Tampa Bay area
By county, here are rules that in most cases enhance Swiftmud water-use guidelines:
Citrus | Hernando | Hillsborough | Pasco | Pinellas | Tampa | St. Petersburg
Water-saving tips for better lawns and gardens
- Apply one-half to three-quarters of an inch of water to grass. That equates to 20 minutes for sprinklers with fixed heads and 45 to 60 minutes for rotating-head sprinklers.
- Check sprinkler systems on watering days for broken parts. Make sure sprinklers are applying water evenly to avoid brown spots.
- Add mulch to plant beds to keep the ground from drying out.
- Cut the grass high so it shades the ground and creates deeper root growth.
- Get a free sprinkler system evaluation, if available, from your municipality's water department.
- Water in early morning as opposed to late in the evening to prevent fungus from growing on grass and plants.
- When you cut the lawn, try to keep it about 3 to 4 inches high so the grass retains more water. A sharp blade produces a cleaner cut that heals more quickly and loses less water.
- Scatter 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the bottom of shrubs and trees to retain water. Folded or droopy leaves indicate the plant is thirsty.
- Fertilizers promote growth and increase a plant's need for water, but annuals and vegetables need food to help them produce flowers and vegetables. Use a water-soluble fertilizer, a 6-6-6 or 6-8-8, at half strength about every two weeks.
- Move container plants to shaded areas to reduce their need for water.
- Flower beds, vegetable gardens and other non-lawn areas may be irrigated as needed using hoses with automatic shut-offs, hand-watering, micro-irrigation and other low-volume watering methods.
- "Gray water," or recycled rinse and bath water can be used on plants; however, avoid water containing bath oil, foam or salts. Plants in containers can be damaged by alkaline build-up. Do not use gray water on indoor plants.
- In desperate times, stop irrigating Bahia grass and allow it to go dormant. Bahia grass will turn brown but recovers well when irrigation resumes. St. Augustine grass will die if not irrigated.
- Thin dense beds of plants to reduce competition among them.
-- Sources: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, the Scotts Co., Times Garden Section
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