Archives for Irrigation

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6 Ways to Practice Water Conservation

Between 30 and 60 percent of all drinking water is used to water lawns and landscapes. Watering of residential landscapes accounts for an estimated 50 percent of water wastage. It’s due to improper watering practices, overwatering, and poorly adjusted or maintained irrigation systems. It results in pooling, puddling, erosion and runoff that can contribute to algae blooms in waterways as fertilizer is washed away. It also drives up water bills. Consider the following ways to conserve water.

Low Moisture Plantings

There’s a myriad of plants that survive and thrive on low amounts of moisture. They store excess water in stems and leaves or have fuzzy stems that allow them to make optimal use of morning dew. Some examples are moss roses, yarrow, sedum, black-eyed-susan, coneflower, lavender, gaillardia, and gazania. There are also decorative ornamental grasses.

Landscaping with Native Plants

Trees, flowers and shrubs that are native to South Florida have evolved and adapted to the area’s unique conditions. They’re able to withstand drought, high winds and are even resistant to salt spray. They encompass butterfly weed, beach sunflower, gumbo limbo and coco plum trees, the yaupon shrub, buttonsage evergreen, and bee balm.

Irrigation Systems

Make sure that irrigation systems are equipped with a moisture meter that measures the amount of water in the soil. Install low volume irrigation systems whenever possible to deliver water to root systems rather than on top of the plants.

Use a Rain Barrel

Rain barrels collect rain water runoff from structures. Water is channeled to the rain barrel where it’s saved for later use. It can be utilized to water the landscape and even houseplants.

Create a Rain Garden

Rain water runoff from structures, gutters and driveways is directed to the water garden that will spring to vibrant life when the water arrives.

Mulch Existing Plantings

Applying mulch helps retain moisture, impedes evaporation, reduces weed growth, and improves soil as it breaks down.

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Westport RTM again eyeing leaf blower restrictions

5 Winter Herbs for South Florida

South Florida gardeners are fortunate in the range of herbs that they can grow year-round. Fresh and tasty, herbs add flavor and zest to any cuisine. Dozens of culinary herbs will flourish in South Florida, even in the winter, due to the mild climate. Some will also grow during the summer months, provided they have some shade to protect them from the intense summer sun.

Winter Herbs

There are 5 basic herbs that can be planted in autumn and harvested during the winter months.


The perennial will grow year-round, but does especially well in winter. It’s used to flavor soups, sauces and dips, or sprinkled on scrambled eggs. Chives can be mixed with butter to use when cooking steak, roasted chicken, fish, and vegetables.


The annual will flourish during cooler months. It’s a popular spice in Indian, Latin, Mexican and Spanish dishes. Coriander is used in marinades, sauces, soups, curries, and meat rubs.


It’s a perennial, with the seeds and leaves used in herbal teas, as a garnish and in salads. The stems can be used in soups.


A biannual, it will thrive in the winter months. Use the leaves in pasta or meat dishes, in vegetables, salads, sauces, and as a garnish. Commercially, the seeds are used as a fragrance in soaps, perfumes and cosmetics. The root, seeds and leaves are used in the manufacturing of medicine.


A perennial, it can be planted Oct. through Feb. in South Florida. Use the leaves and flowers to flavor soups, season meat, and sprinkled on vegetables. Some use it in batter and dough mixtures. Commercially, the leaves, flowers and oil are utilized in food production and to manufacture medicine.

Planning Ahead

For those that like to plan their next garden endeavor early, there are 10 herbs that every South Florida gardener should try. They can be cultivated in the ground, in raised beds or in containers.

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lemon balm
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

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8 Fruit Trees That Grow Well in South Florida

Many people are planting a fruit tree or two in their backyard. They’re fun to grow and provide healthy fresh fruit. While the South Florida climate is great for some fruits, not all fruit trees will grow well in the subtropical environment. The following are some that will thrive. Bear in mind that many fruits are self-pollinators, but others may need a second tree to set fruit.


Not to be confused with California avocados, the “Florida avocado” has bright green skin. It’s lower in fat and calories than those grown in California. The Simmons variety produces well and grows 20-25 ft. tall. Harvesting is July-Sept.

