We know what you’re thinking, “we’re Floridians – what winter are you talking about?”. You make a fair point, and we respect what you’re thinking, but hear us out. Despite our warm winters, we’re still experiencing temperatures that are colder than our plants and lawns are used to, and we’ll certainly experience a lot of different types of weather in our “winter months.” This weather can result in a drought, extra rain, or hey, even snow (okay, that happened once, we don’t anticipate this happening that often).
Regardless, as winter approaches, there are plenty of considerations to take into account when figuring out adjustments for your irrigation systems, as well as options for upgrades for the new year. As cooler weather sets in, water loss due to evaporation decreases considerably, making warm-season grasses go dormant awaiting spring. But, how you irrigate your lawn and landscape during the winter, when you might require less effort and water, will determine how healthy and green it will return in the spring.
We’ve been in the Florida landscaping business for decades, and through lots of experience, we’ve come with some tried-and-true-tricks that can keep your lawn and landscape looking pristine year-round. Check out a few of our considerations and measurement to take into account for your winter irrigation plans.
It’s All About Timing
When it comes to lawn care, it’s important to remember that it’s a year-round regimen. Just because winter might require less watering doesn’t necessarily means it requires less maintenance or less attention. In fact, in times where you water your lawn less, you’ll probably have to keep a much closer eye on the health of your landscape.
That being said, deciding to change up your irrigation schedule and regimen should first and foremost come down to timing. You don’t want to winterize your system too soon, but you also don’t want to wait until it’s too late. In Florida, our weather changes happen closer to mid-November and stick around until late January, however, Florida seasons are vague and subject to change, so it’s more of a play-it-by-ear sort of practice.
The window between the latest warm spell and the first “freeze” (or significant drop in Florida temperature) should be the first time you begin to winterize your irrigation system and plan to shut it down.
Winterizing Your System
This looks a little different than it does in northern states. While we might not be required to shut our systems down entirely, northern states have to remove all the water from the pipes, valves, and sprinklers in order to keep water from freezing and cracking these delicate mechanics.
For us, though, we don’t need to stress this portion too hard, although, we do suggest taking this time to clean out your irrigation system, make note of what needs fixing, and consider which updates you’d like to look into for the next year.
If you’d like, we can check your irrigation system to make sure everything is running smoothly, that way, if you do end up using it during the winter months relatively regularly, it will be in tip-top shape.
Measuring the Correct Amount of Irrigation
In Florida, we can’t just stop watering our lawns when the winter comes. In fact, winter isn’t much different than the rest of our Florida year. What will change it the frequency and amount of water you use on your lawn. Determining this can be sort of tricky as there might not be a set schedule for your winter lawn as you have in the summer and the fall because cooler temperatures will keep water from evaporating as quickly. Here are a few considerations and precautions to think about:
If you overwater your lawn in the winter, you can bet that you’re going to drown your grass’s roots, and because moisture isn’t evaporating as quickly, this means you’ll probably have to adjust how much water and how frequently you’re planning to water your lawn. Overwatering can also lead to ideal conditions for weeds to grow, forcing you to invest in herbicides and manual labor for weed removal. You’ll be able to tell if you’re overwatering if you notice your grass changing color faster. Over absorption of water prevents fertilizers and nutrients from being absorbed by grass’s roots, making it lose its color much faster.
Underwatering is a big deal in Florida winters. Just because northern states don’t have to worry about irrigating their lawns in the winter doesn’t mean we don’t have to – we’re different down here. Underwatering your landscape during the winter will result in slow plant growth, a pale, brownish color, and unfortunately, fragile, brittle grass that will have a hard time bouncing back come spring time.
Keeping an Eye Out for Adjustments
It may take a little trial and error to find the sweet spot you’re looking for when it comes to regular irrigation and irrigation system adjustments for our Florida winter, but we promise, if you’re keeping a vigilante eye, you’ll get there. We suggest looking at your grass and assessing its needs on day-by-day basis. A simple watering schedule where about an inch of water is distributed every four days might be a good place to start. However, if you notice that your grass is browning or brittle, it might be time to add more water or water more frequently. If you notice drowning grass with stunted growth and an influx of weeds and insects, it’s possible you’re gifting your grass with too much water!
So long as you’re keeping a watchful eye on your lawn and landscape, making adjustments, and keeping your irrigation system current and clean, your Florida lawn, and your irrigation system, should survive the winter without any issues!
Are you loving our advice? We sure hope so! For more information, ideas, and inspiration, check out blog on our website here. If you want to get in touch with us to discuss landscaping options, lawn ideas, and more, give our office a call at (727)-201-3947.
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