Arthur
Arthur
  • Hometalker
  • Kissimmee, FL
Asked on Mar 15, 2012

Need to cut down on the water bill.

Carol FredetteDORLISDouglas Hunt
+28

Answered

We have a home in Osceola County, Florida. Many of us have been totally horrified at the almost 45% increase in our water bills from KUA. We have a large expanse of grass, also citrus trees and are seriously thinking of turning most of it over to pebbles of various colours. However we do like plants, so what plants could we plant to give a little colour but that would need very little water and also that would withstand the recent colder winters that we seem to be getting in Florida. We will be there in the autumn and plan to start altering the garden then. Any advice would be gratefully received. Someone said that grey leaved lavender is hardy and does not need water, is that the case?
31 answers
  • Sherrie S
    on Mar 15, 2012

    Arthur, I understand your pain. I purchased a rental house with 1500 sq feet of lawn (mostly weeds). Then had lawn installed - then found out what water cost. It was close to $500 per month. I was shocked. My own water bill across the street from the rental is 25-30 a month. The reason is: I have a well. I paid 2 months of that rental water bill & then had a well drilled there. To also cut down on cost I had truckloads of mulch brought in and made several large islands where we have trees, plants, etc. The water bill at the rental is now less than $40 per month.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Mar 15, 2012

    There are many plants that will do exactly what you are looking for, Arthur. (But citrus trees are not among them: if you want to have citrus, you're going to have to find a way to keep them watered while you're not here.) I strongly suggest you check out the Florida Friendly Landscaping web site at www.floridayards.org. If has an extensive database of plants that you can search by the parameters you have, such as how much sun you get, what type of soil you have and the plant's water requirements (you will of course want to check low). I personally have had little luck trying to grow lavender as I think it dislikes our humidity. On the other hand, rosemary grows like gangbusters here.

  • Sherrie S
    on Mar 15, 2012

    Arthur, Douglas H is so correct with his suggestions. I want to know what you decide to do because I always learn something. That is why we are on Hometalk.

  • Arthur
    on Mar 15, 2012

    Thanks for the answers, but I'm still hoping for more ideas.

  • Arthur
    on Mar 15, 2012

    I will let you know what we do, but it won't be until the fall as we don't get back to Florida until the end of October. We reckon that we will use various colours of stones and then just put some plants that don;t need much water, but it will be heartbreaking not to have our lovely flowering beds of plants, but with water bills so high they will have to go. We don't want to lose our citrus trees, but will try to just put sprinkler heads alongside each one and with stones around then we won;t need to water grass area. I much prefer grass but not at these costs.

  • Sarah
    on Mar 15, 2012

    have you considered a rain barrel system? I don't know about your part of FL, but in Sarasota it seemed like even in the summer it rained avery afternoon. or maybe a greywater irrigation system? then maybe you can keep whatcha got??? best of luck!

  • Sarah
    on Mar 15, 2012

    *every afternoon

  • Debbie C
    on Mar 15, 2012

    Xeriscape , xeriscape ,xeriscape!!!!! We have had to reduce our water consumption with the drought. It has worked wonders. You can also use water barrels, (rain), and using you refuse from dishes and baths. Many many good things you can do!!! Hopes this helps!!!

  • Sherrie S
    on Mar 15, 2012

    Sarah, a rain barrel system in Florida will not handle the watering problem in summer even though it helps. I have large rain barrels but I also need the well to keep the cost of water down. We need to do everything possible to try to save water so I am waiting for other suggestions, too.

  • Edna P
    on Mar 15, 2012

    call me obsessed, I have 4 rain barrels working for me, I have lemon balm and peppermint planted on the rain barrels which are in the sun. They do really well of course they are aggressive and get root bound, gonna give my daughter some plants for her rain barrell

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Mar 15, 2012

    If you can use rain barrels great...believe it or not due to laws out here in the west all of the free rain that falls on my roof, is not mine...and it is illegal for me to collect or use it... http://www.networx.com/article/harvesting-rainwater

  • Sherrie S
    on Mar 15, 2012

    Edna, you are not obsessed and you have a great idea since it works in your area. I could add 100 rain barrels and would need more to water my lawn/plants. If I kept adding rain barrels I wouldn't be able to see the plants.

  • Sarah
    on Mar 15, 2012

    my bad, Sherrie. I should have been clearer with regards to the rain barrel systems. I was just trying to give Arthur a jumping off point. Cool thing about rain barrel or rainwater harvesting systems is they come in all shapes (a water "bladder" tank, for instance), sizes (20 gal. to 20k gallons+) and can be installed in a variety of ways including underground, in the house crawlspace, etc... check out raintankdepot.com similar things can be said for a greywater system, although installation is a bit more involved if you go whole house with the system. Here's to hopin' more folks chime in for ya, Sherrie & Arthur! cheers!!

