Do Not Turn Off your Irrigation During the Rainy Season

PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

By Rick Orr 07/15/2021
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Water stressed lawns
Turning off the irrigation and then forgetting to turn it back can be disastrous for the lawn

Many Forget to Turn The Irrigation Back On

I know it looks silly to have your irrigation run while it rains, but that is about all it is – visually odd. It is raining and the irrigation is running and it looks silly.

To not look silly, many turn off their irrigation systems during the rainy season. And many forget to turn them back on again until they notice the lawn has dead brown spots from lack of water.

It Never Rains Enough to Keep Your Lawn Alive

Our sandy soils determine how long a lawn can survive between watering not how much it rains. In Pinellas that is about 72 hours. Everything would be fine if it rained every 72 hours – but it doesn’t.

To keep your lawn healthy and thriving, it needs a steady constant supply of water - a good soaking every 3 days. It may seem like it is raining every day but often it just looks like rain or it rained n parts of the county, not on your lawn. 

Scattered Thundershowers Grow Scattered Lawns

If it rains 2” on Monday, by Wednesday your lawn needs water. By Friday your lawn is starting to die. Your lawn needed water on Wednesday, and even though it may rain on Saturday, you have already lost a portion of your lawn to water stress. Repeat this scenario several times and the once lush green lawn is now a patchwork of weeds and turf.

You’re Not Wasting Water

Each time your water your lawn, your puny little irrigation system is pumping out 800 gals of water – a single thundershower dumps about 4000 gals on your lawn. When you irrigate while it is raining, your irrigation water and the rain are soaking back into the ground. It may be redundant to irrigate while it rains, but all the rain and the irrigation water are going back to the same place – the aquifer.

It Rains 4’ of Water Every Year

A single thundershower dumps about 10 billion gallons of water on Pinellas County. In a year, about 540 billion gals of rain falls on Pinellas County to recharge surface and groundwater. That is at least 5 times the amount of water used for irrigation purposes in Pinellas County.

No Need to Worry about Over Watering

I have never seen a lawn die in Pinellas County from water but I have seen many die from the lack of it. One good quality of our sandy soils is that it drains fast making overwatering your lawn nearly impossible. Our sand soils drain at over 10” per hour. Overwatering your lawn is like trying to fill up a bottomless bucket to overflowing - nearly impossible. Overwatering is not lethal to your lawn but underwatering your lawn is lethal - so if you are going to err, err on the side of overwatering.

Too Many Find Out Too Late

Many homeowners look conscientious about the environment turn off the irrigation during the rainy season and learn too late that cutting off the irrigation was not such a good idea.

My best advice: Never turn off your irrigation system

Rick Orr Owner-Operator APL Pest Control/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
Rick
Orr
APL Pest Control

Rick Orr is the creator of Iloveturf.com, Owner/Operator of APL Pest Control, and a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology).  

Since 1980, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications for arboriculture, landscape contractor, irrigation contractor, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College.  

Rick lives and works in Pinellas County.

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Speaking Engagements - Does it seem like you are only hearing one side of water restrictions, fertilizer bans, plant restrictions, and many other urban landscape hot topics? Rick Orr is available for speaking engagements for your HOA, Community or Professional Association, or Garden Club about a variety of subjects. Feel free to contact Rick Orr at [email protected] for more information.