Custard Apple

Even the skin can be consumed, but the seeds are highly toxic. Trees begin to fruit at 3-5 years of age and harvest runs from winter through spring.

Dragon Fruit

Harvest time is early summer to mid-autumn. A member of the cactus family, it’s a vine-like tree that can grow up to 20 ft. tall if not controlled.

Dwarf Banana

The Dwarf Cavendish is the most popular for cultivating in South Florida and can be harvested year-round. It’s resistant to disease, cold tolerant, and will typically fruit 9-12 months after its established. Trees can be damaged by wind and need approximately 5 inches of water per month.


Extremely sweet, harvest time is May-early July. Look for varieties that mature at a smaller size than commercial species. It’s not salt tolerant.


The highly aromatic fruit can be harvested year-round, with peak production in the summer. Don’t plant near overhead power or utility lines.


It requires an average of 7-11 months for a tree to bear fruit after it becomes established. Harvest is in summer to fall.


The fruit is typically harvested from July-Nov. It can take up to 7 months for fruit to mature. Trees begin after they’ve been established for 2-3 yrs.

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What is Espaliering?

Espaliering is an ancient practice that dates back to the Egyptians around 1400 B.C. It was also used by monks in the Middle Ages to grow fruit in monasteries and within castle courtyards.

A Type of Pruning

Espaliering is a pruning and tying technique that trains trees and bushes to grow into specific shapes, essentially forming the skeleton of the plant. The technique is especially useful for fruit trees in home gardens where they’re trained against a wall or trellis. Espaliering shouldn’t be confused with the creation of topiary.

Multiple Benefits

The practice is an especially popular technique in small environments since the resulting creations take up less space. In the small home garden, it’s performed for functional purposes and provides other benefits.

  • Grow more fruit in less space
  • Provides cross pollination
  • Trees bear fruit earlier
  • Fewer pest problems
  • Harvesting is much easier

Great for Bushes

The shapes can also be performed with bushes when individuals want a specific species in the yard, but are short on space. They can form highly decorative silhouettes that add interest to any space.

Species to Espalier

A variety of plants that will grow in South Florida are good candidates for espaliering and are amenable to the process. They include bougainvillea, camellia, holly, magnolia, pomegranate, witch hazel, and viburnum. Some types of evergreens can also be espaliered.

Different Forms

Six different methods/forms of espaliering can be performed. They are:

  • Cordoned – the most traditional, in which branches grow horizontally from a central trunk
  • Palmetto Verrier – Branches are shaped into a U and turned up at the ends
  • Fan – Branches are trained at a 45-degree angle from a central trunk
  • Candelabra – Several vertical branches rise at intervals from a horizontal branch
  • Informal – Near natural shape, but still from a single trunk
  • Belgian French – 3 or more V-shaped espaliers are woven together – or two trees

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Residential Landscaping

9 Ways to Use Vines in the Landscape

Vines can be a useful addition to any environment. They provide beauty and interest to the landscape, while providing an important source of sustenance for pollinators and a variety of native species. Planting a vine in South Florida doesn’t automatically equate to rampant growth – unless that’s the desired outcome. There are some very well behaved annual and perennial vines.

Camouflage Unsightly Items

Modern living requires electrical boxes, trash receptacles and generators. Vines can hide these by letting them grow over a simple piece of lattice work.

Cover a Fence

Covering an old or unattractive fence with a vine is one of the easiest ways to put off replacing the fence or beautifying it.

Create a Focal Point

Individuals can create an accent point of an arbor, pergola or trellis by letting a flowering vine cover it. By planting annual vines such as morning glories, individuals can change the appearance from season to season or year to year.

Grow a Flower Teepee

A fun project for families with children, simply create the framework for the vine to climb upon. This works best with annual vine species.

Minimize Erosion

There are any number of vines that are perfectly happy running across the ground rather than climbing upward. They’re excellent for minimizing erosion on slopes and hillsides, thwarting weed growth, and covering areas where grass is reluctant to grow or are difficult to reach with a mower.

Protect Privacy

Vines can be trained to grow over a deck, porch, freestyle screen, or even up guidewires to make activities private from prying eyes.

Throw Some Shade

Create a shady spot to enjoy the landscape or even provide a canine with some essential shade from the hot South Florida sun.

