Coming back from a long holiday means extra water needs for your outdoor areas – But did you know, that on average, about 30% of our water usage happens outdoors? We water lawns and gardens, wash cars, and enjoy our swimming pools. Here are some tips that will help you save hundreds of gallons of water while still being able to maintain your beautiful outdoor sanctuary.
In Your Yard
- Adjust your sprinklers so that they’re only watering your lawn and garden – not the street, driveway, or sidewalk.
- Water in the morning (before 10 a.m) or in the evening (after 6 p.m.) – Temperatures are cooler and evaporation is minimized. Drip irrigation is 90% more efficient than surface watering and is the most efficient method of watering shrubs, trees, and plant beds. Not only does it lessen water evaporation, but it also impedes weed growth, and sends water directly to plants’ roots. Soaker hoses are also a cheaper, and great alternative to drip irrigation.
- Set your timers, but don’t forget to modify – Be sure to adjust your watering schedules throughout the irrigation season, regardless if you have an automatic timer or if you water manually.
- Water your lawn 1/2 – 1 inch per week – (a bit more during hot, dry weather).
- Maintain your irrigation system, looking for leaks, broken lines or blockages in the lines – Maintaining your system will save you money, water, and time.
- Consider replacing grassy areas with low water/drought tolerant plants and grasses – They tend to be easier to maintain, use less water and look amazing.
- Group your plants by water needs – This will allow you to give each zone the water it requires — not too much or too little.
- Add an easy-off switch nozzle to your garden hose – and save about 5-20 gallons each minute your hose is on.
- Adjust your mower to a higher setting – Taller lawns provide shade to the roots while helping retain moisture in the soil.
- Sharpen your mower blades to prevent torn grass which can make it look tattered and weaken its defenses against disease
- Leave short grass clippings, this reduces the lawn’s need for water and fertilizer. However, rake through thick patches of clippings and spread them into a thin layer so that they will not kill the grass beneath.
- Apply only the amount of water your soil can absorb – Soak the soil, but less frequently. If the soil cannot absorb the water quickly enough, break watering sessions into several shorter stints, allowing water to soak into the soil between each watering.
- Use Mulch – Add two to three inches of mulch, grass clippings or compost around plant/tree bases. This retains moisture, control weeds, reduces evaporation, and cools the soil, so you can use less water. However, be careful to keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk, to prevent rot, when mulching your trees.
Around Your Pool
- Cover your pool – If you have a swimming pool, keep from losing water and heat by covering when not in use.
- Don’t overfill your pool – Keep your pool at appropriate levels to avoid wasting water through the overfill drain.
- Clean your filters often – This will reduce the need to backwash, saving water and your filters
Around Your House
- Check for leaks – Regularly check and maintain all faucets, hoses, and connections checking for leaks and to make sure they are in good working order.
- Make sure faucets are shut completely off when not in use.
- Soggy, soft spots on your lawn can indicate an underground leak. If the leak is above the ground such as a leaky faucet, try changing the washer, after turning off the main shutoff. If it is an underground leak, contact your plumber/professional if repairs are needed.
- Use your Broom – Use a broom to clean your driveway, steps, sidewalk, and patio/deck, instead of a hose. A standard garden hose uses anywhere from 5 to 20 gpm, which means if it takes you even just five minutes to hose down the pavement, that’s between 25 to 100 gallons down the drain. To remove spills or stains that can’t be swept away, try spraying with a little water and then use your broom to scrub the stain away. Using your broom or even a rake for cleaning can save hundreds of gallons of water.
- Don’t use the hose to wash your car – Hands down the best way to wash your car is to take it to a commercial car wash where the water can be recycled. However, if you don’t have the cash to spare, fill up a bucket full of water and use that to sponge down the car. A bucket holds about two-five gallons of water, so using our earlier comparison, you’ll save anywhere from 25 to 100 gallons per five-minute hose-down.
- Place pots in pans a little larger than their bottoms, and fill half of the pans with water – so that as the soil dries it pulls the water up from the pan as the plants need it.