Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away…Save it for Another Day!

By Tampa Bay Water

The old rhyme “April showers bring May flowers” doesn’t work so well here in central Florida. For us, the rhyme should be, “April and May flowers bring lots of summer showers.”

So what should homeowners do with all this extra rainwater? Why, save it and store it of course!

Saving rainwater for future use is called “rainwater harvesting,” and it is an important part of a Florida-friendly landscape.

If you have been reading this blog series then you know that Florida-friendly landscaping™ is key to entering the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards. Now in its 16th year, the awards program, sponsored by Tampa Bay Water, the UF/IFAS Extension and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program, recognizes those homeowners and businesses committed to conserving water and protecting the environment by using the most water-efficient landscaping practices.

If you would like to enter this year’s contest, visit www.tampabaywaterwise.org. Entries are due no later than June 30, 2015.

As mentioned earlier, a key component of any Florida-friendly lawn is the use of rainwater harvesting. This is the collecting and storing of rainwater. Collection is usually from your home’s roof, and storage is in a catchment tank.

Why is rainwater harvesting so important? There are several reasons:

  1. Harvesting rainwater reduces the amount of stormwater runoff that occurs, which helps reduce the amount of nutrients and contaminants that get washed into water bodies in which we fish, swim and use as drinking water sources.
  2. Using stored rainwater instead of your home’s irrigation system can allow you to turn off the system and water plants that need it only!
  3. Rainwater harvesting reduces the use of potable (drinking) water for irrigation uses, allowing it to be used for its highest and best use - drinking.

Rainwater harvesting works best on Florida-friendly landscapes – those that do not need much supplemental irrigation, which lowers the size catchment tank needed. These environmentally-friendly landscapes not only require less water to thrive, but also can reduce stormwater runoff.

The easiest and most inexpensive way to begin harvesting rainwater is with a rain barrel. Rainwater harvesting workshops, available through the University of Florida IFAS Extension program, teach you how to build and use a rain barrel. To find a workshop near you, visit the Extension’s website.

Tampa Bay Water has developed a six-part video series that highlights previous winners of the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Award, and provides tips on how you can make your landscaping more water-efficient and Florida-friendly. Who knows, maybe next year you will be a winner!

For more information on how you can make your landscape “Water-Wise,” or to learn more about the contest, visit www.TampaBayWaterWise.org or click here to learn even more about efficient water use outside the home.

This is the fourth in a five-part series from Tampa Bay Water.

Smart Irrigation Techniques Can Result in Substantial Water Savings – And are an Important Part of an Award-Winning Landscape

By Tampa Bay Water

As you’ve probably heard by now, the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards is a program offered by Tampa Bay Water recognizing those homeowners and businesses committed to conserving water and protecting the environment by using the most water-efficient landscaping practices. 2015 is the 16th year of this competition, and Tampa Bay Water wants to give you a chance to make your landscaping “Water-Wise.”

If you would like to enter this year’s contest, visit www.tampabaywaterwise.org. Entries are due no later than June 30, 2015.

In the third post in this five-part series on the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards, we will discuss the importance of the right irrigation techniques in a water-wise landscape. As seen in this video, efficient irrigation can save water and money.

Using the right irrigation techniques and technologies will go a long way toward saving water at home. One key is selecting the right sprinkler head for the area, which can help reduce wasteful practices like watering the driveway or street.

Here are a few tips on efficient irrigation:

  1. Rotors apply water over a large area so they are good for lawns, while spray heads are better for small areas of grass and some landscape beds.
  2. Micro-irrigation, also known as “drip” or “low-volume” irrigation, is ideal for shrubs, flowers and potted plants. Because water goes directly to the root of the plant, there is less water loss from evaporation, wind and runoff, and fewer pests.
  3. Adjust your sprinkler timer for various zones to apply ½ to ¾ inch water per application. Generally, rotor zones should be set to 45 minutes to an hour and spray heads to 15 to 25 minutes per application. These may be adjusted to ensure you apply the depth of water identified. REMEMBER: Turn your irrigation system to the off position during the rainy season!

One of the most effective ways to use less water outside is to install Florida-friendly landscaping that doesn’t require much supplemental irrigation. Florida-friendly landscapes incorporate efficient irrigation to reduce stormwater and nutrient runoff while conserving water. Because water is directed at the roots of the plants, where it is needed most, microirrigation is an important component of a Florida-friendly landscape. For information on efficient micro-irrigation systems, see “A Guide to Micro-Irrigation for West Central Florida Landscapes.”

Tampa Bay Water has developed a six-part video series that highlights previous winners of the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Award, and provides tips on how you can make your landscaping more water-efficient and Florida-friendly. Who knows, maybe this year you will be a winner!

For more information on how you can make your landscape “Water-Wise,” or to learn more about the contest, visit www.TampaBayWaterWise.org. or click here to learn even more about efficient water use outside the home.

This is the third in a five-part series from Tampa Bay Water.

The Right Plant in the Right Place – An Important Part of an Award-Winning Landscape

By Tampa Bay Water

Recently, Tampa Bay Water told you about the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards, a program that recognizes those homeowners and businesses committed to conserving water and protecting the environment by using the most water-efficient landscaping practices in their beautiful landscapes. This is the 16th year of this competition, and Tampa Bay Water wants to give you a chance to make your landscaping “Water-Wise.”

If you would like to enter this year’s contest, visit www.tampabaywaterwise.org.

Tampa Bay Water has developed a six-part video series that highlights previous winners of the Water-Wise Award, and provides tips on how you can make your landscaping more water-efficient and Florida-friendly. Who knows, maybe next year you will be a winner!

