Irrigation Pitfalls

Common Landscape Pitfalls that Affect Plant Health – Irrigation Edition

Irrigation head spraying a stream of water on to a tree's trunk
Make sure your irrigation heads are positioned to water the intended plants and not something else (like a tree trunk). UF/IFAS.

Landscapes with plants that match their preferred growing conditions require less water, fertilizer, pesticides, and maintenance than landscapes with plants growing in the wrong locations. When choosing the right plant for the right place, there are a number of factors to consider to ensure a long-lived, healthy landscape. Proper irrigation plays a huge role in the well-being of your landscape plants.

To minimize your landscape maintenance and give plants the correct irrigation, group plants with similar water requirements. Turf areas should be in separate irrigation zones and landscape plants should be in different zones. These zones should not be watered at the same frequency as established landscape plants need less irrigation than growing turf.

Check and calibrate your system regularly. No more than ½ to ¾ inches of water should be applied to an area for a single irrigation event. Also be sure your irrigation system is functioning properly and has a rain shut off device. Look at your irrigation system weekly for broken and misaligned heads.

You can also learn the symptoms of thirsty plants and manually turn on irrigation when water is needed. Symptoms of dehydrated turf are grass that has a dull bluish–gray color, foot tracks that remain in the grass, leaf blades that are folded in on at least 1/3 of the turf. For any plant, if soil in the root zone is dry and crumbly it is in need of water.

Avoid overwatering when plants are not actively growing. In the fall and winter, when some plants are dormant, you can back off and often even skip a week of watering. Additionally, water restrictions often change in the fall and winter.

Finally if there is rain in the 24-hour forecast, skip watering.

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