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williams lcm
12-18-2011, 08:31 PM
This is the second customer this week that has decided to have the sprinklers turned off for good. They dont want to pay the high water bill. They both use to have beautiful St. Augustine lawns that where fertilized and watered. Anyone seeing a trend like this?

Florida Gardener
12-18-2011, 08:40 PM
Nope.
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Keith
12-18-2011, 11:23 PM
Yes. I have mentioned it here before. It's been going on for a number of years now. For me it's been several of my elderly customers. I kind of feel lucky. The lawns have gone to crap. They have curbed watering and cut out fertilizing and pest control, but they have kept me. I'd prefer to mow all nice lawns, but these still pay.

jvanvliet
12-19-2011, 07:47 AM
Yep, in some areas people have turned off their sprinklers to save on the water bill.

BTW, if day time temperatures remain in the low 70's or cooler, irrigation should be reduced to 3/4" percipitation once per week.

Landscape Poet
12-19-2011, 08:04 AM
Yep, in some areas people have turned off their sprinklers to save on the water bill.

BTW, if day time temperatures remain in the low 70's or cooler, irrigation should be reduced to 3/4" percipitation once per week.

Not sure with the distance between us if this would work for all - but I generally use day light savings time in Fall as my mark to kick my personal irrigation system back to once a week (which would deliver the 1/2 a inch to 3/4 of inch a week).
If I really watch the turf during the winter for when to water I have gone over 14 days without the irrigation system turning on during this time of year without any signs of wilt.

Landscape Poet
12-19-2011, 08:13 AM
This is the second customer this week that has decided to have the sprinklers turned off for good. They dont want to pay the high water bill. They both use to have beautiful St. Augustine lawns that where fertilized and watered. Anyone seeing a trend like this?

I have seen this before as Keith has said too. There will always be those who think they will save so much by doing such things. What they fail to realize is that maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually the perfect storm will hit and they will experience a pest issue, a water stress issue when no natural water occurs, excessive weeds, and eventually lose big sections if not the entire lawn. Any SA that does remain gets choked out by the bermuda that has invaded by this point.
Bottom line - after resodding their entire property (or at least the front) after threats from a HOA - they start to understand that saving a little on pest control, fert and water, really did not save them any money in the long run and they had a crappy looking lawn along the way.

Kiril
12-19-2011, 08:13 AM
Does anyone actually calculate how much water to apply, or is it always guess work?

Landscape Poet
12-19-2011, 08:19 AM
Does anyone actually calculate how much water to apply, or is it always guess work?

Nothing too fancy on my own lawn but I do the catch can method to get a estimate on how much my irrigation system is delivering in a given amount of time.
I know there are several irrigation companies that will do soil moisture sensors or will estimate your irrigation system bases off of pressure from the head, but I have yet to have but one customer actually have one of these companies do this.
In general however most homeowners down here have no idea and stick with whatever formula the real estate agent or somebody else, like rotors get a hour, pop ups get 25 minutes.

RussellB
12-19-2011, 08:35 AM
I found out first hand on my centipede lawn this year how much damage can be done without watering. We are putting a son though college and helping my other son along. My wife kept complaining about the water bill so I just about completely stopped watering. Last summer was super hot and dry in Myrtle beach. My lawn looks absolutely horrible. I spent the weekend replacing my sprinkler heads and hopefully I can save the lawn. A quick way to measure the amount of water used to irrigate is to place tuna fish cans in the yard. They are 1 inch deep and should be filled once per week.
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Keith
12-19-2011, 10:33 AM
You have people who take their chances by not watering enough, just to prove a point. What I am talking about is a whole different animal. People who do not have to the money to pay the water bill at all, and fully realize the consequenses up front.

I've got two or three elderly people that things are so tight for, they know they are going to lose the lawn, but don't have the money to pay $100+ a month to water. As I look back, you could see the pattern start to develop 5+ years ago. In hindsight, it's pretty obvious what little money they had was probably either in savings and for over half a decade they have not been making any money off their principal at all, and/or they lost a bunch in 2008 in equities. Watering the lawn is a luxury they can't afford.

Kiril
12-19-2011, 10:48 AM
You have people who take their chances by not watering enough, just to prove a point. What I am talking about is a whole different animal. People who do not have to the money to pay the water bill at all, and fully realize the consequenses up front.

I've got two or three elderly people that things are so tight for, they know they are going to lose the lawn, but don't have the money to pay $100+ a month to water. As I look back, you could see the pattern start to develop 5+ years ago. In hindsight, it's pretty obvious what little money they had was probably either in savings and for over half a decade they have not been making any money off their principal at all, and/or they lost a bunch in 2008 in equities. Watering the lawn is a luxury they can't afford.

Two options ....

1) Build your soil and turf to be more drought tolerant. This is especially the case in sandy soils with very little water holding capacity. Also determine exactly what the turf needs are .... and this does not mean irrigating at 100%+ PET either or throwing a couple of tuna cans in the yard and timing how long it takes to fill them up.

2) Get rid of the turf and use regionally appropriate plants that need no (or very little) supplemental water.

Landscape Poet
12-19-2011, 12:15 PM
Two options ....

1) Build your soil and turf to be more drought tolerant. This is especially the case in sandy soils with very little water holding capacity. Also determine exactly what the turf needs are .... and this does not mean irrigating at 100%+ PET either or throwing a couple of tuna cans in the yard and timing how long it takes to fill them up.