Train a Vine Tree

Some species of vines can be trained to grow in a tree-like form. They don’t achieve a great height, but make a unique addition to any landscape.

Vertical Vegetable Gardening

A number of vegetables will accommodate growing vertically rather than outward. They include species of beans, peas, strawberries and tomatoes. Heavier plants such as grapes, cucumbers, melons and squash will need a fairly strong framework to grow upon.

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What to Know About Commercial Irrigation

Professionally landscaped environments will use an irrigation system to ensure plantings receive the correct amount of water and its delivered exactly when and where it’s needed. The systems utilize underground pipes to deliver water to irrigation heads that are recessed below the surface of the soil. The heads rise up during the irrigation process to disperse the water onto the surface.

Early Irrigation Methods

Surface irrigation systems, sometimes known as gravity irrigation, have been employed for thousands of years. It relies on furrows made in the soil to carry water to where its wanted or through flooding a particular area. The system dates back to 6000 B.C. where it was practiced in Egypt and Mesopotamia. It was an effective, but incredibly wasteful, method of irrigation.

Improvements in Technology

A professionally installed irrigation system will be programmable according to local needs. It will typically include sensors that can determine the amount of moisture in the soil. The system will be activated when it’s dry enough and the sensors can also ascertain when it’s rained by the amount of moisture in the ground. Even though it’s widely used, much of the water is still wasted due to runoff and evaporation. The U.S. uses approximately 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater each day, just on agricultural irrigation. Up to 35 percent of water withdrawals for irrigation purposes are unsustainable.

Drip Irrigation Saves Water and Money

A drip irrigation system is the most efficient form of watering. It can be employed in residential lawns, commercial landscapes, and agricultural operations. It delivers water slowly, at ground level, rather than spraying it into the air. It’s a highly efficient and economical irrigation solution. Drip irrigation has a 90 percent efficiency rate, compared to 65 to 75 percent efficiency of traditional spray irrigation systems.

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Turf Disease

Turf grass is widely used for applications ranging from lawns and athletic fields to golf courses and polo fields. The primary reason is its ability to withstand a high level of foot traffic. It has great recuperative abilities, but it can also fall prey to diseases. In South Florida, most turf grass diseases are the result of fungal growth due to weather conditions.

Brown Patch Fungus

The disease is most obvious during the months of November to May and is especially aggressive. Particularly prevalent when daytime temperatures are over 80° F and nighttime temperatures are above 70° F, it presents as large patches of brown grass with a darker outer ring. Causative factors include high rainfall and humidity, along with excessive irrigation, that leaves the grass damp for more than 48 hours.

Dollar Spot

The disease takes its name from the silver dollar-sized spots that occur throughout the grass. Occurring during warm weather, there will be lesions on the grass blades within the spots. The disease thrives in soil with low nitrogen levels.

Root Rot

All types of grass are subject to root rot and the warm and humid climate conditions are conducive to its appearance. It proliferates when grass is wet for too long and there’s minimal air circulation.

Fairy Ring

It’s particularly difficult to eradicate. It can infect turf for many years before it’s noticed. It presents as dark green or brown patches of grass on the surface that can reach up to 20 ft. in diameter. It gets its name from the mushrooms that sometimes grow on the edges of the rings. Its spread via root systems.

Rust Fungus

The fungi weaken grass, making it more susceptible to other types of diseases. Typically appearing in the spring and fall when moisture levels are higher, it likes shady spots. It coats grass in an orange or yellow powder, grass grows slower, and the grass blades turn rust colored and/or die.

