Irrigation & Water Restrictions
Saint John's Water Management Regulations
Water two days a week: Odd number houses, (Wednesday & Saturday), even number houses (Thursday & Sunday) before 10:00am or after 4:00pm.
During day light savings times November-March water one time per week only.
Watering in the A.M. is preferred to prevent water evaporation and also some diseases. Water 3/4 of an inch twice a week; unless you get rainfall that equals this amount. If you have a rain sensor, set it to 1/2 an inch, so the system will shut down when you have rain accumulation. If you do not have a sensor we recommend purchasing a rain gauge. Place the gauge in an area that you frequent often, so when you receive 3/4 of an inch of rain you can manually shut down your system or skip a watering.
Estimated Run Times
Pop Up Heads (heads that do not turn, or stay in one place): Water 20-30 minutes.
Rotor Heads (heads that turn and water larger areas): Water 45-55 minutes.
These are standard times and offer a starting point for calibrating your system. You also need to account for seasonal rain, heat, and soil type. Areas in direct sunlight will require more water and are more likely to have what we call HOT SPOTS, or areas that just cannot retain enough moisture. Shaded and lakeside properties will retain water longer, zone run times may vary and you should adjust accordingly.
Calibration is a critical aspect of irrigation systems. By calibrating your own irrigation system it will allow you to know exactly how long each zone needs to run to achieve you target volume. Collect some tuna or cat food cans, measure and mark 3/4 to 1 inch of water. We also offer our customers measuring cups that have a steam so they are held firmly in the ground. If you wish to use these cups just call out office (407)-737-1889 and your technician will bring you a pack that includes instructions.
After you calibrate your system, look for results over a period of two weeks. You might find dry spots in a zone that needs attention. Make sure you are getting good overlap water spray; all heads are turning and plants are not blocking any heads. This will take time, but the end result is well worth it!
Deep Watering Benefits
Deep watering (getting soil wet 6-8 inches deep and watering less frequently) is also preferred to shallow watering for less time, only wetting the surface soil.
You will find seasonal recommendations for how much and how often to water based on the water conditions at that time in each of our seasonal newsletters.
Irrigating New Sod and Shrubs
Caring For New Sod
The first 30 days after a new installation, irrigation is extremely critical. Not enough water and things will dry up. Too much water and everything will become diseased. You have made a huge investment in your new landscape and will need to pay close attention to its condition for the first 30 days to insure you have complete success. We recommend walking the property daily and inspection for anything that looks different than the rest. If it looks different there is likely something wrong.
If you have had a new irrigation system installed or reconditioned your system, you also need to be very sure the system is covering everything evenly. Irrigation installers use math to determine head size, flow, calibration, and coverage. Seldom do they actually do a volume test. This is a simple process that you should do in the beginning to make sure what has been calculated is truly what you are getting. Simply take a rain gauge (anything that is cylindrical and has a flat bottom i.e.: soup or tuna can) and let each zone run and see how much water you have hitting the ground. This can also be done in an area or spot later when you feel like an issue has arisen especially when something looks different. Your target is 3/4 (.75) to 1 inch. If you get more, you should adjust that zone for shorter run time. If it is less than increase the run time on that zone.
For example, if you get 1/2 inch in 30 minutes than you would be calibrated by increasing the zone to 45 minutes.
You should also make sure your rain sensor is activated and functioning.
After insuring your volume is correct you can begin your irrigation regiment.
Please understand weather has a major impact on your needs. Hot and dry, you may barely keep up.
Wet and cool, you can easily over water. Rainy 1 week and dry the next. Your plants have no roots and you need to adjust quickly to avoid damage.
First 7 to 10 days: Water all zones for the full time needed 1 time per day.
As you check the plant material daily, if you find wilt in the afternoon you can add a later afternoon/early evening watering for 10% to 15% of the full run time. Remember the turf root system is under great stress and only an inch or less long. You have to keep the surface soil moist.
Second 7-10 days: Water every other day. Your base soil should be very moist and now you are beginning to get new roots, it is critical to do a late afternoon 10% to 15% supplemental watering if you find wilt.
Third 7-10 days: You should be able to drop to watering 3 times weekly. It is critical to do a late afternoon/early evening 10% to 15% watering if you find wilt. While it is less likely at this point it will depend on rain and heat.
After first 30 days: You should be able to switch to 2 or 3 times per week watering. Stop the afternoon watering and let the lawn tell you it is needs the extra water. Each day take a brief walk around the lawn and if you see wilt or hot spots then turn the system on to give it that surface watering. At round 60 days the lawn should be pretty well established and will not require as much attention.
During the first 30 days, you will need to look closely for any areas that have a wilted or greyish look. The wisest thing is to check the soil in these areas and see how dry it is. If the soil is dry you will need to up the water. If it seems like these spots are all over the lawn it is likely just needing more water. You should also pay attention to areas that are repeatedly dry. If it is the same spot every time then the system may have a plugged nozzle or need adjusted. If you do not correct this coverage issue you will end up with damage.
