Thursday, August 27, 2009

Micro-Irrigation: A Water Saving Alternative

There are so many options when choosing an irrigation system that it can be confusing. Micro-irrigation is a great choice. Not only is it easy to install, but it is also inexpensive. Micro-irrigation is also referred to as “low-volume” irrigation. It can be used for landscape plants but is not recommended for lawn irrigation.
The advantages of micro-irrigation are numerous. Water-use savings are the most important. With micro-irrigation you decrease evaporation by watering a smaller portion of the soil and soaking the soil and roots of the plant. Another advantage is the smaller flow rates. This means that micro-irrigation requires less energy to run than high-pressure systems. While a traditional sprinkler system uses as much as 400 gallons per hour (gph), micro-irrigation emitters have a maximum flow rate of 30 gph.
Micro-irrigation is also easily adaptable to changing topography. If your system is well managed, hilly terrain will not create runoff. Just like any irrigation system, if you follow proper maintenance practices your micro-irrigation system will help you save money on costly water bills.
Different types of systems are available including, in-line drip tubing. This is a tube installed below the mulch where plants are placed close together. Drip emitters are used for precise applications, such as potted plants or individual landscape plants. Micro-sprayers will irrigate the most area out of any of the systems and come in a variety of sizes and patterns. The type of system you choose depends on your landscape and the type of plant material.
For other tips on saving water go to http://www.watermatters.org/ or contact the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program.
If you are interested in learning more about the advantages of micro-irrigation, attend the Water Conservation in the Home Landscape workshop on October 3 from 9:00 am-12:00 pm at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland. Visit the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods website for more information.

Stormwater Runoff Solutions

With all of the recent rains, you may have noticed the stormwater rushing down driveways, sidewalks and streets. Although you may not think twice about that water, there are many harmful ingredients that are traveling into our waterways via stormwater. Pollutants such as pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, grass clippings and automotive fluids can all travel in our stormwater. There are many easy habits you can adopt in your yard to do your part against non-point source pollution.

1. Wash you car on the lawn or other unpaved
surface to minimize runoff.
2. Check any vehicles for oil leaks and clean
with kitty litter or sand.
3. Don’t rinse waste into stormwater drains!
Please properly dispose of the material.
4. Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. If
the forecast calls for rain, wait and apply
at a later date.
5. Sweep yard debris such as grass clippings,
fertilizer and soil back into the yard.
6. Remove trash from street gutters.
7. Direct downspouts and gutters onto your
lawn or plant beds.
8. Use porous paving materials such as brick,
flagstone, gravel or mulch.
9. Pick up after your pets.
10.Collect and reuse stormwater in a rain barrel
or cistern. Your plants will thank you!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Go Green Polk!

Do you want FREE Florida-friendly gardening information?
Visit us at the Magnify Credit Union Grand Opening
Saturday, August 29, 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Magnify Credit Union (corner of Carter Road and 540 A in Lakeland)

The UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service's Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program and the Polk County Master Gardeners will have a booth at the Magnify Credit Union Grand Opening on August 29th. Magnify Credit Union is the first net-zero energy commercial building in Florida. Visit the booth to obtain water conservation and Florida-friendly landscaping literature, ask gardening questions and get the latest and greatest information from your local UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service!

In addition, the City of Lakeland Water Utilities and the Polk County Builders Association Green Building Council will have information on ways to conserve water in and around the home, and highlight the features of the Green Home that will be part of the Fall Parade of Homes. See you there!

Polk County Green Home