Watering Basics for Florida Landscapes

In today's environmentally-conscious world, conserving water is not just a choice, it's a responsibility. Your landscape presents many opportunities to contribute to water conservation efforts, while also enhancing the beauty and sustainability of your outdoor space. Here are some effective strategies to reduce water use in your landscape. For more information to better understand your irrigation system, click on the tiles below.

Know Your Water Restrictions

Year-round water restrictions outline what day of the week and at what time you are allowed to water your lawn and landscape. Be sure to check with your county or water utility on the water restrictions specific to your area. 

Phase I Water Shortage restrictions are in effect in the District. Specific restrictions apply to Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, limiting lawn watering to once per week. Local regulations may impose stricter measures. Visit WaterMatters.org/Restrictions to learn more. 

Create a Drought-Tolerant Landscape

Opt for drought-tolerant, Florida-Friendly plants and turfgrass that match a site’s soil, light, water and climatic conditions. Once established, these plants can thrive with minimal irrigation, thereby reducing water needs. Check with your local UF/IFAS Extension Office for recommendations that fit your landscape.

Expand Plant Beds and Adopt Micro-Irrigation

Enlarge your plant beds and replace traditional spray and rotor heads with micro irrigation systems. Aim to have less than half of your landscape using spray heads and rotors. This not only conserves water but also offers aesthetic appeal, requires less maintenance, and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

Micro-irrigation, also known as drip or low-volume irrigation, uses less water than traditional sprinklers by delivering water directly to plant roots. It is ideal for plant beds and potted plants, which need less water than turfgrass. Types of micro-irrigation include bubblers (best for trees), in-line drip tubing (best for smaller plants), micro-sprays, and point source emitters (both best for medium to large plants). Properly maintained, micro-irrigation can reduce outdoor water use and minimize pest problems from overwatering.

Watering irrigation basics

Optimize Permanent Inground Irrigation Systems

If your home features permanent inground irrigation, look out for three key features that can significantly save water and money:

  • Pressure Regulation: Include pressure regulation in your irrigation system to minimize water evaporation and ensure uniform coverage.
  • Check Valves: Install check valves in low lying areas to prevent leaks when the system is shut off, reducing water waste and associated costs.
  • Micro-Irrigation: Utilize micro-irrigation systems in plant beds to deliver water directly to plant roots, minimizing waste, reducing weeds and diseases and conserving water resources.

Embrace Micro-Irrigation for Plant Health

Micro-irrigation systems deliver water precisely to plants, trees and shrubs, minimizing water use, reducing erosion and promoting healthier vegetation. Choose the appropriate type of micro-irrigation based on plant size, such as bubblers for trees, in-line drip tubing for small plants or micro-sprays for medium to large plants. View the District publication Micro-irrigation, A Guide to the Basics for more information.

Follow Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Principles

Adopt sustainable landscaping practices endorsed by the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program. Consider factors like sunlight, soil type, wind and salt tolerance when selecting plants to ensure optimal growth with minimal water requirements. For more information please visit https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/.

The 9 Principles of a Florida Friendly Landscape

Invest in a Smart Irrigation Controller

Upgrade to a WaterSense labeled smart irrigation controller for automatic savings. Smart controllers monitor local weather and other site conditions, adjusting your irrigation system to apply just the right amount of water at the right time. 

Optimize Irrigation Controller Settings

Set your irrigation controller to water wisely by adhering to local watering restrictions, scheduling irrigation during optimal times and adjusting run times based on seasonal needs. For example, during the rainy season, watch the weather and wait to water your lawn only if supplemental irrigation is needed. In the cooler winter months, plants need less water, and you may be able to skip a week of irrigation, only watering every 10-14 days.  To learn more click here.

Regularly Inspect for Outdoor Leaks

Checking for outdoor leaks is just as important as checking for indoor ones, as even a small outdoor leak can waste 300 or more gallons of water each month.

Common places to look for outdoor leaks include:

Irrigation system: Check for water pooling around the base of your sprinkler or spray heads, which indicates a loose seal. Also, look for broken or misdirected spray heads that are spraying water into the air or onto sidewalks and driveways.
Outdoor spigots: Inspect for excess water dripping from spigots or hose connections. Tighten the connection or use plumber’s tape to fix the leak.
Underground piping: Look for water buildup on your lawn or low water pressure in certain areas when running your irrigation, which can indicate a broken or loose underground pipe.

Conduct routine checks for leaks in these areas to prevent water waste and potential damage.



By implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce water consumption in your landscape while maintaining a lush and vibrant outdoor environment. Remember, every drop saved contributes to a sustainable future for generations to come.