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Healthy Lawn…Healthy Life: Celebrate and Conserve April is National Lawn Care Month and National Garden Month

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FLORIDA – March 26, 2024 – We’ve all heard the expression, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” As Spring gives way to what seems like an obsession with keeping our landscaping as green as our neighbor’s, many of us take that expression literally.

Since April is both National Garden Month and National Lawn Care Month, it’s a great time to both celebrate the many benefits of gardening and a healthy lawn and consider a few cost-saving tips to keep our water bills in check.

Just like blood to a human being or oil to an engine, water is the lifeblood of a healthy garden or landscape. It’s the pathway for nutrients to flow from the soil to your plants and lawn and is a critical factor in photosynthesis which generates oxygen.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), research shows that gardening offers numerous physical and mental health benefits. Spending time in nature reduces stress and gardening can provide a low-impact form of exercise, helping to build strength and endurance.

Did you know that your yard is an “environmental hero?” So says the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). Sure, that healthy grass in your lawn or nearby park produces lots of oxygen, but it also slows soil erosion and water runoff, traps carbon dioxide, and provides habitat for hundreds of different insect, animal and plant species.

Since irrigation is a major contributor to water use, the Florida Governmental Utility Authority (FGUA) offers these tips to help you conserve water, support the environment and save money, all while ensuring that your lawn and gardens flourish and bring you years of joy!

Timing is (almost) everything. Run your irrigation system during the early morning or evening hours, when less water is lost due to evaporation given the cooler temperatures.

Hunt down those sneaky leaks. Look for water running on sidewalks or over curbs after the irrigation system is off, which could indicate that a valve is leaking or not fully closing. Check for pooling of water while the system is on, which could mean a broken or cracked underground pipe.

Be frugal with your fertilizer. Consider reducing the use of fertilizers, which encourage rapid growth requiring higher water consumption. More frequent application of fertilizer in small doses may be a better approach.

Get with the program. If your sprinkler system is automated, program your timer to water in two or three shorter cycles rather than a single, long cycle. This allows the water to better soak into the ground between the cycles.

It just makes sense. Consider installing or checking rain sensors which shut down the irrigation system in the event of rainfall. If you don’t have sensors and want to spare the expense, simply manually turn off your system when it rains…but don’t forget to turn it back on!

Bust those water blockers. Make sure tall grass, gutter downspouts, ground covers or shrubs aren’t blocking or deflecting the spray from your sprinklers. Even grass as short as three inches can deflect spray from ground level or short pop-up sprinkler heads, resulting in uneven and wasteful watering.

The final word. In all cases, always comply with local watering restrictions.

The NALP’s LoveYourLandscape.org website has extensive information on “making every drop count,” and the National Gardening Association – found at Garden.org – is a great resource for both beginning and proficient gardeners.

The Florida Governmental Utility Authority (FGUA) owns and operates more than 98 water and wastewater utility systems in 14 Florida counties, providing service to more than 120,000 customer connections. Counties served by FGUA include Citrus, Hillsborough, Lake, Marion, Orange, Pasco, Polk, Seminole, Hardee, Lee, Alachua, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia.

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