National Geographic estimates that nearly 60% of a person’s household water footprint can go toward lawn and garden maintenance. Fortunately, there are many choices you can make outdoors to conserve water and save your money!
Only water under specific conditions
Don’t water on hot or windy days and only water in early morning or late evening to prevent evaporation. This alone could save 20 gallons per day. Watering early in the morning is preferable to evening watering. Wet grass overnight is more susceptible to fungus and disease.
Limit how much you water
Limit watering to 2-3 times a week at most to save 750-1,500 gallons per month. If you step on the grass and it springs back, it doesn’t need water. Stop watering your lawn in late summer. Grass is naturally meant to go dormant and this is a dry time of year when water conservation is extremely important to our communities.
Raise mower blades
Set your lawn mower blades one notch higher to save 500-1,500 gallons of water per month. Taller grass has a deeper root system and loses less water to evaporation.
Mulch around trees and plants. Mulch holds moisture in the soil, reducing your need to water as often. For every 1,000 square feet you water, mulch can save 20-30 gallons each watering. You can use a hardwood mulch, chunks of bark, peat moss, or the compost you create by not using your garbage disposal.
Plant native plants and save 30-60 gallons each time you water a 1,000 square foot area. Better yet – most native plants do not need supplemental watering unless they are new plantings or experiencing an extreme drought. Their deep roots also help remove pollution and replenish groundwater supplies. Learn more about native plants here.
Use drip irrigation
If watering is really necessary, use drip irrigation. Drip irrigation involves using hoses with small holes or small sprinkler heads placed at the base of plants. This uses far less water and delivers the water exactly where the plant needs it, rather than wasting it in areas that do not need it (like empty mulched areas, sidewalks, or driveways).
Using a Water Hose
Don’t run your hose while washing your car
Fill up a bucket of soapy water and then just give the car a quick rinse at the end and save 150 gallons each wash. A running hose typically discharges 10 gallons per minute.
Use a broom instead
Don’t hose off your driveway or deck; sweep it instead! If you spend just 10 minutes running your hose to clear off your patio, deck, driveway or sideway, sweeping it instead will save an average of 100 gallons or more each time.
Check your hose connections for leaks and repair or replace leaking parts
More Outside Tips
Install a rain barrel
Rain barrels and cisterns are containers designed to capture water running off your roof and store it for future use. The water can be used to water houseplants, gardens, and other outdoor landscaping… and it’s free!
Maintain pools and spas
Repair a leak around a pool or spa pump to conserve up to 20 gallons per day. Install a pool cover to reduce evaporation by up to 30 gallons per day, or install spa cover to save up to 5 gallons per day.
The Most Important Things You Can Do Outside
The four things that would make the biggest difference in reducing the amount of water you use outside are:
- Let grass go dormant in the dryer months.
- When watering, only use harvested rainwater.
- Use a grass appropriate to your region and climate.
- Use native and drought-resistant plants in your landscaping.