2) Get rid of the turf and use regionally appropriate plants that need no (or very little) supplemental water.

However either of this options do not sound like they would work for Keith's clients .....as rebuilding the soil would almost certainly be out of their price range if cutbacks in spending are the goal.

Option two is more likely to be in most peoples budget and can be done by the home owner if they plan it out and stage it out correctly. I have a older couple that have been doing this gradually for years...their main goal was to eliminate turf as they knew they were getting older and would not be able to keep doing it themselves. So they purchased a few plants here and there, propagation was used where it could be...and now they have literally three sections of turf that are less than 200 square foot - They have me mow it for them when they catch me in the area mowing the neighbors and I have time to fit them in.

ArTurf
12-19-2011, 12:29 PM
I am not in Florida but I will give you my take on this. Getting homeowners to water properly is one of my biggest headaches, some too much & others not enough.

From what I know about Florida you are mainly dealing with sandy soils, St Aug that doesn't go totally dormant all year. Winter is your dry time of the year? With the cooler temps and the grass slowing down and lower evaporation rate, you should be able to cut back on the water. But I realize with the sandy soil and no rainfall you cannot totally eliminate it. Maybe you can scale back the watering to an acceptable level that would not drive the water bill up. The homeowner will most likely not be able to determine this so be prepared to help them.

Ric
12-19-2011, 12:37 PM
Two options ....

1) Build your soil and turf to be more drought tolerant. This is especially the case in sandy soils with very little water holding capacity. Also determine exactly what the turf needs are .... and this does not mean irrigating at 100%+ PET either or throwing a couple of tuna cans in the yard and timing how long it takes to fill them up.

2) Get rid of the turf and use regionally appropriate plants that need no (or very little) supplemental water.

Kiril

1) I sub a lot of Top Dressing to Fl landscape for the very reason you point out. With even the standard Top Dressing of Compost, I see a great response in a matter of two weeks. The Compost has Great both Chemical and Water holding power. By using a bridge program I am getting the best of both worlds.

2) I am cloning Perennial Peanuts to do exactly what you are Talking about. Perennial Peanuts are drought tolerant and also a No Mow or minimal Mow Ground cover that does an excellent job of controlling Erosion control because of deep roots. While costly to install, it is still a perfect ground cover for steep Banks and other hard or impossible to mow areas. The long term saves justify the up front install cost.


Our Calicarious Sand has such a high pH, that Bahia sod (the most common non irrigated turf in my area) doesn't last long in our soil. Common Bermuda is drought tolerant and is a very inexpensive (cheap) replacement for Bahia yards gone bad. Bermuda can take the high pH soil where Bahia can't.


I might be old school but changing Political and Economic factors must be dealed with if I am to keep up with the times. Therefore my business model is taking a new approach.

.

Keith
12-19-2011, 01:17 PM
Two options ....

1) Build your soil and turf to be more drought tolerant. This is especially the case in sandy soils with very little water holding capacity. Also determine exactly what the turf needs are .... and this does not mean irrigating at 100%+ PET either or throwing a couple of tuna cans in the yard and timing how long it takes to fill them up.

2) Get rid of the turf and use regionally appropriate plants that need no (or very little) supplemental water.

Would work for the frugal, but the elderly poor have a hard time stringing an extra $100 a month together. You know it's bad when you show up on the 29th of the month and they give you your check and they ask you not to deposit it until the 1st because they don't have enough to cover it. They're not able to do much of the work themselves. What do you do? They don't pay much, but they don't require much either. So the $ per hour is not low. These are a couple of people that I have had for years. You just have to work with them. Half the other lawns in this subdivision look exactly the same, so I'm not the only one dealing with it.

Landscape Poet
12-19-2011, 04:43 PM
Would work for the frugal, but the elderly poor have a hard time stringing an extra $100 a month together. You know it's bad when you show up on the 29th of the month and they give you your check and they ask you not to deposit it until the 1st because they don't have enough to cover it. They're not able to do much of the work themselves. What do you do? They don't pay much, but they don't require much either. So the $ per hour is not low. These are a couple of people that I have had for years. You just have to work with them. Half the other lawns in this subdivision look exactly the same, so I'm not the only one dealing with it.


Ric, FL Landscape, and myself I were talking about this the other day. Sometimes these type of clients are your most profitable per hour clients. While it is fun to walk away from a perfectly manicured property - but the inputs are not always in our favor which you look at your gross per hour. These type of customers are the ones that usually never complain about anything as long as you show up and ensure the turf/weeds are cut.

jvanvliet
12-19-2011, 06:53 PM
Not sure with the distance between us if this would work for all - but I generally use day light savings time in Fall as my mark to kick my personal irrigation system back to once a week (which would deliver the 1/2 a inch to 3/4 of inch a week).
If I really watch the turf during the winter for when to water I have gone over 14 days without the irrigation system turning on during this time of year without any signs of wilt.

Michael George Washington Carver Geist?

I'm in South Palm Beach, just a little North of the Broward County line.

I am more inclined to use 30 day temperature and humidity projections as a gage. I don't think your methodology is wrong.

In the past, when temperatures have remained well below 70 in the day, I've had my system turned off for a month. Cutting back customer irrigation to 1/2 - 3/4 inch once a week is reasonably prudent and doesn't require constant monitoring.

Tearing out turf and installing other ground cover is not always a viable solution economically, or when HOA's determine ground cover and limit ornamental plantings.