as easy as unscrewing the old nozzle and filter screen and attaching the high-efficiency nozzle and filter screen. Depending on the nozzle you choose, adjust the arc, distance, and/or spray pattern to what your landscape needs.
3) CHOOSE SMART CONTROLLERS
There are different types of smart irrigation controllers, which take the guesswork out of scheduling your irrigation system. These controllers use weather data and sensors to automatically adjust your irrigation schedule to environmental changes. They know when to water, how much water is needed, and when to stop watering. Controllers do this in one of two main ways: through an on-site sensor and through offsite data. Check out H2Ouse Irrigation Systems Rain/Moisture Shutoff Devices to learn more about rain sensors and moisture sensors.
If you don’t want to get a new controller, you may be able to convert your current irrigation controller to a smart controller with a soil moisture sensor. These sensors will measure soil moisture and alert the controller when the moisture level needs to be replenished. Soil moisture sensors work best if you have similar plants and similar soil types throughout your yard.
With some controllers, you can download an app to your smartphone and access your system settings and schedule, and turn it on or off from your device if needed.
Don’t forget that if you need help, landscape professionals are available to help convert your whole yard to the most efficient irrigation system possible!
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers lots of great advice on how to reduce outdoor water use.