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Sprinklers turned off

Discussion in 'Florida Lawn Care Forum' started by williams lcm, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    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.
  2. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    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.
  3. ArTurf

    ArTurf LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Ark
    Messages: 4,388

    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.
  4. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    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.

  5. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    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.
  6. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    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.
  7. jvanvliet

    jvanvliet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,944

    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.

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