RESOURCES

Outdoor Water Saving Tips

Image by Mani Sankar

LAWNS  |  IRRIGATION  |  CAR WASHING  |  POOLS  |  LONG-TERM  |  OTHER

LAWNS

  • Thirty percent of water used by the average American household is devoted to outdoor water use, and more than half of that is used for watering lawns and gardens.

  • More than 50 percent of residential irrigation water is lost due to evaporation, runoff, over watering, or improper system design/installation/maintenance.

  • Don’t over water your lawn. Lawns only need 1 inch of water per week. Buy a rain gauge so that you can better determine when to water.

  • Water the lawn or garden early in the morning during the coolest part of the day. Consider installing an automatic timer. Don’t forget to adjust your watering schedule, as days get longer or shorter.

  • Check sprinkler systems and timing devices regularly to ensure they operate properly.

  • Raise your lawn mower cutting height—longer grass blades help shade each other, reduce evaporation, and inhibit weed growth.

  • Avoid over fertilizing your lawn. Applying fertilizer increases the need for water.

  • Use a broom or blower instead of a hose to clean leaves and other debris from your driveway or sidewalk.

  • Don’t leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden to remind you when to stop. A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons a minute.

  • Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.

  • To water sloping lawns, apply water for 5 minutes and then repeat 2-3 times.

  • If installing a lawn, select a turf mix or blend that matches your climate and site conditions.

  • If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption.

  • Don’t water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.

  • Remove thatch and aerate your lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots rather run off the surface.

  • Use a minimum amount of organic or slow release fertilizer to promote a healthy and drought tolerant landscape.

  • Use sprinklers for larger areas of grass. Water small patches by hand to avoid waste.

  • Let your lawn to go dormant during the summer. Dormant grass only needs to be watered every 3 weeks or less if it rains.

  • Install soil moisture sensors on sprinkler systems.

  • Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.

  • Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller so your system won’t run when it’s raining.

IRRIGATION SYSTEMS

  • Detect and repair all leaks in irrigation system.

  • Water trees and shrubs, which have deep root systems, longer and less frequently than shallow-rooted plants that require smaller amounts of water more often. Check with local extension service for advice on watering needs in your area.

  • Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems for trees and shrubs.

  • Use mulch around shrubs, flowers, vegetables, and garden plants to reduce evaporation from the soil surface and cut down on weed growth.

  • Mulching lawn mowers help protect against water loss and do not require disposal of grass clippings.

  • Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants retains moisture and saves water, time, and money.

  • Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.

  • Plant with finished compost to add water-holding and nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil.

  • When outdoor use of water is restricted during a drought, use the water from the air conditioning condenser, dehumidifier, bath, or sink on plants or the garden. Don’t use water that contains bleach, automatic-dishwashing detergent, or fabric softener.

  • Choose shrubs and groundcovers, instead of turf, for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.

  • Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.

  • Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.

  • Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the sprinkler heads in good shape.

  • Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.

  • Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.

  • Adjust your watering schedule each month to match seasonal weather conditions and landscape requirements.

  • Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.

 
 

CAR WASHING

  • Use a shot-off nozzle on your hose that can be adjusted down to a fine spray, so that water flows only as needed. Check hose connectors to make sure plastic or rubber washers are in place to prevent leaks.

  • Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water.

  • Wash your car on the lawn, and you’ll water your lawn at the same time.

 

POOLS

  • If you have a swimming pool, consider purchasing a new water-saving pool filter. A single back flushing with a traditional filter uses 180 to 250 gallons of water.

  • Lower pool water level to reduce amount of water splashed out.

  • Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation when pool is not being used.

  • Install covers on pools and spas and check for leaks around your pumps.

  • Make sure your swimming pools, fountains, and ponds are equipped with recirculating pumps.

  • Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark 24 hours later to see if you have a leak.

  • When backwashing your pool, consider using the water on your landscaping.

  • If you have an automatic refilling device, check your pool periodically for leaks.

OTHER OUTDOOR USES

  • Avoid installing ornamental water features, such as fountains, unless they use recycled water.

  • Make sure your swimming pools, fountains, and ponds are equipped with recirculating pumps.

  • Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation, than those spraying water into the air.

  • When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.

  • Winterize outdoor spigots when temperatures dip below freezing to prevent pipes from leaking or bursting.

LONG-TERM

  • Consider replacing all or even a portion of your lawn with plants and trees that require less water.

  • Replace your lawn with a flower or vegetable garden. Not only will you have fresh flowers and vegetables, you’ll also save money at the grocery store and you won’t have to mow your lawn anymore.

  • Plant it smart. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. Once established, they don’t need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering.

  • Install irrigation devices that are the most water efficient for each use. Micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of efficient devices.

  • Use native plants or practice xeriscape garden techniques in garden and lawn areas. Native plants generally require less water than exotic species.

  • We’re more likely to notice leaks indoors, but don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks.

  • Consult with your local nursery for information on plant selection and placement for optimum outdoor water savings.

  • Group plants with the same watering needs together to avoid over watering some while under watering others.

  • Use a layer or organic material on the surface of your planting beds to minimize weed growth that competes for water.

  • Direct water from rain gutters and HVAC systems towards water-loving plants in the landscape for automatic water savings.