Dale Armstrong, Coordinator Florida Yards & Neighborhoods, Pinellas County Extension
Probably everyone knows and practices the obvious things we can do to conserve water around the house… like not leaving the water running while brushing your teeth or washing dishes in the sink., and waiting for a full load before running the dishwasher or clothes washer.
What may be not so apparent are the things you can do outside that will reduce your use of water. Here are some ideas to consider:
In-ground sprinkler systems need a periodic checkup to determine everything is working properly and efficiently. This includes:
1. Check time clock settings to ensure they are correct under the current watering restrictions.During our dry spring period (March through May) plan to water only when landscape plants and grass indicate they need water. This time of year the region’s water resources may be impacted by over-watering or unnecessary watering of the landscape.
2. Manually turn on each zone monthly and check each nozzle for correct operation and coverage. Adjust or replace as needed.
3. Consider calibrating each zone to apply an average of ¾” of water. This is a one-time process, so if you have never done it this is an excellent way to know that you have each zone running for the correct length of time. Instructions for calibrating may be found here.
4. If a sprinkler zone covers just a plant bed and no turf grass, consider retrofitting that zone to low volume micro-irrigation for a water savings of 25 to 50 percent.
Rain Barrels are an excellent way to capture and store rain water that runs off your roof. The water can be used to supplement potable (drinking) water that you may currently be using in the landscape. Even if you do not have a gutter system around the edge of the roof you may still have an area with heavy water flow that a barrel may be positioned under.
Pinellas County Extension offers free classes on making and setting-up rain barrels. We usually have rain barrels for sale at these classes. For a list of classes and dates please see our calendar at http://www.pinellascountyextension.org/ . You may also buy a complete rain barrel or just a plastic barrel to make your own rain barrel from one of these sources.