There is no way to predict summer rains. It can rain heavy around the corner and no rain at your house. A good tool to help with the 30-day watering is to monitor a rain gauge to help determine if you can reduce watering.
Caring for New Shrubs
Please be careful when installing new trees and shrubs It seems the growers are using potting material that is courser than we have seen in years past. This is done so nutrients and moisture can be controlled to speed up the growth of the plants while in the nursery. Make sure the root balls are broken up and try to mix a little loose soil from the planting area into the root ball. We have seen many plants die from drought even though the soil in the shrub bed is extremely moist. The course potting soil allows the root ball to dry out much faster than the soil that surrounds it. This is often seen in established plants as well when we enter periods of extreme heat and lack of rain fall. Hand watering the base of the trunk 1 or 2 times per week for the first month or two will help insure you do not a have water problem. If the plant was a 2-gallon plant then it will only need about 2 gallons of water. A 5-gallon plant will need 5 gallons of water and so on.
It is also critical to not install plants to deep. The root flares should be at grade or even a little above grade. You can install a plant too shallow with very little adverse effect. If you install plants even 1/2 inch too deep everything from poor general health, lack of blooming, to premature death will be the result. A simple rule is all trunk bark and root flares should be exposed and above grade when you finish installing a plant. Properly installed mulch is not an issue, just make sure no dirt is covering the areas mentioned.
We always recommend that if you have plants or turf that does not look the same as the rest the wisest thing you can do is check the soil for moisture. With turf is it the first 2 to 3 inches and with plants it is the first inch or so, but you must check at the base of the trunk. With large plants you need to check all four sides of the trunk. It is not uncommon to find 1/2 of the root ball dried out. There is one thing you can always be sure of, if the soil is dry the plant material must get more water. No matter how well your irrigation works, or how much rain we are getting, if the soil is dry-additional water is the cure. If the soil is moist than it very likely is something else and you need to call us.
As a side note, if a plant is dry and you call us, by the time we inspect and you get the needed water back in the soil it may be too late. Plants and turf will take months to recover from dying out if they do survive.
Congratulations on your new lawn and shrubs. Feel free to call out office at any time if you see or think you make have an issue. We may even be able to help you right over the phone saving critical time between an issue arising and being resolved.
ZOYSIA GRASS CUT DOWN
Every spring we discuss cutting our Zoysia by doing a “Cut Down” or “Buzz Cut”. A cut down is the process of cutting the grass extremely low. You will remove most all that is green and some of the decaying material from last year’s growth and the natural winter decline. In the past years, we have worked to fine tune our service programs to avoid this labor intensive and messy project. Most lawns will only need what is called a buzz cut. This is a tight cut with a goal of 1 to 1.5 inches. The primary reason for this is to reduce thatch buildup. This also shortens the grass to allow for a seasonal growth spirt that will affect the appearance of the lawn all year.
When you cut Zoysia this close, the lawn will be mostly brown. It will look like the lawn will die. You are truly scalping the lawn on purpose. Because it will look so bad and many landscapers just do not understand it is a critical part of caring for Zoysia we have found it extremely difficult to get them to cut the way it should be done. Assure them you know they will cut all the green away leaving very little behind except runners. It will recover in a few weeks and if the lawn had not been mowed at the correct height in the past this is the only time of year and way to get rid of that “Shaggy” look. Just like a bad haircut it will grow back. Do not assume your landscaper knows this needs to be done. Many simply do not understand how important this is. If it does not get done in the spring the look of your lawn will suffer.
Many of you will not be required to do a cut down or buzz cut but for those that do we have some changes in your watering program that should help to expedite the “grow in” of your Zoysia.
For those lawns that need a buzz cut or a complete cut down watering after the process should be done as though the lawn was a new install. Water every day for 10 minutes per zone. Practice this for 7 to 10 days or until you see green grass beginning to grow again. Then reduce the watering to your normal frequency. The cut down is extremely stressful and keeping the stems and runners moist during the recovery is critical. We have found in this situation a daily short watering is the best way to ward off additional damage.
This extra watering may generate more weed growth but we will work diligently to correct this as soon as the turf is strong enough to handle herbicides.
Temperatures will also play a key role in how quickly the lawn recovers. Zoysia grows extremely slow in cool weather. We recommend waiting to do your cut down or buzz cut until the overnight temperatures are averaging 70 degrees. The forecast is that March temperatures will be about average to slightly above average. You may want to plan your cut down for around mid-March.
When doing a cut down or a buzz cut we do recommend that you bag the grass that is removed. There will be a lot of material removed and leaving it on the ground will smother the grass resulting in excessive damage.
March is when we do the granular spring feeding. We would prefer to fertilize after the cut down or buzz cut is completed. We will do our best to communicate with all our Zoysia customers prior to doing your granular fertilization application. If you have any questions or concerns please call our office or if you rather we can schedule a consultation.
