As the weather grows colder, grass and plants require less water than in the spring and summer months. During the winter, water lost during transpiration and evaporation decreases, leaving more moisture for plants and grass. In Florida, common grass types go dormant as temperatures decrease. Average temperatures under 82 degrees keep Bahia, St. Augustine, Zoysia and Bermuda grass types in their dormant stage. In some cases, grass will even still remain green. Maintaining a lush Florida lawn is a result of wise water use. Overwatering in the winter can stress the lawn and homeowners will see the negative effects by the spring. In the winter, adjust irrigation systems to only water once a week. Typical Florida grasses only needs one-inch of water per week to remain healthy. Watering once a week will keep the roots strong and nutrient dense for a nice return in the spring. While adjusting irrigation systems, also go through the system and make sure everything is functioning properly. Check for broken heads, emitters that may be spraying the sidewalk or any programming in your system that may be costing extra money or wasting water. When spring returns, homeowners should re-evaluate the system. Make sure programming is adjusted to the change in weather and run a check on the rain sensor to ensure it is working properly. With a warmer climate a 2 day-a-week water schedule can be resumed again. Checklist for a proper irrigation check: 1. Check the controller for the correct time, date and day. 2. Check for proper pressure in each zone (low pressure could indicate a line break or a possible missing sprinkler head). 3. Check for proper rotation for rotor sprinkler heads and adjust these to perform efficiently. 4. Replace heads overgrown with grass and cannot pop up to irrigate properly. St. Augustine grass should have 6-inch heads and sprays. 5. Check and clean filters for all rotors and sprays. If the system has Netafim (micro-irrigation), clean this filter also. 6. Reprogram the controller for the necessary allowance of water per zone. Typically, rotors are set on average for 30 minutes and sprays are set for 15 minutes. 7. Keep in mind plants have grown or could have died off due to weather or disease. Areas might need different irrigation times depending on the micro-climate. Adjust these areas as necessary. 8. Replace the battery backup on your controller. The battery backup does not operate the controller but keeps run times and start times in the controller in the event of a power outage. This will stop the system from reverting back to a default setting. 9. Check your rain sensor to make sure it is functioning correctly. It is actually Florida law to have a working rain sensor. Need help? The Water Conservation Team at Toho Water Authority is here to help! We conduct irrigation evaluations in our service area. If you have any questions or need assistance with your irrigation needs, please contact us at 407-944-5124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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