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  • 1. Watering Efficiently Author: Rebecca McNair Edited by: Allison Steele Domestic Water Use Sources Depletion Conservation Efficient Water Use Plant Selection Turfgrass Areas Selecting Drought Tolerant Species Landscaped Beds Plant Maintenance How to Water Rain Catching Devices
  • 2. Water Use In Florida
    • Despite our location in the rainy southeast, Florida ranks high in several categories of water use
    • Domestic-1st
    • Mining-2nd
    • Public-4th
    • Irrigation-11th
    USGS, 1998
  • 3. Plants Need Water…
    • For cell growth and expansion
    • For plant metabolism
    • Transporting soil minerals to roots
    • Physical support through turgor pressure
    • Transporting sugars within the plant
    • Cooling through transpiration
  • 4. What Can I Do?
      • Right plant, right place
      • Choose low maintenance plants and natives
      • Group plants according to their water needs
      • Use mulch
    Design a water efficient landscape:
  • 5. Water Use Efficiency
    • Uncontrollable Factors
      • Temperature
      • Precipitation
      • Sunlight
      • Wind
      • Soil texture
      • Drainage
      • Water quality
      • Local water restrictions
    • Controllable Factors
      • Plant selection
      • Plant placement
      • Soil structure
      • Mulching
      • Irrigation
      • Maintenance practices
      • Human Tolerance
      • Education
  • 6. Based on research, 1,000 ft 2 of: requires 12,480 – 21,840 gallons of irrigation water/year require 6,240 gallons irrigation water/year Woody landscapes can conserve up to 15,600 gallons of irrigation water/year. Grass Woody plants in a mulched area
  • 7. Functional Turf Areas
    • Berms and Swales
      • Excellent filter, and diminishes pollutants and stormwater run-off
    • Recreational areas
      • Resistant to foot traffic, produces oxygen and reduces temperature, glare, noise, and dust
    • Pet areas
  • 8. Functional Landscaped Beds
    • Screen a view
    • Cover oddly-shaped areas difficult to mow or irrigate
    • Plant a shady area where turf won’t grow
    • Group plants for easy maintenance
    • Provide color, shade, or windbreak
    Periwinkle Annuals, perennials, ground covers, shrubs or trees in a mulched area, to:
  • 9. Drought Tolerant Turf
    • Select drought tolerant turf varieties
      • When establishing a new lawn, sod requires less water than seeding
    • Follow maintenance guidelines to promote drought tolerance
      • During extreme drought, slower growth and browning are normal! Very little water is required to keep the turf alive and turf recovers quickly once irrigation is resumed.
  • 10. Selecting Drought Tolerant Turf
    • Seashore Paspalum ‘SeaIsle
    • Excellent drought tolerance
    • Excellent salt tolerance
    • Disease and pest resistant
    • Tolerates flooding and some shade
    • Mow at 1.5 – 2 inches in height
    • Does require lot of mowing and fertilizing
    Seashore paspalum Paspalum vaginatum (Swartz)
  • 11. Selecting Drought Tolerant Turf Bahiagrass Paspalum notatum
    • Bahiagrass Argentine
      • Good cold and drought tolerance
      • Coarse, dense growth
      • Wear tolerant
      • Dormant in winter
      • Poor salt and shade tolerance
      • Mow at 3-4 inches
  • 12. Maintenance Guidelines for Drought Tolerant Turfgrass
    • Never mow grass that needs water
    • Never mow wet grass
    • Keep blade sharp
      • Clean cuts heal quickly and reduce water loss
    • Mow lawn at the
    • highest setting
      • Taller grass has deeper, more extensive roots
  • 13. Turfgrass Maintenance
    • Fertilize conservatively
      • Rapid growth promotes thatch build-up
      • Refer to UF/IFAS guidelines
    • Remove thatch
      • Thatch restricts water movement
      • Use a stiff rake or coring tool to aerate the soil
      • Thatch
  • 14. Landscape Maintenance
    • 2-3 inches of mulch in plant beds
      • Improves water infiltration
      • Reduces storm water runoff
      • Reduces evaporation
      • Prevents erosion
      • Controls weeds
    • Minimize pruning
  • 15. When Do I Water?
    • Early morning or evening
      • Temperature is cool and wind is calm
      • 40% - 60% of water applied evaporates in the afternoon sun!
    • SWFWMD mandates:
    No watering between 10 AM and 4 PM Year - round!
  • 16. How Much?
    • Apply ½ to ¾ inch water per application
    • Soak soil thoroughly to promote a deeper, more drought tolerant root system
    Efficient watering wets only the root zone.
  • 17. Measure It
    • Use a rain gauge, or…
    • Place cans of equal diameter in random places underneath the sprinkler’s spray pattern
    • Measure the depth of water in each can
    • Add depth measurements & divide by the number of cans
    Determine the length of time it takes for your sprinkler system to deliver ¾ inch water.
  • 18. How Often?
    • Water “as needed,” not routinely!
    • Less frequently in the fall and winter
    • Check with CCU or SWFWMD about water restrictions during drought
    Typically, Florida’s rainy season is June - September.
  • 19. Watering Tips
    • Learn to recognize when plants need water
    • In the heat of midday, some plants wilt. No amount of water will change this. If the plant is still wilted by evening, water it then.
    Wilting azalea
  • 20. Water “As Needed” Folded leaflets, a blue color, and footprints that remain on the lawn are indications of a lawn that needs water.
  • 21. Too much of a good thing?
    • Over watering occurs when water is applied too frequently or in excessive amounts
      • Encourages growth of fungi and bacteria
      • Promotes a shallow root system
      • Reduces oxygen to the roots, causing stress
      • Encourages weed growth
    Pennywort is a good indication of an over watered lawn.
  • 22. Irrigation Systems
    • Calibrate the sprinkler system
    • Install a rain shut-off device**
    • Have your sprinkler system “tuned up” yearly
    • Replace worn hose and faucet washers
    Rain Shut-off Device
  • 23. Efficient Irrigation
    • Separate lawn zones from landscape zones
    • Convert landscape beds to drip or low volume irrigation
    • Divert sprinklers to avoid spraying water on sidewalks and streets
  • 24. Low Volume Sprinklers Micro-jet sprinkler Drip emitters Micro-irrigation can improve watering efficiency.
  • 25. Tips on Conserving Water
    • Use recycled or gray water to irrigate
      • From showers or washing machines, but not toilets
    • Direct downspouts toward beds or lawn
    • Cover pools and hot tubs to prevent evaporation
  • 26. Rain Barrels
    • Collect and harvest rain water for irrigation purposes
    • Rainwater runs off roof into the barrel from the downspout
    • A screen fastened over the inlet prevents leaves or insects from entering
  • 27. Cisterns
    • Imply greater storage capacity and a bit more engineering
    • Water travels by gravity or pump action
    • Diagram after Ray Bucklin
  • 28. Further Reading http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu
    • Fact Sheet WRC-11: Conserving Water in the Home Landscape
    • ENH-70: Coping with Drought in the Landscape
    • Circular 807: Drought Tolerant Plants for North and Central Florida
    • ENH-860: Fertilization and Irrigation Needs for Florida Lawns and Landscapes
    • ENH-72: Landscape Design for Water Conservation