Tips Around the Home

A few simple wise water use tips can make a difference in how much water you use.

  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clear debris from driveways, sidewalks, and patios.
  • Wash a car with a bucket and sponge. Use a shut-off nozzle on your hose so water doesn’t run while you are washing the car. A free-flowing hose uses up to 300 gallons of water each hour.
  • Check for leaks. Look at pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings. Leaks waste a lot of water. Even a small leak in a garden hose may waste as much as 700 gallons per day.
  • Save 3 gallons of water per minute by turning off the water when brushing your teeth, shaving, etc. National averages indicate that indoors, about 70 percent of our water is used in the bathroom.
  • Check your toilet for leaks. Put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. If the coloring appears in the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a wasteful leak that should be repaired at once. Even a small leak can waste thousands of gallons a month.
  • Use your automatic washing machine for full loads only. It uses up to 60 gallons per load.
  • Consider changing to water saving plumbing. Low flush toilets and low flow showerheads seem to be the biggest water savers.

Tips for Gardens and Lawns

A few simple water use tips can make a difference in how much water you use outdoors as well.

  • Deep soak your lawn. Water about one inch once a week (twice if it’s very hot for several days). Water infrequently, but thoroughly, so moisture soaks down to the roots. This creates deeper, healthier root systems that are more water-efficient and drought-tolerant.
  • Water early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation. Avoid watering on windy days. Position sprinklers so water doesn’t land on paved areas and run off into storm drains.
  • Help soil hold water. Add organic materials such as compost or peat moss. Keep your lawn and garden weed-free. Weeds can rob plants of water and nutrients. Lay mulch three inches deep around trees and plants to retain moisture, slow evaporation, and discourage weed growth.
  • Consider installing drip irrigation systems around trees and shrubs. These systems allow water to flow slowly to the roots, encouraging strong, deep root systems. Drip systems also reduce evaporation.
  • If you don’t have an automatic sprinkling system, use a kitchen timer or buy a sprinkler timer. You can waste a lot of water in a short time if you forget to turn off the sprinklers.

Tips for Landscaping

These seven basic steps will help your landscape fit your lifestyle and maintain healthy plants.

  • Create a master landscape plan. Include existing structures, shrubs, and street. Your plan will help you install or modify your landscape in phases, reducing initial expenses. In the planning stage, decide how zones of the landscape will be used. Group plants with similar watering needs together.
  • Compost and cultivate. Clay soil absorbs water so slowly that the water runs off the surface very quickly. Adding an organic amendment such as compost helps clay soil absorb and retain water.
  • Consider grass and ground cover. Use turf where it is practical and functional. Grass can require more water, maintenance and nutrients than most other plants. One inch of water, once a week, is just right for most lawns. Water twice a week only during a heat wave. Ground covers, low-water-using plants, and mulches are good choices where there is little foot traffic. Steep slopes, sharp angles, and narrow driveway or sidewalk strips are ideal places for groundcover. Established ground cover reduces weeds and prevents slope erosion. Hardscape is another option. Use rock, concrete, or wood for paths, patios, and other areas of interest.
  • Remember that every plant has its place. Different plants require different amounts of water and sunlight. They also need compatible soil conditions to survive. Group plants according to their needs.
  • Water wisely. The greatest water waster is watering too much, too often. Deep, infrequent watering produces a deep-rooted lawn, which is more water-efficient and drought-tolerant. Plants and shrubs thrive when they have the right amount of water. Consult your local nursery and landscape professional to get advice on giving plants the right amount of water.
    Use mulches. Organic mulches, such as aged manure, compost, or bark chips, increase the ability of soil to store water. They also help prevent weeds and reduce soil erosion. Apply three inches of mulch in open areas for weed control and less around plants to allow water to reach the roots.
  • Keep up the maintenance. Pruning and pest control will keep you landscape healthy. Fertilize when necessary. Control weeds as they compete with plants for light, nutrients and water. Thatch and aerate your lawn once a year in spring or fall so water soaks into the ground and reaches the roots more easily.
  • Check for leaks in your irrigation systems. Make every drop count.