Making Dry Soil Wet Again!
When Florida soil gets dry it becomes very hydrophobic. This mean it will repel water not allowing it to penetrate. The water will simply flow to the lowest point in that area or it will flow to an area that has not dried out and then soak in. If a spot in your lawn or shrubs has dried out it will take extra water to get it wet again. Just running the irrigation more for small spots can create issues with the rest of the property and can result in a very costly water bill.
The oscillating garden sprinkler that does a side to side arch seems to work the best, another option is the water ring. Both can be purchased at your local garden center or hardware store. These sprinklers water very slowly. It can take 4 to 6 hours to get 3/4 of an inch on the ground when the arch type sprinkler is doing 180-degree coverage. Just keep in mind when doing this, no matter how long the water runs the object is the volume that gets on the ground. (You get a lot more water out of a fire hose compared to a garden hose when ran the same amount of time, is the analogy I often use.) When you run your irrigation system you have many heads each putting out 2 to 5 gallons per minute. Even at that rate they generally run for nearly an hour. The garden sprinkler is only one sprinkler that is putting out about 0.5 gallon per minute. Do not compare how long your whole property irrigation system runs to the time needed for a slow flowing garden sprinkler. You can even use a rain gauge and let the system run for an hour and see how much water is on the ground and then calculate the time needed for 3/4 inch. Lastly, before turning off the water, check the soil in the problem area to make sure it got wet. You should fine the first 6 inches of soil moist, if not you will need to water until you get there. A large part of your initial water will run off the hydrophobic soil. This is why slow watering is so critical. Sometimes I will run the sprinkler for an hour and then wait an hour before turning it back on to pre-wet the soil.
Once the soil is wet again your irrigation should handle the situation as long as the original cause for lack of water has been addressed. If not you might want to watch the area and add extra water at the first sign of wilt so the soil does not get hydrophobic again. Continue this practice until the rains start again.
WARNING! When turf is damaged by drought and the stress from just 1 day to long without moisture it can take 6 months to recover if the event does not occur again while it recovers. With St. Augustine, all the roots will die and it has to grow a completely new root system making recovery extremely slow.
How / Why Does A Mosquito Treatment Work?
The species of Mosquito most common in our area is a very poor flyer. They can only fly a few feet and then must rest. This difficulty in controlling flight is why you seldom see them on breezy mornings and nights. It is also why they typically rest in areas protected from the wind during the day. These are generally shaded areas. Female Mosquitos produce 30-150 eggs about every 2 days. The blood meal is required to nourish the eggs.
When searching for food the mosquito will follow carbon dioxide flumes from anything with lungs. As they near the source of carbon dioxide they add heat detection to the tracking process. Finally, when very close to the target they use sight. Mosquitos are extremely east to kill with pesticide so very low does will get results.
When we treat for Mosquitos we use a machine designed for the job. We select products that are proven to offer the best control. We add our knowledge of how a Mosquito lives and what it needs to thrive. Using a "mist" carried by air we are able to get the product in areas where the Mosquito rests. It is applied at a high concentration so it will last longer.
Also through application the product is blocked from the primary things that degrade pesticides which are sunlight and moisture. At the time of treatment virtually every Mosquito on your property is dead. As they flutter in from untreated areas they have to rest. As they rest they contact the products and die. So, you have a treated zone from the property line to the home.
The first 2 weeks the property will have very few Mosquitos. The third week you might see a few. During the 4th week the products come to the end of their life and we return to protect your family and pets for another 30 days. The standard program begins March and ends in October. Many of our customers get the treatments all year long because they quickly discover how nice it is to sit on the patio in the evening and not have swarms of Mosquitos attacking them.
Biting Midge & Non-Biting Midge
Non-biting midges are flies that begin life in water. Many of us will call these pest "Blind Mosquitos". They have a similar life cycle and do look somewhat the same as Mosquitos, but are very different insects. The midge in the larva stage spends it life in water and is a very important part of the food chain for aquatic animals. Non-biting Midges do not feed on blood but can be a great nuisance. Since they are in the fly family they are very good flyers. You will often see them by the hundreds resting in the shaded areas like eaves and arches during the day. At dawn and dusk these insects swarm looking for mates. Because there are so many of them and they are good fliers a Mosquito treatment will only offer a couple days relief. This pest generally will have a huge hatch in the spring and then the numbers subside as summer comes on. However, there are many species of midge so smaller hatches will occur all through the summer months.
Biting midges are flies as well. Some hatch from the sand and others start life in water. Many of us call these pests No-See-ums or Sand Fleas / Flies. They are the worst in wooded areas and along waterways. A Mosquito treatment will provide very little relief from these pests because they are such good flyers.
While all midges are a great nuisance they do not commonly act as a vector of disease. The best protection against these pests is clothing and repellants.
The color and size of all these pests will vary by species, the general body structure will be the same.