Water Conservation Tips for Life in the Sunshine State

Your Questions Answered 

May 2021

Florida’s population is growing with an average of 1,000 people moving to the state every day. If you’re new to Florida, you may not be familiar with the state’s water resources or how to do your part when it comes to water conservation. Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) Lead Communications Coordinator Robin Grantham shares water-related tips for life in the Sunshine State.

Q: How are Florida lawns different?
A:  Many of the grasses found in northern lawns can’t survive Florida’s heat. Instead, the District encourages Florida-friendly landscapes that need less water by incorporating drought tolerant plants and mulch. To learn more about specific plants and turfgrasses suited best for your home, reach out to your local University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) county extension office for recommendations and landscape workshops.

Q: How should I water my lawn?
A: The District encourages homeowners to watch the weather, wait to water. During the summer months, Florida typically sees increased rainfall. When it’s raining frequently, turn off your irrigation system and turn it back on only when needed. In addition, most Florida lawns need only ½ to ¾ inches of water per week. Figure out how long you need to run your sprinkler system to apply this correct amount of water to reduce overwatering, which not only wastes water but can also lead to pests and diseases.

Q: Are there any restrictions on when I can water my lawn?
A: The District has year-round water conservation measures in place, limiting lawn watering to no more than twice per week. Some local governments may have special twice-per-week schedules or stricter one-day-per-week schedules, so it’s always best to check your local city or county regulations.

Q: Can I capture rain to water my lawn later?      
A: Yes! While some states have laws against rain harvesting, in Florida rain barrels are encouraged and homeowners’ associations are forbidden to prohibit rain barrels. Before purchasing a rain barrel, check to make sure your neighborhood association doesn’t have restrictions that specify rain barrel characteristics such as color, size and location.

Q: How should I keep your lawn healthy?
A: Florida lawns are connected to the watershed. Since water seeps through to the aquifer, applying too much fertilizer too often or at the wrong time can pollute our waterways with nitrates. Before applying fertilizer, always read and follow the package directions to avoid overfertilizing. Order the free “Florida-Friendly Fertilizing Guide” at WaterMatters.org/Publications for simple steps to apply fertilizer and maintain your landscape.

Q: Can expanding plant bed areas reduce my outdoor water use?
A: Yes! Plant beds typically require less water than turfgrass. By expanding plant bed areas with drought tolerant species and installing microirrigation, you can help to reduce your outdoor water use. If installing microirrigation in plant beds, make sure they run on a different irrigation zone than the high-volume sprinkler heads that irrigate your turfgrass.

Q: What should I look for to tell if my in-ground irrigation system is working properly?
A: Many in-ground irrigation systems run in the early morning or late at night when homeowners can’t see them. Manually test run your system to visually check for broken or misdirected sprinkler heads, where water is shooting into the air or into the road or driveway. Also look for areas where water may not be spraying evenly across your lawn.

Q: Where can I find more water conservation tips?
A: To find more water conservation tips, as well as Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ and fertilizer suggestions, visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/Conservation.

Robin Grantham
Lead Communications Coordinator