Water Restrictions: Once (1x) per Week is Not Enough


By Rick Orr 09/04/2009

Water Restrictions

1x per Week Watering

Once per week watering will only sustain the St Augustine turf in the most amicable areas of the lawn – the shady, the moist and the areas not stressed by sun, poor soils or biological stresses(i.e. nematodes) – in other words, only the perfect areas of your lawn will survive.The rest of your lawn will become “battle scarred” with dead, dying or weak turf with little chance of recovery or reclamation.

These battle scarred areas become prime habitats for weeds and chinch bugs and require heavier doses of chemicals to mitigate (hard to manage). Once per week watering will reduce your lawn to patches of weeds and dead dying grass interspersed with patches of attractive St Augustine – not much to brag about!

One reason once per week water fails is our sandy soils cannot store and provide for seven days sufficient moisture to sustain St Augustine – it is one of the limitations of our soils. Consider this scenario:

  • Week One: Water on Tuesday, no rain – grass stressed and dying by Sunday
  • Week Two: Water stressed grass on Tuesday and it rains on Wednesday – Grass stressed and dying by Monday
  • Week Three: Water on Tuesday, no rain – grass dead in weakest driest areas by Sunday, no chance of recovery
  • Week Four: Water on Tuesday, Rain on Thursday – Grass does not recover and weak areas invaded by weeds

Repeat this scenario 2 to 3 times from April to July and you have a a battle scarred lawn.

3x per Week Watering

However lawns watered three times per week are uniform, mostly weed free, recover quickly from stress and  can be managed economically for weeds and chinch bugs.In other words, three times per week watering provides enough moisture to keep St Augustine healthy and vigorous, able to withstand other stresses such as heat, poor soils and biological stresses (i.e. nematodes), choke out weeds and recover quickly from stress or damage.Three times per week watering works!

Who Determines Irrigation Restrictions

So who is setting these policies? Tampa Bay Water Users - a board of elected officials who ask a non-elected government agency called Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFMD) to restrict water usage. SWFWMD was created in 1961 to control flooding, expanded it’s powers to control the water on, above and below your land and in 2011 the fertilization of lawns. The purpose of controlling irrigation was to prevent people without wells or reclaimed water sources from encouraging those without to use city water to irrigate their lawn. 

The restrictions did nothing to increase or decrease potable (city) water - it only kills lawns. And dead lawns create more pollution where as healthy lawns prevent pollution.


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

Since 1995, Rick Orr has worked in Pinellas County providing turf management and pest control. Rick Orr is a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology) and the creator of Iloveturf.com.

Since graduating from VA Tech in 1979, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications in arboriculture, landscape contractor, and irrigation contractor, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College. 

Currently, Rick is the owner and operator of APL Pest Control. APL Pest Control provides lawn care and pest control for all of Pinellas County.

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