Outdoor Water Conservation Tips – Your Questions Answered

Katherine Munson

Q: Why is conserving water outdoors important?

A: Typically, outdoor water use accounts for about 50 percent of water consumed by households, so it’s important to pay attention to your outdoor water use. If using a permanent inground irrigation system, conduct regular maintenance to ensure the system is working properly and make seasonal adjustments throughout the year. If using a non-permanent above-ground sprinkler, only run the sprinkler when you’re home and use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off. Water slowly to reduce runoff and to allow deep penetration.

Q: What should I look for to tell if my inground irrigation system is working properly?

A: Many inground irrigation systems run in the early morning or late at night when homeowners can’t see them. Manually test run your system to visually check for broken or misdirected sprinkler heads, where water is shooting into the air or into the road or driveway. Also look for areas where water may not be spraying evenly across your lawn.

Q: Does it matter when I water my lawn?

A: Yes, there are always year-round water conservation measures in our region that designate the days and times you’re allowed to irrigate your landscape to help protect our shared water resources. Stricter water shortage restrictions also may be put in place temporarily due to dry conditions and water supply concerns. You should only water on your designated day and only if needed. You can learn more about local water restrictions at WaterMatters.org/Restrictions.

Q: What should I check on my irrigation controller to make sure it’s set to water more efficiently?

A: There are three main elements to check on your irrigation controller — the start time, run time and schedule. The start time refers to when your sprinkler system will turn on. Only one start time is needed to initiate watering all irrigation zones. The run time refers to how long each zone in your system will run. Check with your local UF/IFAS Extension office for run time recommendations. The schedule refers to the days of the week your system will turn on. Always check local water restrictions before setting your start time and schedule at WaterMatters.org/Restrictions.

Q: Can smart irrigation controllers help save water outdoors?

A: Yes, smart irrigation controllers help to reduce outdoor water use by automatically adjusting your irrigation run times and/or frequency depending on local weatherand other site conditions. Smart controllers are an especially great option if you travel often or live in Florida only part of the year, and still want your irrigation system to adjust to seasonal changes. If properly installed and programmed, a smart irrigation controller can result in water savings of up to 30-40 percent during dry conditions and up to 70-90 percent during the rainy season.

Q: Where can I find more water conservation tips?

A: To find more water conservation tips, visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/Water101.


Katherine Munson
Lead Conservation Education Coordinator

As lead conservation education coordinator, Katherine manages the District’s youth education program and assists in water conservation outreach efforts. Katherine holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies concentrating in Environmental Education and Communication from Green Mountain College. She also holds a master’s degree in Global Sustainability concentrating on water sustainability from the University of South Florida.

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