Saving Water in the Summer

Donald W. Downs, Conservation/Public Relations Officer • 351 Shearer Blvd. Cocoa, FL 32922 • Ph: (321) 433-8705 • Fax: (321) 433-8708 • 8:00 am - 5:00 pm • Monday - Friday
Wasting Water
Water use in summer—and into fall—can tax community water supplies. Just because the mercury is rising doesn't mean residential water use has to.

Facts About Summertime Overwatering
  • Depending on the region, homeowners use between 30 and 60 percent of their water outdoors.
  • Experts estimate that 50 percent of the water we use outdoors goes to waste from evaporation, wind, or runoff due to overwatering.
  • The average family in the Cocoa service area uses between 200-300 gallons of water per day. During the hotter months, homes can use about 500-600 gallons of water a day. Some use as much as 3,000 gallons per day! The equivalent of leaving a garden hose running for nearly eight hours!
Simple Tips for Saving Water Outdoors
Homes with automatic irrigation systems can use about 50 percent more water outdoors than those without them. Check your summertime water bill—how does your warmer weather water use compare to winter months? Here are some tips for keeping water use under control:
  • Timing is everything: Know how much water your landscape actually needs before you set your sprinkler. Generally, it’s best to water lawns and landscapes in the early morning and late evening because significant amounts of water can be lost due to evaporation during the heat of the day. Remember that during Daylight saving time (Second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November), even numbered addresses may water on Thursday and Sunday. Odd numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday. Find out more about watering restrictions from the St. Johns River Water Management District.
  • Look for the label: If your system uses a clock timer, consider upgrading to a WaterSense labeled controller. WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers act like a thermostat for your lawn, using local weather data to determine when and how much to water, reducing waste and improving plant health. Learn more at WaterSense Products.
  • Go with a pro. Contractors certified through a WaterSense labeled program can audit, install, or maintain home irrigation systems to ensure water isn’t wasted. Make sure you ask for credentials.
  • Tune up your system: Inspect irrigation systems and check for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Fix sprinkler heads that are broken or spraying on the sidewalk, street, or driveway.
  • Check your rain sensor: Florida is one of the few states with a rain sensor statute. All automatic landscape irrigation systems require rain sensors, or other shut off devices such as soil moisture sensor irrigation controllers. Rain sensors are available wherever irrigation supplies are sold, and a homeowner or irrigation professional can install them. It is important to check the sensor frequently to make sure it isn’t fouled by leaves, debris, or even bird droppings.
  • Play zone defense: When planting, assign areas of your landscape different hydrozones depending on sun/shade exposure, soil and plant types, and type of sprinklers, then adjust your irrigation system or watering schedule based on those zones’ specific needs. This helps you avoid overwatering some areas or underwatering others.
Even if your home doesn’t have an irrigation system, there are a number of simple steps you can take to promote a healthier lawn and garden with less water this summer:
  • Step on it: Grass doesn’t always need water just because it’s hot out. Step on the lawn, and if the grass springs back, it doesn’t need water. An inexpensive soil moisture sensor can also show the amount of moisture at the plant’s roots and discourage overwatering.
  • Leave it long: Raise your lawn mower blade. Longer grass promotes deeper root growth, resulting in a more drought-resistant lawn, reduced evaporation, and fewer weeds.
  • Give your hose a break: Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off. And don’t forget to check for leaks at your spigot connection and tighten as necessary.
Waterwise Landscaping: Another way to use less water is to reduce the amount of lawn that you water. Learn how to establish and maintain a healthy landscape by matching the right plants with existing site conditions. Using Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles will minimize the need for additional resources — such as water, fertilizer, pesticides and labor. For more tips on reducing outdoor water use, visit WaterSense Outdoor.