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Water Conservation Tips

For Outdoor Use

  • Water only when needed. Look at the grass, feel the soil, or use a soil moisture meter to determine when to water.
  • Do not over-water. Soil can hold only so much moisture, and the rest simply runs off. A timer will help, and either a kitchen timer or an alarm clock will do. Apply only enough water to fill the plant’s root zone. Excess water beyond that is wasted. One and a half inches of water applied once a week in the summer will keep most grasses alive and healthy.
  • Water lawns early in the morning during the hotter summer months. Otherwise, much of the water used on the lawn can simply evaporate between the sprinkler and the grass.
  • To avoid excessive evaporation, use a sprinkler that produces large drops of water, rather than a fine mist. Sprinklers that send droplets out on a low angle also help control evaporation. Adjust sprinkler heads as necessary, to avoid waste, runoff and ensure proper coverage.
  • Set automatic sprinkler systems to provide thorough, but infrequent watering. Pressure-regulating devices should be set to design specifications. Rain shut-off devices can prevent watering in the rain.
  • Use drip irrigation systems for bedded plants, trees, or shrubs, or turn soaker hoses upside-down so the holes are on the bottom. This will help avoid evaporation.
  • Water slowly for better absorption, and never water on a windy day.
  • Forget about watering the streets or walks or driveways. They will never grow a thing.
  • Condition the soil with mulch or compost before planting grass or flowerbeds so that water will soak in rather than run off.
  • Fertilize lawns at least twice a year for root stimulation, but do not over-fertilize. Grass with a good root system makes better use of less water and is more drought-tolerant.
  • Do not scalp lawns when mowing during hot weather. Taller grass holds moisture better. Grass should be cut fairly often, so that only 1/2 to 3/4 inch is trimmed off. A better looking lawn will result.
  • Use a watering can or hand water with the hose in small areas of the lawn that need more frequent watering (those near walks or driveways or in especially hot, sunny spots.)
  • Use water-wise plants. Learn what types of grass, shrubbery, and plants do best in the area and in which parts of the lawn, and then plant accordingly. Choose plants that have low water requirements, are drought-tolerant, and are adapted to the area of the state where they are to be planted.
  • Consider decorating some areas of the lawn with wood chips, rocks, gravel, or other materials now available that require no water at all.
  • Do not "sweep" walks and driveways with the hose. Use a broom or rake instead.
  • When washing the car, use a bucket of soapy water and turn on the hose only for rinsing.
  • We're more likely to notice leaks indoors, but don't forget to check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks.