Save Water Outdoors

With outdoor water use accounting for up to 50% (or more) of our overall water usage during the growing season, being efficient is critical!  Following are some tips to save water outdoors:

  1. Landscape
  2. Vegetable Garden
  3. Pool
  4. General

Saving water in the landscape does NOT require applying rock or gravel to the entire yard and/or planting cactus or yucca!  Here are some tips to save water and grow healthier plants in the landscape:

  • Install Water Smart Landscaping!
  • Group plants according to water use for most efficient watering (i.e. high water use plants should not be grouped with low water use plants).
  • Have your soil tested and add organic matter.  A healthy soil will result in healthier root systems, which, in turn, create more drought tolerant plants.
  • Select plants appropriate for the climate HERE - not Missouri, Oregon, Maine...
  • Select plants, that once established, will require little to no supplemental irrigation.
  • Select low water use, drought tolerant, and/or native plants if possible.
  • Properly apply organic mulch around plants to retain moisture, reduce weed competition, and moderate soil temperatures.
  • Avoid the use of inorganic mulch (i.e. rock, gravel, rubber) around plants.
  • Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
  • After establishment, water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root systems.
  • Water turfgrass to a depth of 6-8" only as needed.
  • Water flowers (both annuals and perennials) to a depth of 12-18" only as needed.
  • Water trees and shrubs to a depth of 12-18" as that is where the bulk of their roots are located.
  • Know your they have shallow root systems or deeper ones?  Watering beyond the root zone is a waste of water!
  • Only water when absolutely necessary - check the soil to be sure.
  • Consider using rain barrels/tanks to collect rainwater and use as needed.
  • Direct water from rain gutters and HVAC systems to water-loving plants in your landscape.
  • Use a mulching mower and allow grass clippings to remain on the lawn.
  • Don't mow too short!  Adjust the height of your mower for your specific turf species.  Taller grass blades help to shade the soil and reduce water use.
  • Aerate your lawn as needed to relieve compaction and allow water and nutrients to filter down to the roots.
  • Weed regularly!  Weeds compete for moisture and nutrients.
  • Check irrigation systems for leaks regularly.
  • Preform a "catch can" test to measure irrigation system performance.
  • If considering an irrigation system installation, hire a trained (and hopefully certified) professional.
  • Winterize irrigation systems to avoid potential damage and potential water waste.
  •  Only apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.  While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption.
  • Set an alarm or kitchen timer when using the hose as a reminder to turn it off. A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons per minute. 
  • Limit water loss through evaporation by watering early in the morning when temperatures are cooler and winds can be lighter.
  • Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it to avoid runoff. Cycle and soak if need be.
  • Consider installing a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller.
  • Don't over water!  More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
  •  Use a watering can to water container plantings for more controlled watering vs. dragging a running hose.
  • For hanging baskets, planters and pots, put ice cubes on top of the soil to give your plants a cool drink of water without overflow.