The second post in this series discusses Landscape Design and Plant Selection. Simply put – the right plant in the right place.

According to the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program, achieving a healthy, low-maintenance home landscape starts with putting the right plant in the right place. Here’s how:

  1. Select plants that match a site’s soil, light, water, and climatic conditions. This Florida-Friendly Plant Database will help you identify the Florida-friendly plants, including Florida-native plants that will work in your yard or landscape design. The database contains a list of recommended trees, palms, shrubs, flowers, groundcover, grasses and vines developed by University of Florida/IFAS horticulture experts.
  2. Buy quality plants that welcome wildlife. Landscaping to attract wildlife brings nature close by welcoming it into our yards. Planting certain trees, shrubs, and flowers can create an inviting atmosphere for songbirds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Another advantage of landscaping for wildlife is creating habitat for animals that have been displaced by community growth and development where space is limited.
  3. Consider plant size when you make your purchase, and aim for a diversity of trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and flowers. Once these plants are established, they’ll require little – if any – supplemental water, fertilizer, or pesticides, saving you time and money.
  • Attend a Florida Friendly Landscape Workshop
  • Pasco County Workshops
  • Pinellas County Workshops
  • Hillsborough County Workshops
  • Feeling overwhelmed? “Just take a little piece at a time,” says 2011 Water-Wise Award winner Tom Ungaro. “It’s part of enjoying what you are doing, and then seeing the results that are very, very rewarding.”

    For more information on how you can make your landscape “Water-Wise,” or to learn more about the contest, visit www.TampaBayWaterWise.org.

    This is the second in a five-part series from Tampa Bay Water.

    Does Your Landscape Have What it Takes to be Award-Winning?

    By Tampa Bay Water

    Is your landscaping the envy of the neighborhood – not just because of its beauty, but also because it is Florida-friendly and water-efficient? Then you need to enter the 2015 Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards, sponsored by Tampa Bay Water.

    For the past 16 years, the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards program has recognized those homeowners and businesses committed to conserving water and protecting the environment by using the most water-efficient landscaping practices.

    To enter the contest, or for more information, visit www.tampabaywaterwise.org.

    If your current landscaping isn’t quite up to snuff to enter this year’s contest, but you would like to make your home or business more “Water-Wise,” it’s easier than you might think.

    Tampa Bay Water has developed a six-part video series that highlights previous winners of the Water-Wise Award, and provides tips on how you can make your landscaping more water-efficient and Florida-friendly. Who knows, maybe next year you will be one of our winners!

    The first in the series discusses the importance of stormwater runoff prevention in your landscaping. Simply put, stormwater runoff is the rain that does not soak into the ground, buildings, parking lots and walkways where it falls. Instead, it runs into storm sewers, which ultimately lead to waterways, taking with it all the pesticides, chemicals, grass clippings and other garbage it has picked up along the way.

    Florida-friendly landscaping can reduce the amount of stormwater runoff drastically. In this video, previous winners discuss numerous ways they have reduced stormwater runoff in their own yards. Here are a few tips:

    1. Minimize impervious services on your property. For example, instead of paving a garden path, use crushed shells or mulch.
    2. Use rain barrels. Instead of directing downspouts onto driveways, where the water will run off into storm drains, direct them into rain barrels. Then, use the captured water on a day that isn’t so wet to water plants in need of a drink. If you don’t want to use rain barrels, then direct your downspouts to a vegetated area, such as your garden or lawn.
    3. Replace parts of your lawn with Florida-friendly landscaping plants and native plants. Lawns aren’t as effective at absorbing and retaining water, especially during heavy rains, as larger or dense plantings, which slow water down. Using correctly placed native and non-native adaptive plants in your landscape helps slow down water so it can percolate into the soil and is then used by those plants efficiently. As an added bonus, correctly designed and placed landscape plantings generally require less maintenance than turf grass.
    4. Don’t leave soil exposed. Exposed soil is subject to erosion during our periodic heavy rains and impact water body clarity. If you have a bare area, at a minimum, make sure it’s mulched.

    For more information on how you can make your landscape “Water-Wise,” or to learn more about the contest, visit www.TampaBayWaterWise.org.

    This is the first in a five-part series from Tampa Bay Water.

    April is Water Conservation Month

    By Tampa Bay Water

    The Tampa Bay Water Board of Directors joined the State of Florida and local governments in declaring April as Water Conservation Month. This annual proclamation underscores the need to conserve water during Florida’s typical spring dry season by highlighting a variety of programs, promotions and public awareness campaigns aimed at improving water use efficiency.

    In April, May and June, Florida’s temperatures begin to increase while the state’s rainfall tends to decrease. As temperatures rise, so does outdoor water use. Residents and businesses can take a number of steps to save water outdoors during our traditional dry times:

    1. If it rains at least ½ inch on or just before your watering day, skip your day.
    2. Conduct a visual inspection of your irrigation system by turning the system on to each zone for less than 5 minutes and visually looking for broken or misdirected heads. Correct these problems and water your landscape only.
    3. If you are planning new plants this spring, use Florida-friendly landscaping to put the right plant in the right place and save water.
    4. Hold off on installing new sod, trees or plants until the summer rainy season.
    5. Make sure your landscape beds have at least 3 inches of organic mulch around each plant but not touching the plant trunk. Mulch cools the plant roots and helps retain moisture.
    6. Use a hose nozzle when hand watering or washing your car. It saves water by keeping the water from running constantly.
    7. Mow your grass on the highest setting possible (3 to 4 inches) and never mow more than one-third of the grass height. This helps to increase plant root depth and make it more tolerant to dry conditions.

     

    And as always, know your watering day(s) and times. Watering restrictions differ by city and county.