If you are a part-time Polk County resident you may want to consider the following guidelines for maintaining your lawn and landscape in your absence. You want to preserve the beauty and health of your lawn and landscape but also to conserve water and prevent wasted water. Potential wasted water could lead to hefty water bills or potential fines upon your return.
- If leaving before Daylight Savings Time, when we “spring forward” make sure irrigation timers are set to reflect the time change and replace the battery in any electronic devices. Lightning can disrupt timers without adequate battery backup and cause your system to water at the wrong time. Remember local governments are issuing citations for watering at the wrong time of day or on the wrong day.
- Do it yourself or have a professional irrigation contractor install an operational automatic rain shut-off device to ensure your irrigation system doesn’t come on during summer rains. Set the system to override your controller at one-half inch of rainfall. Be sure to clean debris from any existing rain shut-off device. It is the law to have an operating rain shut-off device on ALL irrigation systems!
- Ask a neighbor or have your lawn and landscape contractor check your irrigation system at least once a month for broken or misdirected heads that waste water and have them fixed to eliminate water waste.
- Ask your lawn and landscape contractor to monitor the current water restrictions and reset your irrigation timer if needed.
- Turn off water inside the house in case of an unanticipated leak in your absence. You should also turn off your water heater and other water-using appliances to prevent potential problems. If it is a gas water heater, be sure to contact your gas supplier to have the pilot light re-lit upon your return.
- Turn off water conditioners to avoid unnecessary regeneration cycles.
- Add mulch to beds to avoid evaporation and keep water in soil. This will also help keep weeds down while you are away.
- Ask your lawn service to mow lawn higher during the summer season to encourage a deep, drought-tolerant root system and reduce pest outbreaks.
- Request to have your potable water account placed on “vacation status” by your utility.
By following these guidelines you will feel more secure about your lawn and landscape while you are gone. Remember that by maintaining a Florida-Friendly Landscape will reduce the need for routine irrigation and your landscape plants will be adapted to Florida’s extreme weather conditions. For more information on how to prepare your landscape for your extended absence or how to conserve water in the home landscape, contact the Polk County Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program.