Outdoors... In the Yard and Garden

An above-ground water sprinkler in a grass yard

  •  Check for leaks in outdoor pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings
  •  Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways, sidewalks and hardscape
  •  Don’t allow water to run into the gutter

Check your sprinklers to make sure water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas.

  •  Water early in the day and avoid watering when it's windy

Early morning watering is generally better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus and reduces water loss to evaporation. Watering early in the day is also the best defense against slugs and other garden pests.

  •  Plant drought-resistant lawns, shrubs and plants

Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. To save water, select native plants – they will use less water and be more resistant to local plant diseases. Consider applying the principles of xeriscape for a low-maintenance, drought resistant yard.

  • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants

Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2 - 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Press the mulch down around the dripline of each plant to form a slight depression which will prevent or minimize water runoff.

  •  Water your lawn only when it needs it

A good way to see if your lawn needs watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn't need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering. Letting the grass grow taller (to 3") will also promote water retention in the soil.

Most lawns only need about 1" of water each week. During dry spells, you can stop watering altogether and the lawn will go brown and dormant. Once cooler weather arrives, the morning dew and rainfall will bring the lawn back to its usual vigor. This may result in a brown summer lawn, but it saves a lot of water.

  • Don't run the hose while washing your car

Clean the car using a pail of soapy water, and wash your car on the lawn – this will water your lawn and avoid soapy water flowing to the storm drain. Use the hose only for rinsing, and use a spray nozzle. These simple tips can save as much as 150 gallons when washing a car. Better yet, use the local car wash. Commercial car washes are required to recycle their water, the biggest savings of all.

  • Deep-soak your lawn

When watering the lawn, do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow root systems. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn - when it's full, you've watered about the right amount.

  • You can greatly reduce the amount of water used for shrubs, beds and lawns by:
    •  the strategic placement of soaker hoses
    •  installing a rain barrel water catchment system
    •  installing a simple drip-irrigation system
  • Avoid over-watering plants and shrubs, as this can actually diminish plant health and cause yellowing of the leaves
  •  When hand watering, use a variable spray nozzle for targeted watering

Using these tips on a daily basis, the average household, using 350 gallons per day, could save 125 gallons of water per day. The average individual, currently using 70 gallons per day, could save 25 gallons of water per day. This adds up quickly! You really can make a difference if you incorporate these water conservation habits into your everyday routine.