  • Bill B
    on Mar 15, 2012

    Best to go to a good nursery and ask the experts for the best plants for your area. You are completely different from me in the CA. foothills.

  • Jo C
    on Mar 16, 2012

    KMS: That is REALLY hard to believe. Mostly I wonder who is enforcing such a ridiculous law.

  • Catherine S
    on Mar 16, 2012

    there are classes & books on grey water waste systems -you might be able to use some of your used water (laundry, dishwater, etc) for plants, but best not for edible plants: ok for trees, flowers, lawns

  • Deanna C
    on Mar 16, 2012

    Are you watering in the early morning? How many gallons per day are you using ove how many square feet?

  • Ann F
    on Mar 16, 2012

    We have 2 different kinds of pineapples, bananas, blackberries and papayas. None require extra water, except when first planted. Once established, they do their thing. got 4 pineapples coming now. In Fla.

  • Arthur
    on Mar 16, 2012

    Rainwater barrels would not be of much use. We use our Florida home as a short term rental home and only spend about 3 months of the year there. When we are there, we do not use the dishwasher, but wash our dishes by hand in a basin and throw all the used water on the plants, but that is just scratching the surface. I am not sure that we have a grey water system in our area of Osceola county, but it may be worthwhile contacting the water company and asking. Thank to all who have replied.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Mar 16, 2012

    Arthur, you really do not have to give up on green to make your water bills manageable. You could replace your lawn with a wonderful native, sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa), for example, or perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata). If you plant coontie (Zamia pumila) as soon as you get down, it will be established by the time you leave and will look great when you come back with only the water nature provides. The same is true of bulbine (Bulbine frutescens). There are dozens of options like this. Spend some time on the web site I gave you above to start to familiarize yourself with them.

  • Sherrie S
    on Mar 16, 2012

    Douglas H, I have 2 acres in my subdividivision. We are required to have grass in the front yard, however, many people have added stone and mulch to get rid of a lot of grass. I'm working on making the back and sides of the yard easier to care for so I will be looking at your plant suggestions

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Mar 16, 2012

    Sherrie...your subdivision "requires"...this is one reason why I will never live in any type of covenant controlled place. Its will be / is my home...and I will do what ever I want to do... period.

  • Sherrie S
    on Mar 16, 2012

    KMS, yup it has requirements but that stops a lot of really bad things, too. My association is reasonable so we can do whatever we want in the backyard. Just make sure they can't see it from the road.

  • Sherrie S
    on Mar 16, 2012

    Sarah, no bad. We may not give the right answers but everyone on hometalk tries to help someone. YO GOOD! You tried.

  • Becky H
    on Mar 17, 2012

    Sherrie, does your development specify which type of grass you must have? If not, why not Bahia? Bahia is drought tolerant; it's the grass of choice for pastures. You might try some in your back yard. It will not be as thick and cushioned as a St. Augustine, but it's green. Additionally, it is sensitive to mole crickets and requires thatching ever so often. I would definitely look into reclaimed water. In addition, you may want to consider more trees for shade. The shade seems to deter evaporation, thereby lowering the water demand.

  • Arthur, We hear this issue on a daily basis. It has become a large part of the way the industry is moving. We have many solutions to address your problem and would love to meet with you at your property to go over designs that fit your needs and wants. Call us to set up a free consultation. We are finding a lot of people going to Artificial Turf for these kinds of applications but also have other types of plant material that will work as well if you are not fond of the Artificial Turf.

  • Sherrie S
    on Mar 18, 2012

    Becky H, no the assocation does not dictate type of grass. Years ago it did. I recently planted Bahia in my rental house across the street from my home which has St. Augustine. The Bahia looks very nice & doesn't require the care or water needs of St. Augustine..

  • Arthur
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I will work on all these answers once we return to Florida in November. Unfortunately the work can only begin then. But thanks for all the advice.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Mar 22, 2012

    But far better to arrive with a plan. Then you will have time to implement it and get your plants established before you head back north.

  • DORLIS
    on Aug 6, 2015

    rain barrels, drip watering. may take time to do it, but will help at least you can water the flowers with this. Personally, I would take out most of the grass, put in gravel paths and plant lots of native plants that tolerate dry spells

  • Carol Fredette
    on Apr 30, 2016

    Dig a shallow well and water the plants,grass,etc.

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