Though the average temperatures throughout South Florida remain mild most of the year, we can still experience a few frosts on the coldest nights of winter. The needs of our lawns and plants change as their growth slows and as warm-season grasses like St. Augustine and Bermuda go dormant. One of the biggest changes is the frequency with which you need to water your lawn. Winterization of an irrigation system here in South Florida looks different than in colder parts of the country, but is still an important component of prepping your landscape.
Irrigation System Tips for the Cooler months
- Change your sprinkler settings: We don’t need to shut our water completely off, since any threat of cold is short-lived. However, we do need to adjust how frequently we water our grass and plants. Slower growth means the grass uses much less water during the winter, so if you leave your sprinklers on the same schedule as in the summer, your lawn will likely drown. Instead, let your lawn tell you when it needs to be watered. When you notice the blades don’t bounce back as well as normal, it means they are beginning to get brittle and need a watering. This will likely be about once a week, but each lawn of grass is different depending on species, soil type, and the weather.
- Shut off the water source for sprinklers in the event that a frost or freeze is predicted: While it’s highly unlikely that it will remain cold long enough for water to freeze in the pipes or hose, it’s still a good idea to shut your system off. This way, your sprinklers will not go off during these low temperatures and coat your yard with water overnight–our tropical plants won’t appreciate being freezing cold AND wet at the same time. The spray could cause significant leaf damage to plants and grasses not adapted to cold.
Luckily we do not have to worry about prolonged freezes, so blowing out your irrigation system (which primarily consists of running powerful air through the pipes to expel all the water) is unnecessary. Our soil never gets cold enough to allow the pipes that are buried underground to freeze. However, a good practice to protect our hoses and pipes is to cover any above-ground fixtures with insulation through December, January, and February. Just like we recommend covering your tropical plants and shrubs with frost blankets during cold snaps (you can visit our previous post “Using Frost Blankets to Protect Your Plants” for more information), you should also take steps to protect your above-ground plumbing and irrigation. Wrap exposed pipes with a layer of foam or fiberglass insulation wrap, and then cover the insulation with pipe wrap or metallic tape that will protect it from rain and breaking down in the sun.
Our South Florida lawns are relatively low-maintenance come winter, as opposed to most northern lawns. That doesn’t mean we can completely ignore them though. Taking proper steps to prepare for winter and properly winterize the irrigation system will help our lawns stay healthy through these cold months and bounce back more beautifully than ever come the warming of springtime.
Big Earth Landscape Supply is your one-stop shop for everything you need for a beautiful lawn. From garden tools to sod and turf grass; from fertilizers to frost blankets. to ensure that your warm-weather lawn endures the chilly winter and emerges green and beautiful, shop online today.