Knowing Your Lawn

Many people in Central Florida overwater their lawns believing they are helping the plants cope with Florida’s high temperatures; however, they do not take into consideration the humidity (which helps to hold moisture in the air, soil, and plants), and the frequent summer rainfalls.  

Establishing New Sod


Using too much water could actually harm your lawn by causing fungus and promoting a shallow root system.  You need the deeper root system to help the grass cope with periods of drought.

Consider that in June, July, August, and September of a typical year we get over six inches of rainfall each month and the lawn only needs approximately one inch per week (or four inches for each of those months).  Additional watering by irrigation is usually not necessary during this time, and certainly not twice a week.

In late fall and winter, the temperatures are cooler and the days are shorter.  This means our lawns require less water to remain healthy.

Here is an irrigation plan that is recommended by irrigation and landscape experts:

Water the lawn only when it is dry.
Signs of dryness include grass blades folding up, turning a dull bluish-green, and not springing back when walked on.

Give it a deep soaking.
About ½-inch to ¾-inch of water is typically enough for one week.
Click here to learn how to measure irrigation water in inches]

Wait until the grass is dry before watering again.  
That could be as little as 3 to 4 days or as many as 10 to 14 days, depending on the season, the amount of rainfall, the sandiness of the soil, and the type of grass. 

This kind of watering promotes long and healthy roots that are less susceptible to insect and fungus problems and periods of drought.  Frequent and shallow watering trains the grass roots to stay near the surface of the soil, making them more susceptible to lawn pests, heat, and drought.

Contact Orange County Extension Services at 407-254-9200 to get more information about water conservation and your landscape or click here  for the UF/IFAS Living Green website.

Here is another tip:  

Avoid cutting grass too short. Only trim the top third of the grass blades when you mow. This helps the grass to develop a deeper root system, and greater tolerance to drought, poor soil conditions, nutrient deficiencies, and traffic.

If you have dry patches in your lawn, it could possibly be because your irrigation system is not covering those areas completely.  Many people overcompensate for poor coverage of the sprinkler heads by watering longer and more days.  

Orange County Utilities can schedule a free audit of your irrigation system to determine if there is any inefficiency that needs correcting.

Click here to see if you qualify for a free irrigation audit.

  • Water your lawn only when it needs it.
  • Reduce the amount of grass in your yard by planting shrubs and ground cover.
  • Avoid overfertilizing your lawn. Applying fertilizer increases the need for water. Apply fertilizers which contain slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
  • Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste.