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WaterMatters

District Asks Homeowners to Skip a Week of Irrigation This Winter

Tom and Stan

The District recently launched a campaign to encourage residents who irrigate their lawns to skip a week of watering during December, January and February.

The “Skip a Week” campaign was developed based on research from the University of Florida, which determined that grass doesn’t need to be watered every week during the cooler months. In fact, one-half to three-quarters of an inch of water every 10–14 days is sufficient.

“Residents should water only when their lawns need it,” said Sylvia Durell, District Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ project manager. “Overwatering can make your lawn less able to survive drought, encourages pests and diseases and wastes water.”

Some signs that indicate your lawn needs watering include grass blades are folded in half and are blue-gray, and your footprints remain on the lawn. However, with above-average rainfall forecasted this winter, residents may be able to turn their irrigation systems off altogether.

This year’s public service advertising campaign was developed using research from last year’s spring campaign, which indicated a need for using a consistent tag line and extending the campaign period. To maximize results, the District is promoting the “Skip a Week” campaign from late November through the end of February.

“Research shows that people are more likely to engage in behaviors that they consider ‘normal,’ easy and quick, such as ‘Skip a Week,’ ” said Beth Putnam, District communications manager. “Using this message again allowed us to keep it simple and apply insight gained from last year’s campaign to make it more effective this year.”

In August four new “Skip a Week” ads were created and tested by several different focus groups throughout the region. Among the four ads, the focus groups related most to discussing lawn and garden practices with their neighbors.

In addition, two key points uncovered during the research were that many people did not know overwatering encouraged pests and diseases and that skipping a week of irrigation was actually better for their lawns.

Based on the research, this year’s “Skip a Week” campaign was developed featuring Tom and Stan, two neighbors who rely on each other for tips on how to manage their lawns during the cooler months. The advertisements include reminders that overwatering can encourage pests and diseases and skipping a week of irrigation can be as simple as turning their timer off on the week they want to skip.

The campaign is being implemented through traditional television, radio, newspaper and electronic billboards; media relations; and special events. “Skip a Week” messages will also be sent through social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and the District email newsletter, which is sent to more than 8,000 email addresses monthly.

To reach a broader audience, District partners such as the cities of St. Petersburg, Tampa and Lakeland will be placing “Skip a Week” messages in their January utility bills, and more than 20 government access stations will be provided the television advertisements.

To view the latest television advertisements with Tom and Stan, visit WaterMatters.org/ads/. Visit WaterMatters.org/skipaweek for more information about how to skip a week of irrigation during the cooler months.

January–February 2010
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