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Maintaining Sprinklers

Establishing a Balanced Irrigation System

An irrigation system makes watering lawns and the entire landscape easier and more cost
effective. A balanced system applies the correct amount of water to different areas of the
property to meet the individual needs of specific plantings. The key to lovely looking landscapes
is establishing a balanced system.
Watering schedule
With modern, programmable irrigation systems, it’s easy for the installer to program the
system to facilitate the most efficient and effective watering schedule. Summer rains provide
natural moisture and irrigation systems can be equipped with sensors to detect the moisture
level in the soil. Plants also have different seasonal watering requirements. Modern irrigation
systems can also be set to deliver the correct amount of moisture according to the season.
Hand Watering
Many homeowners choose to water their lawn with a hose and detachable sprinkler head,
while watering flower beds by hand or drip irrigation hoses, depending on the size of the
property. When performed in this way, it’s less efficient and often results in run off or puddling
that does little to meet the needs of plantings or lawns.
It can be extremely difficult to gauge how much water to apply and when. A hose and sprinkler
system will deliver, on average, ½ an inch of water over 30 minutes. A watering schedule of 20
minutes, 3 times per week, will deliver about 1 inch of water to a lawn. The property will need
to be watered at dusk or later to maximize water retention and minimize evaporation.
The watering by hand method works ideally for healthy lawns. It’s a good idea to use a rain
gauge to determine how much rain is received during a storm. An inch of rainfall can disrupt
the most carefully planned watering schedule. Avoid daily watering as it will result in a shallow
root system. During winter months, lawns can be watered as little as twice a week.

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TCU Facilities Keeps the Campus Grounds Beautiful … Through Drought and Storm

Watering a New Landscape

Installing a new landscape is exciting as individuals look out upon their environment and envision all the beauty and activities they can enjoy. A new landscape is a delicate environment that requires some specialized care for it to grow and flourish. Proper watering is one of the most important elements, but it has to be performed carefully.


If a programmable irrigation system has been installed, the professionals can set it to provide the appropriate amount of moisture at the right times. The irrigation system will deliver different amounts of water in each area to accommodate the needs of different plantings.

Watering By Hand

The process is trickier if individuals are watering the landscape on their own. Smaller landscapes also benefit from an irrigation system. Watering by hand should be performed at night when it’s cooler to avoid evaporation. For lawns, individuals shouldn’t let the top ½ inch of soil dry out until the grass is at least 1 inch in height.

For those using a hose or a sprinkler that attaches to a hose, the landscape will need to be watered every day for the initial 2 weeks following planting – unless a substantial rain is received. After the first month, watering can be reduced to 2 to 3 times per week. Apply about ¾ of an inch of moisture per watering session.

New flower beds also need moisture. Pelting them with a stream of water from a hose will accomplish little other than to damage plants. The best option is a trickle or soaker hose that gently delivers moisture at the soil level.


One of the biggest mistakes individuals make when watering their new landscape is overwatering. Doing so increases water bills unnecessarily. Too much water at one time won’t be able to soak into the soil to benefit plantings. Instead, it simply pools, puddles, and creates runoff onto driveways, sidewalks and the street.

RCH Landscaping is a full-service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians has an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

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4 Signs You Need Irrigation Maintenance

Irrigation systems ensure your lawn and other plantings are well-watered and green. The automated systems are convenient and saves you time and money. Every mechanical construct eventually needs maintenance, even your sprinkler system.

The signs that your system needs maintenance or repair can begin subtly and go unnoticed at first. The situation can quickly escalate depending on the source and nature of the problem. Leaks, drips and other malfunctions can occur due to damaged sprinkler heads, a broken pipe or a defective control valve.

Higher Water Bills

The first sign of trouble is often a water bill that begins to creep up. Other times it could be a sudden spike, depending on the scope of the problem, and an irrigation system is a prime suspect.

Water Pressure Problems

Low water pressure could be a problem related to the city water supply, but it can also be your irrigation system. Your water pressure indoors may or may not provide a clue. When sprinklers operate, the stream of water can suffer. The water stream coming from your irrigation system can appear weak, uneven, or the sprinkler heads can sputter or dribble.

Irrigation Inconsistencies

Your irrigation system is designed to deliver the precise amount of water to all areas of your yard. Uneven watering is a common problem when sprinkler systems need maintenance. Some areas will be desert dry, while water may be pooling in other locations. The health of lawns and plantings will suffer and there may also be runoff onto sidewalks and driveways.

Sinking Turf & Holes

It’s not uncommon to see your previously level lawn develop holes or areas that have sunken when a sprinkler system needs maintenance. The soil can become supersaturated with water and become more “fluid.” Water sinks down through the soil and causes movement, resulting in dips, holes and similar areas. Excess water in the soil can also result in damage to building foundations.

RCH Landscaping is a full-service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians has an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

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