Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Replacing sod prohibited under new water restrictions

By Pam Brown, Urban Horticulture Extension Agent

The new water restrictions released a few weeks ago by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) state that lawn renovations are to be avoided. There has been some confusion about this issue. Now SWFWMD has clarified this by stating that there is a prohibition against planting sod for lawn renovation, and they have asked governments to enforce this point. Robyn Felix, a spokes women for SWFWMD has stated that anything that causes you to need more water is unacceptable.

We sometimes forget that Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties are suffering from drought and this fact puts our drinking water at risk. We are now in the dry months of the year and do not expect any significant rain until next summer.

All this being said, some exceptions do exist. You can plant sod in communities that use reclaimed water that comes from a municipal treatment plant. This does not include irrigation water that comes from surface water sources like lakes and ponds, and also does not include well water. Also, sod can be planted for new construction homes and along roadways that have bare soil.

Grass does not grow as much during our colder weather, so waiting until warmer weather is a probably good idea. However, homeowner associations may ask you to re-sod if your lawn looks unacceptable. Ms. Felix said that SWFWMD will intercede with the homeowner association if the homeowner sends them a copy of their citation or letter requiring a renovated lawn.

Please see my November 4th blog post below for discussion of the complete water restrictions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coming Soon to a Landscape Near You….Yellowing Leaves on Hibiscus and Gardenias.

By Andy Wilson

It’s understandably alarming to a home gardener. A hibiscus or gardenia plant that looked fine a couple of weeks ago suddenly has many bright yellow leaves on it. What could it be? Nothing about the care of the plant changed, so what’s causing the yellowing?

A common cause of this type of leaf yellowing in late fall, winter and spring in our area is fluctuating winter temperatures. Just the recent (and somewhat unseasonable) dip of temperatures down into the 40’s was enough to trigger this yellowing on gardenias and hibiscus. This yellowing does no permanent damage to the plant and if it is otherwise healthy it will more than replace the lost leaves when vigorous growth resumes next spring.

Since we often experience a number of these warm-to-cool-and-back-again cycles until late spring, you may see repeated appearances of this type of yellowing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Landscape Watering Restrictions Tightened

Pam Brown, Urban Horticulture Extension Agent

The continuing drought conditions prompted the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) to tighten landscape watering restrictions for Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco counties. SWFWMD reports that we are entering the dry season with extremely low water supplies in storage to cover our water needs. Two years of drought has left the District with a rainfall deficit of 16 inches. And, on top of this news, forecasts predict drier than normal conditions through next spring.

The current one day per week watering restrictions continue in effect with several additional restrictions:

      • Restricting the time for hand-watering or micro-irrigation for non-lawn landscaping to before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
      • Postponing turfgrass renovation, such as replacing lawns.
        Reducing the 60-day allowance for new plant establishment.

      • Reducing the time aesthetic fountains and waterfalls may.
      • Requiring water utilities and other local enforcement officials to increase their enforcement efforts, including requirements to issue citations without having first issued a warning.

      To access the whole press release from SWFWMD on the Internet, go to:

      The city of St. Petersburg has slightly different watering restrictions for water customers. Information can be found on the Internet at:

      Customers who use reclaimed water for irrigation will have different restrictions depending on the source of their reclaimed water. Please check with your supplier for current information regarding reclaimed water.

      Pinellas County:
      St. Petersburg:

      Water is a precious commodity that we need to conserve at every opportunity.